Participants at a two-day seminar, Women in media: need for a gender code, made a forceful plea for media companies to adhere to the Visakha committee guidelines against sexual harassment at the workplace.
Pallavi S. Dempo, executive director, Navhind Papers and Publications Ltd. inaugurated the seminar, which was jointly organised by the International Centre Goa (ICG), Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, India, Goa Union of Journalists (GUJ) and Media Information and Communication Centre of India (MICCI).
Nandini Sahai, ICG director, spoke of how lack of gender responsive policies and non-implementation of special working conditions for women in the media have adversely affected their numbers and prospects.
Portrayal of women
Rajeshwar Dyal, senior adviser, FES India, expressed concern over the portrayal of women in the media. The sector was expanding but still lacked a media policy, he said.
His group was working on an India-specific gender policy for media, in collaboration with the MICCI; it would be in place in the next couple of years. The gender code would address both issues faced by women mediapersons as well as concerns on portrayal of women in the media.
Vithaldas Hegde, general secretary of GUJ, accused media organisations of not encouraging women journalists by implementing affirmative policies on working conditions, leave and promotion. The media groups were indifferent to setting up Visakha committees, providing women a mechanism for redressal of complaints about sexual harassment at the workplace.
During a session on ‘Women journalists: glamour and reality’, Kiran Budkule, Head of the Department of English, Goa University, advised young journalists to develop a strong persona so that they are taken seriously.
On the issue of sexual harassment, she said: “The woman need not be ashamed, it is the perpetrator of molestation or sexual abuse that need to be ashamed.”
Social worker Chitra Kshirsagar, Tarun Bharat journalist Kalika Bapat, novelist Vishram Gupte, Times of India (Goa) editor K.R. Sreenivas, and journalists Gauri Gharpure, Danuska DaGama, Sangamitra Mainkar and Sandesh Prabhudesai were among those who participated in the various sessions at the seminar.