‘Back to Work’ Policy to be a significant step in empowering women

Women are super humans! They efficiently juggle between raising children, domestic duties, earning bread, and manage to do it all effortlessly. We witness women rising to top offices—take Leela Nair as CHRO of ULE and Geeta Gopinath as Chief Economist of the IMF examples—and also becoming the sarpanch in village panchayats.
Although, the potential in the middle rung still remains latent. It has long been an obligation for women to give up their dreams in the interests of their families. And it should come as no surprise to the reader that half of our population does not get ample representation in the working force. The Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2019-20 finds out that the proportion of women in the overall labour force has dropped down to a meagre 20.7%.


In a bid to counter this disproportion, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot recently announced the launch of a ‘Back to Work’ scheme on 30 November, during the discussion on the Finance and Appropriation Bill for the Budget 2021-22.
The policy attempts to bring back into the workforce the women who have had to quit their jobs in the past due to personal or family obligations. A three-year target of providing 15,000 regular/work-from-home jobs with the assistance of the private sector has been set, wherein priority will be accorded to women who have been abandoned,widowed, divorced or subjected to violence. Additionally, skill training will also be provided through Rajasthan Knowledge Corporation Limited (RKCL) to make them more employable.
Recently, Tata Consultancy Services also grabbed the headlines with its recent launch of a recruitment drive to hire more women professionals, followed by other IT majors like Wipro, Infosys and HCL.
The participation of women in urban areas is still encouraging, but overall participation is far from desirable. This policy raises the prospect of bolstering the financial status of vulnerable women and children. More women employees are not only good for gender equality, but they also create stronger national economies.
Besides, more participation of women in the workforce would help India achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 1 on ending poverty, SDG 5 on achieving gender equality, SDG 8 on ensuring economic growth and SDG 10 on reducing inequalities. More women in the workforce is a win-win situation for all.

THE CYBERSPACE- A GENDERED POINT OF VIEW

The introduction of digital technology was seen as a game-changer. The anonymity of cyberspace gave us the ability to destabilise gender differences, alter gender relations and empower women even more. However, the real doubt arises when one questions its attainment.

Cybercrime is a comprehensive term that encompasses all illicit operations carried out with the use of digital technology with the intent of causing harm to an individual’s or group’s physical, psychological, or financial well-being. 

Whilst men are also vulnerable to online gender-based abuse, research suggests that women are disproportionately victimised and endure significant ramifications, like being silenced, particularly women of specific religions, ethnic or racial groupings, sexual orientation, economic status, and with disabilities. 

According to a survey conducted by Bumble India, 83 per cent of women have reported that they have been victims of online harassment in some form, and 1 in 3 have reported that they experience it every week. The numbers are devastating.

WHY DO GENDER-BASED CRIMES TAKE PLACE?

It is important to realise that the internet is a virtual extension of our real lives. The prejudices, stereotypes and oppressive social systems transcend into the realm of the worldwide web wreaking havoc for female users.

Recent incidents such as the Bulli Bai app, sexual assault taking place in Meta’s virtual reality platform and a report stating that Indian women politicians face one of the highest levels of online abuse- are outrageous outcomes of patriarchy and deep-rooted prejudices against women and minority social groups.

According to the ITU’s 2017 data, men continue to use the internet at a higher rate than women in two-thirds of the world’s countries, with around 200 million fewer women online than men. This not only indicates the exclusion of women from online space but also points out that men are more likely to get an opportunity to be technologically advanced. This leads to women being more susceptible to cyber-attacks. In most cases, the victim does not know what course of action to take due to the lack of awareness about laws along with the fear of being sidelined by society.

The anonymity of cyberspace acts as a safe haven that allows oppressors to indulge in cybercrimes. A large chunk of the gender-based online abuse is faced by women who have actively raised their voices against systemic oppression. These women are not only targeted for their identity but also because of the influence they wield in the digital space. 

The lack of access to sex education and gender sensitivity is also among the primary causes of gender-based cyber-crimes. The objectification of women which takes place online would cease to exist if children are taught the nuances of gender sensitivity from an early age. However, the lack of sexual education leads to adolescents looking for answers online from, more often than not, unreliable sources which act as underbellies of the patriarchal mindset. 

‘Online abuse seeks to maintain gender hierarchies and prevent the complete emancipation of women’ 

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

·       To counter gender-based cyber-crimes, states have put laws in place however, that does not relieve the state of its obligation to ensure a safe digital space for women. The state has the responsibility to adopt and implement measures to eradicate prejudices, stereotypes and practices which act as the structural root causes of gender-based cyber-crimes. If online sexism and misogyny is not appropriately countered, it adds to a culture in which subordination of women is normalised and institutionalised, which the state should reverse.

·       Sex education and gender sensitivity should be made mandatory especially for adolescents.

·       Digital platforms through which these atrocities take place should be held accountable, considering that they not only economically profit from these abuses but have policies that reflect a gender bias.

·       Most citizens lack digital awareness thus there is a need to Impart knowledge about redressal mechanisms and remedies available in law, in case they or their peers fall prey to online perpetrators

References:

–        Silencing women in the digital age by- Louise Arimatsu

–        Cyber Safety through a Gender Lens© Red Dot Foundation & Cyber Saathi Foundation

Remembering bell hooks, the undaunted feminist

“I will not have my life narrowed down. I will not bow down to somebody else’s whim or to someone else’s ignorance.”

The world still mourns the incalculable loss of an inimitable author, professor and activist, bell hooks. The impact of her works that range from gender, race, class to education and critical pedagogy could clearly be felt as people from all corners of the world took to social media, expressing their grief and paying tribute.
Born as Gloria Jean Watkins, she borrowed the pen name “bell hooks” from her maternal great-grandmother, Bell Blair Hooks. Some of us might wonder, “why did she prefer writing her name in lowercase?” Well, there were alot of reasons for it, this is how she explained it herself – “Many of us took the names of our female ancestors — bell hooks is my maternal great grandmother — to honor them and debunk the notion that we were these unique, exceptional women. We wanted to say, actually, we were the products of the women who’d gone before us,” she expressed in an interview with Randy Lowens in 2009. “I think it’s more important that you read my work, reflect on it, and allow it to transform your life and your thinking in some way,” she added.


Her spirit was truly unmatched, her writings sparked every soul it reached, her critical perspectives made us all wander into the path less taken and her words so powerful that they moved us all, irrespective of whatever race, gender, caste and class one was born into.
Her legacy has initiated conversations around almost every social issue and she will always be remembered for what she lived for; a black woman not afraid to call out the perpetual system of oppression and class domination, a radical feminist who was ready to shake the pre-existing feminist notions built around prejudices and exclusion, an educationist who asserted the importance of allowing students to question the dominant ideologies instead of becoming passive recepients in the classroom and an author who reminds us that we can be a part of a loving community. (All About Love, 2000)
HER WORLD INDIA celebrates bell hooks for her nonpareil boldness, authenticity and uniqueness.

Savitribai Phule

– Yasir Pathan

Savitribai Phule (3 January 1831 – 10 Walk 1897) was an Indian social reformer, educationalist, and poet from Maharashtra. In Maharashtra, she assumed a significant and crucial part in further developing women’s privileges in India. She is viewed as the trailblazer of India’s women’s activist development. Savitribai and her husband established one of the main present day Indian girls’ school in Pune, at Bhide wada in 1848. She attempted to nullify the segregation and out of line treatment of individuals dependent on station and gender. She is viewed as a significant figure of the social change development in Maharashtra. Savitribai and Jyotirao Phule were running three schools in Pune with a joined strength of roughly 150 girls. It was anything but a simple undertaking for them. Moderates from their own local area and from the upper standings were against them. Individuals regularly heaved cow compost, mud and stones at them.

The dauntless Savitribai would frequently convey two saris with her while going to the schools. With her dear companion and associate Fatima Begum Sheik.
Savitribai additionally began showing women and youngsters from oppressed ranks including Mang and Mahar who were viewed as untouchables. Savitribai and Jyotirao opened 18 schools for offspring of various standings. In 1852, the British government regarded the Phule family for their commitment towards schooling and named Savitribai as the best educator. In 1855, the couple even began a night school for ranchers and workers.

Mother to many orphan children, Sindhutai is no more

Well known Social Worker, Padma Shri Sindhutai Sapkal, died on Tuesday following a heart attack atGalaxy Care Hospital in Pune. “She had undergone a hernia surgery one and a half months ago and recovery was very slow. Today (Tuesday) she died of a heart attack around 8 PM.” Said Mr. Shailesh Puntambekar, the medical director of the hospital.


A brief look at her life Sapkal, fondly known as “mother of orphans”, was born on November 14, 1948, in Wardha district of Maharashtra.
Having been born in extreme poor conditions, she was forced to drop out of school just after passing class IV, was married to a 32-year-old man at the very age of 12. Pregnant Sindhutai was abandoned by her husband at the age of 20 with her three children. Society continued to play the evil role in her life as she was refused any help by the villagers and even her mother, forcing her to beg to raise her daughters.

Her determination and will power helped her overcome these circumstances and she started working for orphans.
Her achievements She has received more than 270 awards from various national and international organizations. In 2017, she was bestowed with the Nari Shakti award, India’s highest civilian award dedicated to women by President Ram Nath Kovind. In November 2021, she was conferred the Padma Shri in the Social Work category.
Having raised 1050 orphans, “mother of orphans” breathed her last at the age of 73.

ONGC GETS IT FIRST FEMALE CHAIRPERSON: ALKA MITTAL

Alka Mittal who has previously served as ONGC’s Director of Human Resources, has created history by becoming the first female interim chairman and managing director of ONGC. The position was previously filled by Subash Kumar, who recently retired on 31 December. Mittal is also the first woman to hold the post of a full-time director on the board of ONGC. ONGC leads the country’s oil and gas production industry. Mittal’s appointment is greatly significant for this male-dominated industry, which has never seen a female chairperson before. Previously, When Nishi Vasudeva took over the reins of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd, an oil refiner and fuel marketing company, in 2014, she became the first woman to lead an oil company (HPCL).


Alka Mittal graduated from Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia in 2001 with a PhD in business/commerce and corporate governance. In 1983, she graduated from Dehradun’s M.K.P.P.G College with a master’s degree in economics. As her work as director of Human resources, Mittal has played a leading role in encouraging and ensuring a safe working space for women employees of the company. She is also recognised for implementing the ONGC’s National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (NAPS), which involved over 5000 apprentices across all work centres. Mittal will superannuate in August-end or until the appointment of a regular incumbent to the post is done.

#saluting_Women_in_Leadership

Extension of date for submission of Life Certificate by Central Government pensioners till 28th February, 2022

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in various states and keeping in view the vulnerability of elderly population to Corona virus, Government has decided to further extend the time limit up to 28th February, 2022 for submission of Life Certificate (Jeevan Pramaan) by the Central Government pensioners. Pensioners can submit life certificate through any of the permissible modes during the extended period.
A pensioner is required to submit the life certificate in the month of November every year. The time limit for submission of Life Certificate (Jeevan Pramaan) by the Central Government pensioners was earlier extended up to 31st December, 2021. Pension will continue to be paid by the Pension Disbursing Authorities (PDAs) uninterrupted during the extended period upto 28th February, 2022.
Pension Disbursing Banks have been advised to continue to maintain Covid-19 appropriate behaviour while obtaining Life Certificates and to ensure proper arrangements and social distancing measures at the bank branches to prevent overcrowding.