Women and Gender Development Cell (WGDC)

Gender Champions

Gender Discrimination is a systematic, unfavourable treatment of individuals on the basis of their gender (As per the UGC Regulations 2015, Section 3 (d)), which denies them rights, opportunities or resources within any given society. At TISS a strong policy on non-discrimination on the basis of caste, tribe, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability and region has emerged over the years. It has been a consistent endeavour on part of all stakeholders to ensure zero tolerance of discriminatory behaviours within the campus.

In the Higher Education Institution (HEI) campuses students, faculty members as well as staff members come from different regions, and diverse social and cultural realities. Very often there are stereotypical ideas and prejudices about the ‘others’, resulting in insensitivity towards certain identities, beliefs, values, including language, and behavioural practices, which in turn may lead to discriminatory behaviour and hostility on campus. As the Saksham document points out, all members in HEIs, in principle should understand the following:

“Given the realities of a heterogeneous and diverse student body, purely punitive approaches to issues of the ‘safety’ of women and gender sensitization serves little purpose in terms of meaningful intervention howeverwell intentioned’ they may be. Instead approaches must be educative, preventive and correctional”

Therefore in colleges and universities which are spaces in which people with different ideas and patterns of socialization about gender issues interact, cultures of inclusion and sensitivity to diversity become an important pre- requisite to respond to violence of all kinds and more especially when women members are the targets. Gender justice on campuses is clearly not an ‘isolated operation’ requiring quick fix solutions, but an exercise involving a perspectival shift that is able to set down norms of respect, non-discrimination and the unacceptability of any abuse of power, along with robust processes of debate, discussion and dialogue. This has to be the purpose of a new pedagogy within which issues of gender justice are seen as an integral part - not as ‘women’s issues’ to be ghettoized or added on to academic or curricular agendas as a ‘requirement’ or afterthought. Similar steps need to be taken on issues of gender non-normative identities/expressions, sexualities and relationships among different genders.

Each year TISS facilitates the election of students to become representatives of Women Development Cells. These students are trained and oriented to actively counsel other students who may be facing difficulties based on gender and also identify sexist behaviours among the members of TISS community and report the same to the Women Development Cell (comprising of faculty, student and staff members). Some of the other roles performed by these students are:

  1. Conducting outreach work for gender awareness and also identifying those who are facing discrimination, providing support and creating an enabling environment for sharing anxieties, problems and difficulties faced by women and persons with gender non-normative behaviours
  2. Understanding and progressively engaging with issues of women, gender, non-normative behaviours, non-binary gender expressions and identifying discriminatory behaviours for initiating dialogue, discussions, workshops, street plays, panel discussions and film shows in the campus.
  3. Being aware and vigilant of gender discriminatory practices, behaviours and gender-based violence amongst all stakeholders at TISS (including, staff, students and faculty).
  4. Being clear about the UGC (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal of Sexual Harassment of Women Employees and Students at Higher Education) Regulations, 2015 and thereby the forms of discrimination and violence. TISS mandates that all student representatives be part of gender-based orientations and workshops, before beginning their work on the campus.

In view of the UGC guidelines and proposal on gender champions, from the academic year 2018-19 the WDC student representatives are being re-designated as Gender Champions (GCs). The number of such Gender Champions will be selected from each of the BA and MA programmes offered at TISS, at each of its four campuses. There will be one GC for every study programme giving at least 40-50 GCs in the Mumbai campus and about 10-15 in the off-site campuses.

  1. Eligibility Criteria for Gender Champions
    • Gender champions will be women, men and persons with gender non-normative identities, expressions/ preferences
    • They should have a clear commitment towards gender equality, gender-based non-discrimination and basic knowledge of socio-cultural and gender-based issues
    • They should have good leadership, communication and presentation skills
    • They should possess good people centered skills to be able to reach out to different persons in the campus
    • They should display readiness to invest time for organizing workshops, programmes and attend meetings
  2. Selection Principles
    The students shall be selected by the Head of the Institution in consultation with the student and faculty representatives of the Women Development Cell of TISS on the basis of their potential and having commitment to gender issues. The following criteria will be kept in mind for selection:

    • Engages in visible and hands-on initiatives to reduce gender disparities and has organizational skills, including the ability to manage priorities,
    • Makes continuous and substantive time investments in mentoring his/her peers
    • Is easily approachable by students/peer as a supporter of gender equality
    • Has some experience in the field of gender equality and the issues and debates
  3. Selection Process

    • Head of the Institution will put up the guidelines/eligibility criteria on the notice board
    • Applications from interested Gender Champions shall be invited giving time of at least one month
    • The applications will be screened by a Screening Committee formed by the Head of the Institution and will comprise of faculty and student members (one female and one male) from the GAC.
    • The applicants will be selected on the basis of interviews
    • One Faculty member from the Women Development Cell will be given the task as Nodal Faculty to facilitate the work of the Gender Champions
  4. Duties and Responsibilities of the Nodal Faculty

    • The Nodal Faculty will work with the Programme Officer of WDC to provide all support to the Gender Champions to initiate activities and their implementation
    • Organise and participate in all meetings (at least twice per semester) organized by the Gender Champions
    • Motivate and influence the Gender Champions to constantly pursue their activities
    • Communicate with a wide range of stakeholders to facilitate the work of the Gender Champions
    • Facilitate Gender Champions to organize training programmes and other events
    • Collect quarterly reports prepared by Gender Champions and submit the same to the Head of the Institution
    • Facilitate and develop an annual calendar of activities for the year
  5. Term of Gender Champions:
    The term of Gender Champions will be for one year, extendable by one more year, based on their performance during the year. The selection of GCs will be done within one month of the beginning of the academic year.

  6. Monitoring and Evaluation

    • A list of Gender Champions will be maintained by the Institute and also put up in prominent places with details of email IDs and phone numbers
    • At the end of the year their work will be assessed based on their reports and an interaction with the Chairperson of WDC and WDC members of the Institute
    • A certificate of appreciation will be issued by the Institute to Gender Champions based on the assessment.