THE FIRST FEMALE CHAIRPERSON OF SEBI- MADHABI PURI BUCH

Madhabi Puri Buch has been appointed the next chairperson of market regulator SEBI, making her the first woman to hold the position. This is the first time a woman and a private sector employee has been appointed for a significant position with SEBI. 

Buch will be the 10th chief of the market regulator, the first woman and the first executive from the private sector to do so. She takes over from Ajay Tyagi, a 1984 batch IAS officer of Himachal Pradesh cadre, who became the chairman on March 1, 2017. There hasn’t been a woman in charge of any other regulatory organisation yet. 

An alumna of IIM Ahmedabad, Buch, who has worked in the financial sector for the past three decades, began her career in 1989 with ICICI Bank. For the past 12 years, she has worked in a variety of roles, including corporate finance, branding and treasury, and loans. From February 2009 to May 2011, Buch worked at ICICI Securities as the managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO). She also served on the board of ICICI Bank as an executive director. She is the founder-director of Agora Advisory Pvt Ltd and has played multiple non-executive director roles. 

Last year, she was also appointed as a head of SEBI’s seven-member committee on technology – the Advisory Committee for Leveraging Regulatory and Technology Solutions. 

All eyes will be on SEBI’s new chairperson as SEBI tries to control the post-covid financial environment. 

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

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.

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