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  1. 1.  ThisWomen's Day, rather than talking about social and economic empowerment,the focus is on how to make our women feel safer on the streets,at workplaces and homes  For years now, the word 'empowerment' has been synonymous with 'International women's day', world over. Gender equality, political power, economic freedom, women's entrepreneurship — these are some of the burning topics that come up for discussion, debate and deliberation time and again, more so, on March 8. And women's Day activities in Hyderabad have been no different, so far at least. But the story seems to be different in 2013.
  2. 2.  In a remarkable change from the women's empowerment programmes that focussed on independence and equal opportunity until last year, we suddenly find ourselves in the midst of discussions that seem to be grappling with the basic issue of safety.  And why not? The New year dawned on us on a rather bleak note with the death of Nirbhaya, the Delhi gangrape victim.The brutal rape of the 23-year-old paramedic shocked the nation. once again, crime against women came into focus. And we realised, yet again, that women are safe no where — not in their homes, not on the streets, not at workplaces. It's no surprise then that the focus this Women's Day has shifted from 'empowerment' to 'safety'. From discussing ways to dealing with harassment at the workplace and highlighting laws that are in favour of women to talking about ways to make women feel safer on the streets — it's back to the basics.  You may be strong and independent economically, but that's not enough to bring you peace of mind, says Samia Alam Khan, a member of FICCI Ladies Organisation. "There is a constant sense of fear now, especially after the Delhi incident.When I went to the capital a couple of days ago, a sense of fear gripped me right from the time I got out of the airport until I got back home."  But home needn't be safe either, points out Gayathri Natrajan, a marketing professional, adding that women in their 20s and 30s, who have been brought up to be independent, have suddenly realised that their 'independence' comes with a risk. "safety is something that cannot be taken for granted anymore," she says, adding, "I had to deal with eve-teasers right outside my house the other day. Ever since, I am extra careful when I have to venture out late at night." This seems to be the only concern among young women across the city. And like Ayesha H, a professor, wonders, of what use is empowerment without safety? "What will we do with money and education, if we are not physically and emotionally secure in our society?" asks Ayesha.
  3. 3.  "It is sad that the struggle to empower women has taken such a turn," says Saraswati Kavula, a filmmaker dealing with rural issues, who feels a tinge of regret at this shift. attributing it to a lack of proper gender sensitisation amongst men and families, she adds, "I work primarily in rural India, and I've noticed that while we thought of women's liberation and empowerment, we've never looked at family as a whole. we've tried to empower women to be financially independent and to be able to assert their rights, but there has been no attempt to educate their families about the same. So we're seeing an increase in domestic violence. In fact, even in cities we find that highly educated women find themselves facing dowry issues. " Women's rights activist Ambika echoes the same thoughts. "there has been little that has been done on this front," she says, adding, "Though there is more focus on the issues of women's safety today, the problem is that we are sliding backwards in terms of values
  4. 4. If people are serious about women’s safety, they should start by forming voluntary vigilance groups to assist the police in keeping their respective localities safe at night. Victims of marital rape should also come forward and register their complaints with the police. Delivering justice to the six guilty in the Delhi incident alone won’t ensure safety for each and every woman.
  5. 5. With reference to the editorial No two ways about it the fact that 92% men in Delhi admit that some or all of their friends have made passes at women in public places at some point of time shows that Indian men need to change their mindset. To end violence against women, we must treat them as equal citizens.
  6. 6.  Essentially, I suppose we are all trying to figure out how India can be made safer and more empathetic for all women. And these lines of questioning are legitimate. They might eventually help us make our cities, towns, and homes safer. But not immediately, not right now.+  Right now, make no mistake about it, we need something that forms the foundation of a safe society: a functioning law-and-order system. No amount of soul searching, cultural self-flagellation, sex education, local activism, and behavioral conditioning will succeed unless our streets are well-policed and our courts function with speed and efficiency.+  And this is exactly why I am afraid India will remain an unsafe country for women for the foreseeable future. Now I know this is not the message that many campaigners for women’s safety want to hear. Many of them are optimistic that some kind of governmental or non-governmental campaigning will make India safer. But as long these campaigns are divorced from a substantial overhaul of law and order mechanisms, they will not work.
  7. 7. 1. Establish high-level corporate leadership for gender equality. 2.Treat all women and men fairly at work – respect and support human rights and nondiscrimination. 3. Ensure the health, safety and well-being of all women and men workers. 4. Promote education, training and professional development for women. 5. Implement enterprise development, supply chain and marketing practices that empower women. 6. Promote equality through community initiatives and advocacy. 7. Measure and publicly report on progress to achieve gender equality.
  8. 8. a. Affirm high-level support and direct top-level policies for gender equality and human rights. b. Establish company-wide goals and targets for gender equality and include progress as a factor in managers’ performance reviews. c. Engage internal and external stakeholders in the development of company policies, programmes and implementation plans that advance equality. d. Ensure that all policies are gender-sensitive – identifying factors that impact women and men differently – and that corporate culture advances equality and inclusion.
  9. 9. a.Pay equal remuneration, including benefits, for work of equal value and strive to pay a living wage to all women and men. b. Ensure that workplace policies and practices are free from gender-based discrimination. c. Implement gender-sensitive recruitment and retention practices and proactively recruit and appoint women to managerial and executive positions and to the corporate board of directors. d. Assure sufficient participation of women – 30% or greater – in decision-making and governance at all levels and across all business areas. e. Offer flexible work options, leave and re-entry opportunities to positions of equal pay and status. f. Support access to child and dependent care by providing services, resources and information to both women and men.
  10. 10. a.Taking into account differential impacts on women and men, provide safe working conditions and protection from exposure to hazardous materials and disclose potential risks, including to reproductive health. b. Establish a zero-tolerance policy towards all forms of violence at work, including verbal and/or physical abuse, and prevent sexual harassment. c. Strive to offer health insurance or other needed services – including for survivors of domestic violence – and ensure equal access for all employees. d. Respect women and men workers’ rights to time off for medical care and counseling for themselves and their dependents. e. In consultation with employees, identify and address security issues, including the safety of women traveling to and from work and on company-related business. f.Train security staff and managers to recognize signs of violence against women and understand laws and company policies on human trafficking, labour and sexual exploitation.
  11. 11. a. Invest in workplace policies and programmes that open avenues for advancement of women at all levels and across all business areas, and encourage women to enter nontraditional job fields. b. Ensure equal access to all company-supported education and training programmes, including literacy classes, vocational and information technology training. c. Provide equal opportunities for formal and informal networking and mentoring. d. Offer opportunities to promote the business case for women’s empowerment and the positive impact of inclusion for men as well as women.
  12. 12. a. Expand business relationships with women-owned enterprises, including small businesses, and women entrepreneurs. b. Support gender-sensitive solutions to credit and lending barriers. c. Ask business partners and peers to respect the company’s commitment to advancing equality and inclusion. d. Respect the dignity of women in all marketing and other company materials.
  13. 13. a. Lead by example – showcase company commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment. b. Leverage influence, alone or in partnership, to advocate for gender equality and collaborate with business partners, suppliers and community leaders to promote inclusion. c.Work with community stakeholders, officials and others to eliminate discrimination and exploitation and open opportunities for women and girls. d. Promote and recognize women’s leadership in, and contributions to, their communities and ensure sufficient representation of women in any community consultation.
  14. 14. a. Make public the company policies and implementation plan for promoting gender equality. b. Establish benchmarks that quantify inclusion of women at all levels. c. Measure and report on progress, both internally and externally, using data disaggregated by gender. d. Incorporate gender markers into ongoing reporting obligations.