Create gender champions: UGC tells edu institutes

Gender equality has been a topic often discussed on several platforms, and a joint initiative of the Ministry of Human Resource Development and the Ministry of Women and Child Development will ensure bigger steps in its implementation.

According to a circular released by the University Grants Commission (UGC), all universities and colleges across the country are being encouraged to set up platforms where gender equality can be discussed freely.

“In order to promote gender equality, guaranteed by Article 15 of the Indian Constitution, we need to change the mode of interaction at all levels home, school, workplace and so on.

To increase the outreach for creating an environment that fosters equal treatment, government envisages engagement of ‘Gender Champions’ in all school and colleges across the country,” states the circular.

The purpose of gender champions, states the circular, is to engage young boys and girls to challenge and shift gender norms that contribute to girls and women having less worth, opportunities and decision-making ability than boys and men.

The circular, released earlier this month, also lists roles and responsibilities of the gender champions, which include conducting group discussions, debates, etc., to engage a variety of stakeholders from schools, colleges, civil society organisations, women’s groups, etc in gender mainstreaming activities.

It also encourages colleges to conduct annual festivals based on the theme of gender equality, as well as popularise phone numbers of police and women helpline numbers in times of emergency. When mid-day contacted college heads in the city, they highlighted how such issues are already being addressed by students regularly.

“We have various festivals that use this as a theme, as well as our Women’s Development Cell, and anti-ragging cells work regularly to spread awareness not only on campus, but also off campus,” said Marie Fernandes, principal of St Andrew’s college in Bandra.

She added that ever since the 2014 Supreme Court order on inclusion of the third gender in education institutes, the college has been organising many sensitising workshops for everybody, also in order to make their campus more friendly towards the third gender.

UGC has also requested college heads to regularly follow up with gender champions on the events being organised so as to send a report on the same to them by the end of the academic year.

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