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 however ‘well 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 and Gender Development Cells. These students are trained and oriented to actively support other students who may be facing difficulties based on gender and sexuality, and also identify and question discriminatory behaviours as and when they may happen. Some of the other roles performed by these students are:
1. Liaise with the Women and Gender Development Cell on campus to conduct outreach work for gender awareness on campus.
2. The Advocates are expected to provide support and work towards creating an enabling environment for sharing anxieties, problems and difficulties, thus helping identify ways forward for those who are facing discrimination.
3. Understand and progressively engage with issues of gender as a social location, intersecting with other vulnerabilities.
4. Identify discriminatory behaviours towards persons in gendermarginal locations, including cis-women, persons identifying outside the binary, or discriminatory behaviour towards nonnormative sexualities and expressions.
5. To initiate dialogue on these questions within the TISS student community through multiple formats discussions, workshops, street plays, panel discussions and film shows in the campus.
6. To be aware and vigilant of gender discriminatory practices, behaviours and genderbased violence amongst all stakeholders at TISS (including, staff, students and faculty).
7. Be 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 genderbased orientations and workshops, as they begin their work on the campus.
In view of the UGC guidelines and proposal on gender champions, TISS has introduced a process of inducting Gender Advocates from each batch of students. Gender Advocates will be selected from each of the BA and MA programmes offered at TISS, at each of its four campuses.
1. Eligibility Criteria for Gender Advocates
Students identifying with all gender locations are welcome to apply.
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 and Gender Development Cell of TISS on the basis of their potential and having commitment to gender issues.
3. Selection Process
Head of the Institution will put up the guidelines/eligibility criteria on the notice board.
Applications from interested Gender Advocates shall be invited giving time of at least one month.
The applications will be screened by a group designated at the WGDC.
The applicants will be selected on the basis of interviews.
One Faculty member from the Women and Gender Development Cell will be given the task as Nodal Faculty to facilitate the work of the Gender Advocates
4. Duties and Responsibilities of the Nodal Faculty
The Nodal Faculty will work with the Programme Officer of WGDC to provide all support to the Gender Advocates to initiate activities and their implementation.
Organise and participate in all meetings (at least twice per semester) organized by the Gender Advocates.
Motivate and train the Gender Advocates to take their work forward.
Facilitate and develop an annual calendar of activities for the year
5. Term of Gender Advocates: The term of Gender Advocates will be for one year, extendable by one more year, based on their performance during the year. The selection of GAs will be done within one month of the beginning of the academic year.
6. Monitoring and Evaluation
A list of Gender Advocates 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 and members of WGDC.
A certificate of appreciation will be issued by the Institute to Gender Advocates based on the assessment.