Women faculties must have the conveniences of day-care centres, health centres, and access to resources/ fellowship to pursue higher education

Group discussions on empowerment of women students in colleges and universities, creating adequate facilities to enhance their self-esteem in higher educational institutions, and a stock-taking on challenges facing women in the society marked a recent day-long workshop on ‘Gender Specific Needs, concerns, courses for Academic Institutions – Possible Strategies and Policies’, jointly organised by the Regional Association for Women’s Studies [RAWS] and Centre for Women’s Studies, Cauvery College.

A discussion on action-plan for empowerment of women by identifying their specific needs was moderated by Geetha, Deputy Director, Centre for Women’s Studies, Madurai Kamaraj University. They deliberated on the methods to dispel gender bias and disparity among faculties, the importance of constructing girl-friendly toilets in proportion to their strength, necessity for appointment of counselors for women students, and the imperative need for starting gender sensitization clubs. Likewise, women faculties must have the conveniences of day-care centres, health centres, and access to resources/ fellowship to pursue higher education.

The second group led by Principal Judge, Namakkal District, discussed strategies for mobilizing the resources and identified driving factors for implementing the action plans overcoming impediments. This group advocated quality food in hostels round the clock for women, introduction of extra courses for women to prepare them for competitive examinations, constitution of a protection cell for provision of security, and measures to enforce Supreme Court guidelines for prevention of harassment at work places and academic premises.

Referring to the prevalence of gender discrimination and negative stereotypes, the third group coordinated by the Vice-Principal of Cauvery College for Women Kanaga called for self awareness and sensitization programmes; incorporation of women and gender issues in syllabus; open discussions on gender and masculinity, training in self-defensive skills; and making gender development courses visible to all students.