VISHAKA & ORS. V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS. ( AIR 1997 SC 3011)

VISHAKA V. STATE OF RAJASTHAN IS A LANDMARK JUDGMENT PRONOUNCED IN 1997 BY THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA. THIS CASE LED TO THE ENACTMENT OF CERTAIN GUIDELINES TO DEAL WITH CASES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACES.

BHANWARI DEVI, A SOCIAL WORKER FROM RAJASTHAN, WAS BRUTALLY GANG-RAPED BY SIX GUJJAR MEN FOR STOPPING CHILD MARRIAGE.

FACTS
– DETERMINED TO GET JUSTICE, BHANWARI DEVI FILED A COMPLAINT AGAINST THE OFFENDERS.
– HOWEVER, THEY WERE ACQUITTED BY THE TRIAL COURT.
– ENRAGED BY THIS, SEVERAL WOMEN’S GROUPS AND NGOS CAME OUT TO SUPPORT BHANWARI DEVI AND FILED A WRIT PETITION IN THE SUPREME COURT TO FIGHT AGAINST INJUSTICE.
– THE WRIT WAS FILED FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OF WORKING WOMEN GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 14, ARTICLE 19, AND ARTICLE 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA.

JUDGMENT
THE COURT OBSERVED THAT AS PER ARTICLE 14(2), 19(1)(G) AND 21(4), EVERY PROFESSION, TRADE, OR OCCUPATION SHOULD PROVIDE A SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT TO ALL THE EMPLOYEES. A SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT IS A BASIC REQUIREMENT, UNAVAILABILITY OF WHICH VIOLATES THE RIGHT TO LIVE A DIGNIFIED LIFE GUARANTEED UNDER ARTICLE 21 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA.

THE SUPREME COURT IN ITS JUDGMENT DEFINED SEXUAL HARASSMENT AS AN UNWANTED OR UNINVITED ACTION INCLUDING:
• PHYSICAL TOUCH OR CONDUCT; OR
• SHOWING OF PORNOGRAPHY; OR
• USE OF SEXUALLY DEROGATORY WORDS; OR
• ASKING FOR SEXUAL FAVOURS; OR
• ANY OTHER UNPLEASANT VERBAL OR NON-VERBAL CONDUCT OF SEXUAL NATURE.

FURTHER, THE SUPREME COURT HELD THAT SINCE THERE ARE NO LAWS PERTAINING TO SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN INDIA, CONSIDERATION MUST BE PAID TO THE INTERNATIONAL CONVENTIONS AND THEREFORE, THE COURT ISSUED CERTAIN GUIDELINES TO BE FOLLOWED BY THE EMPLOYERS OR ANY OTHER RESPONSIBLE PERSON IN THE WORKPLACE TO ENSURE GENDER EQUALITY AND SAFETY OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACES. SUCH GUIDELINES WERE TO BE TREATED AS LAW DECLARED UNDER ARTICLE 141 OF THE CONSTITUTION.

THE FOLLOWING GUIDELINES ARE MEANT TO BE FOLLOWED UNTIL NEW LEGISLATION IS ENACTED FOR THE SAME:
1. THE EMPLOYER SHOULD TAKE PREVENTIVE STEPS BY NOTIFYING THE DEFINITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE WORKPLACE.
2. SUCH RULES AND REGULATIONS SHOULD BE INCLUDED WHICH PROHIBIT SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND IMPOSE PENALTIES AGAINST THE OFFENDERS.
3. STEPS SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN TO PROVIDE A SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT WITH PROPER HEALTH AND HYGIENE FACILITIES.
4. IN THE CASE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT, THE EMPLOYER SHOULD INITIATE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS AGAINST THE OFFENDER BY FILING A COMPLAINT WITH THE COMPETENT AUTHORITY.
5. STEPS SHOULD BE TAKEN TO ENSURE THAT THE OFFENDER DOES NOT VICTIMIZE THE WITNESSES AND THE VICTIM ITSELF.
6. A PROPER COMPLAINT COMMITTEE SHALL BE ESTABLISHED IN EVERY EMPLOYER’S ORGANIZATIONS WHICH SHOULD REDRESS THE COMPLAINTS MADE BY THE VICTIMS WITHIN A REASONABLE TIME.

7. THE COMMITTEE SHALL BE HEADED BY A WOMAN WITH HALF OF ITS MEMBERS AS WOMEN.
8. THE COMMITTEE SHALL ENSURE THE REDRESSAL OF THE COMPLAINT WHILE THE CONFIDENTIALITY IS MAINTAINED.
9. THE COMMITTEE SHALL ALSO INCLUDE A THIRD PARTY, EITHER AN NGO OR ANY OTHER BODY TO PREVENT ANY INFLUENCE OR PRESSURE ON THE VICTIM FROM THE SENIORS OF THE ORGANIZATION.

THEN THE HON’BLE COURT TOOK REFERENCE FROM THE PROVISIONS OF CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN (CEDAW) THEY WERE- ARTICLE 11 (1) (A) & (F)- WHICH STATES THAT THE STATE TAKES ALL APPROPRIATE MEASURES TO ELIMINATE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN IN THE FIELD OF EMPLOYMENT. ARTICLE 24- WHICH STATES THAT THE STATE SHALL UNDERTAKE TO ADOPT ALL NECESSARY MEASURES AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL AIMED AT ACHIEVING THE FULL REALIZATION. THE HON’BLE SUPREME COURT FRAMED THE GUIDELINES TO PREVENT SEXUAL HARASSMENT AT THE WORKPLACE, KNOWN AS VISHAKA GUIDELINES, THAT WERE TO BE TREATED AS LAW DECLARED UNDER ARTICLE 141 OF THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION. THESE GUIDELINES WERE THE FOUNDATION FOR THE SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF WOMEN AT WORKPLACE (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION AND REDRESSAL) ACT, 2013.

THE VISHAKA GUIDELINES (1997)

EMPLOYER’S OR OTHER EQUIVALENT AUTHORITY’S DUTY– EMPLOYER OR OTHER RESPONSIBLE PERSONS ARE BOUND TO PRECLUDE SUCH INDECENT INCIDENTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT FROM HAPPENING. IN CASE SUCH AN ACT TAKES PLACE, THEN THE ORGANIZATION MUST CONSIST OF A MECHANISM TO PROVIDE PROSECUTORIAL AND CONCILIATORY REMEDIES.

DEFINITION – FOR THIS PURPOSE “SEXUAL HARASSMENT” MEANS DISAGREEABLE SEXUALLY DETERMINED BEHAVIOR DIRECT OR INDIRECT
AS-

A. PHYSICAL CONTACT AND ADVANCES;
B. A DEMAND OR REQUEST FOR SEXUAL FAVOURS;
C. SEXUALLY COLOURED REMARKS;
D. SHOWING PORNOGRAPHY;
E. ANY OTHER UNWELCOME PHYSICAL, VERBAL OR NON-VERBAL CONDUCT OF SEXUAL NATURE.

MEASURES FOR PREVENTION– EMPLOYERS OR PERSONS IN CHARGE OF THE WORKPLACE MUST TAKE PREVENTIVE MEASURES SUCH AS AN EXPRESS PROHIBITION OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE FORM OF NOTIFICATIONS OR CIRCULARS, PENALTIES BY THE GOVERNMENT AGAINST THE OFFENDER, APPROPRIATE WORK CONDITIONS IN RESPECT OF HYGIENE, HEALTH AND LEISURE.

PROCEEDINGS IN CASE OF MISCONDUCT– IF THE OFFENSES COMMITTED ARE THE ONES THAT FALL UNDER THE PURVIEW OF THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860, THEN THE EMPLOYER IS BOUND TO TAKE PROSECUTORIAL ACTION BY COMPLAINING TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITY.

APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION– IF THERE IS AN OCCURRENCE OF THE VIOLATION OF SERVICE RULES, APPROPRIATE DISCIPLINARY ACTION MUST BE TAKEN.

REDRESSAL MECHANISM– AN ORGANIZATION MUST HAVE A REDRESSAL MECHANISM TO ADDRESS THE COMPLAINTS. THIS MUST BE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE FACT THAT WHETHER THE ACT CONSTITUTES AN OFFENSE UNDER THE INDIAN PENAL CODE, 1860, OR ANY OTHER LAW AS SUCH.

REDRESSAL COMMITTEE– SUCH A REDRESSAL MECHANISM OR MORE PRECISELY SUCH A COMPLAINT COMMITTEE MUST HAVE WOMEN AS MORE THAN HALF OF ITS MEMBERS AND ITS HEAD MUST BE A WOMAN. THE COMMITTEE MUST COMPRISE OF A COUNSELING FACILITY. IT IS ALSO ACCEPTABLE TO COLLABORATE WITH NGOS OR ANY SUCH ORGANISATIONS WHICH ARE WELL AWARE OF SUCH ISSUES. A REPORT MUST BE SENT TO THE GOVERNMENT ANNUALLY ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE ISSUES BEING
DEALT BY THE COMMITTEE.

SPREADING AWARENESS– TO RAISE SEXUAL HARASSMENT ISSUES, EMPLOYER-EMPLOYEE MEETINGS MUST BE HELD. THE EMPLOYER MUST TAKE APPROPRIATE ACTIONS/MEASURES TO SPREAD AWARENESS ON THE SAID ISSUE.

Why we need women CEOs

The appointment of Jyoti Deshpande, CEO, Viacom 18 Pvt Ltd as the co-chair of FICCI Media and Entertainment Board gives as a tremendous boost to the confidence of women.

Deshpande joins the league of five other powerful women in the media industry recently featured among the top 50 most powerful women in India in the business magazine Fortune India which include Shobhana Bhartia, Chairperson and Editorial Director, HT Media and Kalli Purie, Vice Chairperson, India Today Group among others.

Surely and steadily women are conquering every male bastion there is. From the Defence and Police forces to space, steel, real estate and liquor. An alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad, Hina Nagarajan became the managing Director and CEO of Diageo India in July 2021 and in the same year in January, Soma Mondal, a graduate in electrical engineering from National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, took over as Chairman of SAIL.

With the growing list of women CEOs, the outlook of corporate India appears to be changing. According to the Business 2021 report by global accounting firm Grant Thornton, India ranks third in the world for women working in senior management positions. As per the study, the percentage of women in senior management for India stood at 39 per cent, against the global average of 31 per cent. The report also said that 47 per cent of mid-market businesses in India now have women chief executive officers (CEOs) compared with 26 per cent globally.

Although there’s decline in board chairs held by women in 2021, it witnessed an increase in the number of women taking up CEO roles: 4.7 per cent female CEOs against 3.4 per cent reported in 2018 according to the Deloitte Global’s Women in the boardroom report published by The Economic Times. Interestingly, the report also said that there was a ‘positive correlation’ between appointing a female CEO and the diversity on the board. Also, globally, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men, 33.5 per cent versus 19.4 per cent.

Women promote equality and bring soft skills to workplace
Having women in leadership roles has proved advantageous as they bring equality and soft skills to their workplace. Especially during the pandemic crisis, women played a crucial role. According to a news report published in US News, countries led by women such as Denmark, Finland, Iceland, New Zealand, Germany and Slovakia have been internationally recognized for the effective response to the pandemic. The article also quoted a Harvard Business School study saying that ‘the presence of women leaders in national, local and community level governance leads to an increase in policy making that advances rights, promotes equality and improves quality of life for those overlooked in society’.

In fact, according to a report in Borgen magazine, with better representation of women in the political system, neglected sectors such as healthcare, education will become priorities.

Better representation in politics needed
The Women’s Reservation Bill that proposes to reserve 1/3rd of all seats in the Lower house of Parliament of India, the Lok Sabha, and in all state legislative assemblies for women is still pending.

In world rankings, India ranks 122 out of 153 countries when it comes to women’s representation in parliament, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020.At the national-level, while the 2019 Lok Sabha elections saw an increase in representation of women representatives, only 14% of the Members of Parliament (MPs) in India are women. At the state-level, women make up only nine per cent of the elected candidates of state legislative assemblies. If the management of the pandemic crisis by women led countries is an example to go by then clearly, the need of the hour is better representation of women in politics.

Malnutrition and equal pay package

However, despite the progress made by women, malnutrition and equal pay package continue to plague Indian women. According to a news report in Borgen magazine, half of the young women are anemic and enter pregnancy underweight.

And even when women take on leadership roles, women make 25 per cent of the income men make and generally take on childcare responsibilities, making it very challenging for women to have ambitious careers.

Supportive polices, access to education and nutrition and equal pay package will certainly pave the way for equal representation of women in every sphere of work.

Sources:

https://www.livemint.com/companies/news/indian-women-rank-ahead-of-global-peers-in-leadership-roles-11614795615945.html
https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/company/corporate-trends/more-women-in-india-india-taking-up-leadership-roles-but-boardroom-diversity-progress-is-slow-report/articleshow/89422370.cms
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-countries/articles/2021-03-08/why-countries-with-female-leaders-have-responded-well-to-the-pandemic
https://www.hindustantimes.com/opinion/where-are-india-s-women-leaders-101614781421864.html

ATHENAS- THE MH NCC COY

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
-Abraham Maslow

Be it NCC, NDA, OTA or IMA, the Indian defence institutions are famed worldwide for the quality of trained (wo)men they produce. With the aim of involving the youth to create an organised and trained Human Resource, the National Cadet Corps was raised in 1948 at the school and university levels.
The National Cadet Corps is the youth wing of the Indian military which gives basic military training to girls and boys. I am an NCC cadet myself and my journey till now has been quite an adventure. The uniform had always appealed to me and I wanted to earn the name plate since I was a kid.
I got myself enrolled into Miranda House, University of Delhi majorly to be a part of its NCC Company. The reputation and legacy it holds is coveted. I came in as a shy cadet but the past 1.5 years of rigorous training and exertion has transformed me into a confident and self reliant woman. The process is physically and mentally very challenging but the toil has been worth it.
The female cadets are trained at par with their male counterparts and are given opportunities, be it marching proudly on the Rajpath or receiving training in firing arms.It has only made me stronger and more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. We, in NCC, have mastered the art of accomplishing what others consider impossible. Following one of the DG’s four cardinal principles, we’ve learned to work hard without making any fuss. NCC is a second family to me, a home away from home.
We strive to live up to the name of ATHENAS and act wisely in all aspects of life, and the experiences I’ve gathered during my time prepare me for the aspirations and goals I have.

Writing With Fire—Recognising Local Journalism

Amidst the fanfare of the bigger multi-million dollar productions, an indigenous entry in the Oscars 2022 shortlist remains unnoticed. Writing With Fire, an Indian documentary film about the newspaper Khabar Lahariya, made it to the Oscars 2022 shortlist. The documentary focuses mostly on accounts from rural India’s most underserved areas.
Khabar Lahariya is India’s only feminist grassroots news network, written, edited, produced, delivered, and sold solely by rural women from underprivileged communities. These female journalists travel to the most remote corners of India’s interior to report on local news and social concerns from a feminist perspective.
It publishes ordinary stories of ordinary people in areas that are completely out of the spotlight of media attention. The major goal, according to Kavita Devi, the co-founder, was to create an all-women news platform that would generate employment among the underserved. In 13 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh, roughly 20 women are now members of the reporting team.
By virtue of its existence and hard core investigative journalism, Khabar Lahariya seeks to reshape the mediascapes socio-economic and cultural landscape.
It’s time we acknowledge and promote such works that familiarise us with the ground realities. News networks like these, among many other such, have been successful in lifting the status of these women’s lives and training them to earn a living while also bringing the voices of the unheard into the forefront.

REMEMBERING SUR KOKILA LATA MANGESHKAR : DR. JITENDRA SINGH

REMEMBERING SUR KOKILA LATA MANGESHKAR : DR. JITENDRA SINGH

DR. Jitendra Singh, MoS,PMO and a passionate observer of Indian cinema.

 Talks  exclusively to Rakhee Bakshee, Founder and Editor-In-Chief ,Her World India on the sad demise of Lata Mangeshkar

On Sunday, 6th February 2022, India lost a gem, the most admired singer of the nation who inspired generations of artists in the sub-continent. Flawless rendition, purity of music and quest for excellence defined Lata Mangeshkar the iconic singing personality of India

Lata Mangeshkar was an Indian playback singer and music composer who ruled the music scene of India for more than 8 decades. She recorded songs in over thirty- six Indian languages and a few foreign languages, though primarily in Hindi, Bengali and Marathi. Though she stood out most in hindi cinema, songs, Ghazals, Devotional music apart from other regional languages. ‘Lata didi’ as, she was fondly called, came from a very humble background and her family included three other sisters and a brother. Her father Deenanath Mangeshkar was a musician himself and owned a drama company. Her childhood was spent listening to singers and other performers from the music industry. Lata Mangeshkar was a truly gifted singer, who stood as a musical genius as a child itself. She was shy but used to share her singing talent with her mother. Having worked hard on her talent and finding space in the music industry later she rose to great heights in the music industry and seem to be known as Nightingale of India.

Dr.Singh reminiscence “I still remember the time when in Mughal-E-Azam (1960) Lata ji went to the hall to create Echo effect for the song ‘ Pyaar kiya toh darna kya’. Since there was no advanced technology used then, such pursuit for excellence was really remarkable. That was the power or the range of her voice” “The next thing I remember that Raj Kapoor was elated when he found Lata Mangeshkar as the singer in his film Barsaat (1949) for the song ‘Barsaat Mein Hamse Mile Tum’ and said that it was a blessing for his movies to have her as the singer as her voice was really melodious and matched his requirement. His earlier movie ‘Aag’ had not done well and he thought that Lata would be lucky for him” He also remembered that on 14th August, 1947 at midnight when the whole of India was celebrating its Independence, the people of Mumbai came out on the streets singing ‘Barsaat Mein Hamse Mile Tum....’ which denoted the happiness of people enjoying the season of monsoon as well. ''During 1947-48 when the films came out, the singers name went unnoticed mostly but because of her immense talent, Lata Mangeshkar, then a 17 year old young girl found her name in the poster as the makers felt that her talent needed to be recognised. It in a way broke the mould in that era”

Dr. Singh also remembered as to how Dilip Kumar once lightly mentioned that coming from a Marathi background Lata could not be performing flawlessly as far as diction was concerned. But Lata proved everyone wrong by working hard on her diction and sang ghazals with equal ease and melody. At Albert Hall in London, when Lata Mangeshkar sang ‘Bekas pe karam kijiye’ from the movie Mughal-E-Azam, the audience rose in huge appreciation for her rendition. Lata Mangeshkar also sang in Dogri, the local language of Jammu and it only goes to show her versatility. Once Mr.C. Ramachandar, a celebrated music director said that if I give a 75 out of 100 to the male playback singers of those eras like Mukesh, Kishore Kumar and Md. Rafi, then I would give 90 out of 100 to Lata Mangeshkar as a playback singer. This statement also goes to show how Lata broke the stereotypical mould where the music industry was mostly dominated by male singers. Dr. Singh shares another very unique observation about Lata didi, the power of her voice was such that in a movie people remember her voice more in a song than the actress enacting it on the screen, for eg: “In the song ‘Kuch Dil Ne Kaha’ (Anupama, 1966) though Sharmila Tagore sang the song in the movie, everyone remembered Lata’s singing, Some of the

Some of the most favourite songs of Lata ji are : 1.Ajeeb Dastan hai ye.... (Dil Apna Aur Preet Parai- 1960) 2.Aayega Aane Vala... (Mahal- 1949) 3.Abhi Baatein Hoti Hai...(Sunny- 1984) 4.Hamne Dekhi hai in aankhon ko...(Khamoshi 1969) Lata Mangeshkar was mature, Hardworking, focused and one of the great personalities of our country, we will truly miss her.

Vice-Chancellor Najma Akhtar writes history again, receives Padma Shri

New Delhi: On the 73rd Republic Day, the first-ever female Vice- Chancellor of Jamia Millia Islamia, Prof. Najma Akhtar has been awarded with the prestigious award Padma Shri from President Ram Nath Kovind in the category of literature and education. She is known for the first female Vice-Chancellor of central university. Akhtar was appointed as the vice chancellor (VC) in April 2019, the same year which saw protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in December.

Last year, the University was given A++ grade by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC).

She has studied in Aligarh Muslim University and was a gold medalist. She is PhD in Education from Kurukshetra University and has done University Administration Course from University of Warwick and Nottingham. She has also been trained at the International Institute of Educational Planning at Paris.

She stands as a great motivator being an Academician and establishing the first state-level management institute at Prayagyaj (Allahabad). She has also headed the Department of Education Administration in National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA) for 15 years. And not only this, she has served as the VC of University of Kashmir. Akhtar was the Controller of Examination and Director of Academic Programs at Aligarh Muslim University and has been served as a consultant to UNESCO, UNICEF and DANIDA.

On her moment of pride, she thanked President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the government for recognising her work. Talking about the honour, she said the award gives her more encouragement to perform in future.

“I was not aiming to get it. In the last one year, the university has been achieving great heights. The VC is given the responsibility as well as the blame. I know people are recognising my work. I am obliged that the prime minister and the president are recognising my work. especially, the President, who entrusted me as the first woman VC of the university I am extremely grateful. Everyone puts in hard work, but not everyone gets recognition,” she said.

On her appointment as the first female vice chancellor in the university, she said, “My aim was not to break the glass ceiling but I was definitely against the glass ceiling. Why is it even there, if you hold the same educational qualifications and experience?” source: Hindustan times

The VC said, in a statement, that the award is an important achievement for not only herself, but for every individual associated with the university, especially female students.  “The responsibility has increased now and I will try my level best to keep up to their expectations,” she said.

The Jamia Millia Islamia, in a tweet, called Akhtar’s achievement a proud moment for the university. “It is a matter of great pride for the @jmiu_official that Vice Chancellor Prof.Najma Akhtar has been selected for #PadmaShri Award for her distinguished services in the field of literature and education,” the university tweeted. Source: Theprint

Prof. Najma has been working towards gender-equality and promoting more enrolment of women in her university. Her aim is to attenuate the gap between men and women through education.

Creativity in children

Creativity is a means of self-expression, an act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.  It helps boost one’s confidence, relieves stress and enhances personal growth. Children are naturally creative and they need to be given an outlet for exploring this creative side of theirs. We, as parents need to give them the freedom, the materials and the space and let them blossom. They will try doing new things, once, twice, many times. They may or may not succeed in their attempts, but they will learn from the mistakes they make and this learning will stay with them. Do not discourage them. Don’t compare them with anyone else Let them climb up the ladder slowly and steadily.

In the past two years, children have definitely been missing out on creative learning. Schools have moved online and the students have not been able to interact with their teachers or their classmates in the same manner as they would have been, if they had been going to school. There, they would have been engaged in some group activity, made up charts to put in the classroom or practiced for some special assembly. All that has come to a stop now. Being with friends has a huge positive impact on mental health, brings about happiness and joy and relieves loneliness.

The Covid-19 scenario has pushed us all indoors. The easiest thing for children to do is to reach out to the phone or laptop, play some games or watch something. These gadgets can provide some relief but their lives should not revolve around them. We need to strike a balance by getting the child involved in different activities that may be of interest to him/her. Don’t push them to do anything and everything, keep their skill level and interests in mind.

Art and craft activities like drawing, painting, clay modelling, origami not only nurture your child’s creativity, they also help them focus and pay attention to details. They further improve their colour sense and hand-eye coordination.

Make reading a daily habit, maybe a bedtime ritual. Read out stories to the younger ones. Older children can be encouraged to read out to you. Keep a dictionary near them so that they can look up the meanings of the difficult words. Discuss the characters in the book. Ask what the child would have done in a similar situation. Reading fuels your child’s imagination and further helps them improve their vocabulary, their storytelling and their writing skills.

Get your child involved in helping with cooking and other chores around the house. Children can help with washing and cutting vegetables or rolling out their own rotis. They can help lay the table and clear it after the meal. And NO saying, ye to ladka hai, what will he do in the kitchen??? this is equally important for the boys too. The children can also help in cleaning the rooms, folding the laundry. They are in this process learning something, being occupied and away from gadgets. It will help them become more independent, confident and self-sufficient.

Thinking activities like Jigsaw puzzles, Word games, Crossword puzzles, Sudoku help boost your child’s logical and reasoning skills.

Children will have a great learning experience while having fun when engaged in gardening. Planting seeds and watching them grow gives a sense of purpose. You will hear them talking for long about the flowers they help grow. One can maintain a kitchen garden and teach them about different plants and vegetables at the same time.

Encourage your child to turn on their favourite music, sing and dance along. Get on the floor to sing and dance with your children. You can even make this an exercise routine which will be beneficial to you as well. You will be making priceless memories.

From board games to card games, from antakshari to dumb charades. There are numerous games one can play together as a family.  Spending time together, having some fun, helps strengthen the parent-child connection. Celebrate festivals and occasions together. Grandparents at home can also guide the children towards these celebrations. Teach the children the importance of these festivals, get them involved in decorating the house. The past two years have been full of online birthday parties and this has brought the extended families closer.

The children can be encouraged to maintain a Diary. Here they can note down whatever comes to their mind. It could be something they have enjoyed doing during the day, some lines that they have thought of. It’s not possible to remember so much over time and this diary will serve as a good reference source on a later date. Who knows, maybe they dish out some short stories or poems in this way.

The internet is both a boon and a bane. For slightly older kids who are able to absorb and understand online courses, a balance between such activities online and at home needs to be arrived at. Many children have been able to do short term courses, internships online. They have been able to volunteer with NGOs and coordinated for help during the pandemic times. This gives them a sense of goodness, of having contributed (in a small way) in giving back to the society. It further helps widen their horizon and builds their portfolio. The gadget is not our enemy, we only need to use it judiciously.

The education system needs to move away from rote learning. More practical knowledge needs to be provided. A few suggestions for that would be-

Children need to be taught how to write out a cheque, a pay in slip, understand about bank interest rates. Habit of saving needs to be inculcated in them. Open a bank account for them, encourage them to deposit money and see it grow.

They need to be taught how to act in cases of emergencies such as earthquakes, fire, getting locked in a car or in a lift. These are all very essential tools for survival.

Emergency CPR techniques is something every child and adult should be taught. God forbid if one is put in such a situation, they should know how to handle it.

RWA’s should take up the initiative of each one, teach one. The children should also be involved in it. They could teach a kid younger to them or they could collectively hold classes for the children of the house help, the guards, gardener etc.

Remember! Kids learn a lot from what they see around them. You are their role model. So be mindful and be an inspiration to your kids.

‘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.