“One of the most pervasive ways of subjugation, intimidation and discrimination against women in the workplace is sexual harassment” -- Dr. Martha Farrell (1959-2015)
It was Dr Martha Farrell who pioneered PRIA’s work on Prevention of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace. Martha’s crusade for gender mainstreaming in organisations began in 1998 when the Vishakha Guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces were formulated by the Supreme Court of India. She ensured that PRIA developed a mechanism towards this end—a Board-mandated Committee on Gender Awareness and Mainstreaming in PRIA (CGAMP) was established. It was through her sustained efforts that the policy of ‘zero tolerance’ in this regard was enforced in all workshops, meetings and offices of PRIA and its close partners.
In the 18 years since the Supreme Court of India passed the Vishakha Guidelines and 2 years since the law on Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace came into effect, PRIA has trained more than 20,000 individuals and supported a dynamic group of organisations (corporate, government, academic and development) to meet compliance standards as mandated by the law.
An assessment of 130 organisations from the corporate sector found 31% not complying with the Act. In an informal safety audit of Delhi University, 39% of the students reported that they had faced sexual harassment on campus quite often or often. In a participatory safety audit conducted by PRIA in 22 educational institutions (20 schools and 2 universities) in Sonepat, Haryana, 90% of the girls reported having faced sexual harassment within their institutions.
This situation on the ground for women who enter the workforce means we need to continue our efforts to raise awareness on the issue and make workplaces safer for all women by:
1. Working with organisations to comply with the law by:
• Framing a comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy for organisations
• Helping them constitute internal complaints committee in the organisation
• Building capacities of all levels of employees on the issue through face to face trainings and online short training modules
• Appointing PRIA as Third Party Representation on their internal complaints committee
• Developing informative guidebooks, manuals, posters and other IEC materials.
• Advising and guiding senior management and internal complaints committee on legal and practical aspects of dealing with the issue in their organisation
2. Ensuring effective functioning of complaints committees: We prepare individuals to become external members and perform their roles effectively as third party facilitators in internal and local complaints committee through an intensive training and coaching programme.
3. Offering fellowships to interested practitioners and social work students to undertake action-oriented research on the topic, get advanced certification and join a pool of trainers.
In collaboration with Martha Farrell Foundation