Dr. Milly Chatterjee and Ms. Anubhuti Vatsayan from Centre for Social Research organized the youth contribution debate in Jadavpur University, Kolkata on 15th of January 2015. The event started with Dr. Samita Sen, Vice-Chancellor of Diamond Harbor University and Ex-Director of School of Women Studies, Jadavpur University, who beautifully described the journey from Mexico Conference to the 12 critical areas discussed in Beijing in 1995. We would like to acknowledge the support of Ms. Rimple Mehta, Faculty, Womens Studies Department.
Without much ado, the session was opened for participants to give recommendations on the 12 critical areas of concern, for which the students were divided into 4 groups, picking 3 topics each.
Violence Against Women & Human Rights
- DV Act, 2005 talks about protection to women in marriage and ‘in nature of marriage’, but doesn’t talk about homosexual partners. The law can become inclusive only when it is amended to extend to the same sex partners.
- Allocation of more protection officers is required. One protection officer per district isn’t sufficient to handle cases of violence against women.
- Awareness about marital rape should be raised, and strict legal action should be taken to protect women.
- Not only in households and public spaces but women should be given provided security in women cells and women asylums.
- Self defense trainings should be imparted to women in schools and colleges.
- Feminization of work place is very essential. Mere existence of Sexual Harassment at Workplace bill will not help. Gender sensitization should be one of the major criteria while dealing with women centric issues.
Education and training of women
- Targeting to change the attitude of people in rural areas about education, especially to parents of girl children. Teams of volunteers and social workers can be formed who can travel around the remote areas across the country, in collaboration with Gram Panchayats, to motivate the parents shed their conservative ideas about not educating girls and let their daughters be educated. Also, this would prevent early marriages of girls in rural India.
- Loopholes in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan must be amended. Better infrastructure, water& toilet facilities, sensitive teachers must be prime focus.
- Seats must be reserved for women in private technical colleges also.
Women and Media
- Awareness campaigns by government of India aired on television and radios should be in vernacular language, for maximum outreach. More campaigns should be based on folklore and theatre as it’s more catchy.
- It’s true that our laws look really fancy on paper but lack terribly on implementation. And if this system has to fail all the time, we must have alternatives to dealing with cruel practices of gender based sex selective abortions. If a doctor or a medical practitioner is caught practicing the said evil, they must be asked to do some kind of charity or social work in the field of their profession.
- Vocational training must be compulsorily imparted to all women who are interested in learning in rural areas and poor families.
- Gender audits must be strictly carried out. Despite provision of equal pay for equal work, women working under MNREGA get paid lesser than their male counter parts.
- Sexual harassment at workplace bill applies to women in the in organized sectors too. Creating awareness about the same is necessary.
- There should be gender sensitization in media houses too.
- Awareness must be carried out to make people refrain from using sexist terminology like ‘victims’ , ‘ladies man’, etc.
- Breaking stereotypes by making regular looking women to host and anchor TV/news shows.
- Mass awareness should be created at the grassroot level about safe abortions.
- Special counseling cells should be provided by the govt for the LGBT community.
- Effective counseling of rape survivors is essential.
- Not just regular awareness generation but awareness about specific health issues that pertain just to women must be addressed (like anemia, UTI, etc)
- Special hospitals must be created for poor women.
- Special fast track laboratories must be created for women where MLC reports could be given out without any delay.
Women and Armed Conflict
- Repeal of AFSPA
- State sponsored violence against women should be taken into account; strict punishment should be implemented.
Women and Environment
- Financial reward to be provided to women who are involved in plantation of trees.
- Low interest loans must be given to women by not only government but private banks also.
The event terminated by announcing the name of the winner of the photography competition, the description of which is “Poverty forced them to work! If they had been provided with minimum education they could think of their empowerment in a better way. The female child instead of going to school and playing with her mates is also being included within the workforce to support her family” (Picture below)
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