Education matters when women have to deal with sexism at education and workplace

Creating awareness among students is also an important part of education. The topic of women’s harassment at education or workplace may appear audacious; but the focus of our education system needs to necessarily go beyond marks, ranks and comparative definitions of success. Emphasis on creating such awareness in our students, especially girls, giving them right direction in shaping their future, should also be a part of our curriculum.

Harassment at work or school can be, denigrating since these environments are part of people’s everyday lives. As college students prepare to enter the workforce in a post-“Me Too” world, company culture could become a bigger factor in deciding what jobs they accept.

Over past few decades, research, activity, and funding has been devoted to improving the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women in the fields of science, medicine, engineering and corporate sector as well. In recent years the participation of women, particularly in these fields has improved markedly and there are significantly more women entering careers and studying science, engineering, medicine, management and law. However, as women are increasingly entering these fields they face biases and barriers and it is not surprising that physical harassment, bullying etc. are also one of these barriers. These issues have a drastic impact on one’s physical, emotional health, performance, and morale.

The discouraging factor about this situation is that at the same time so much energy and funds are being invested in efforts to attract and retain women in science, engineering and medical fields, it appears women are often bullied or harassed out of career pathways. Even when they try to sustain, their ability to contribute and advance in their field can be limited as a consequence of their abuse---either from harassment directed at them; the environment in their department, program or discipline or retaliation and betrayal they experience after formally reporting the harassment. Any kind of bullying or harassment impedes their rate of growth in the competitive world and also affects the performance of an individual. Reasonable apprehension, humiliation, and health & safety problem at work is also understood as bullying.


Women harassment at workplace or educational institutions can be seen as gender discrimination which takes place in institutions and organizations which violates the fundamental rights of the (Individuals) women conferred under article 14, 15 and 21 of the Indian Constitution.  In India, often the cases of Workplace harassment of women go unreported as the victims prefer to keep quiet, rather than facing humiliation. The first legislation in this regard was enacted in 2013, The Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which is also called POSH act. The act was enacted to prevent the women from harassment at workplace. 


The landmark case of Vishakha vs the state of Rajasthan, lead to the establishment of the act. This case serves as a guiding principle for the case of harassment against women.  Under this case, for the first time, the definition of sexual harassment was provided and several guidelines were issued regarding harassment in workplaces and the guidelines issued in the judgment are currently the law of the land. Under the absence of specific law ‘Vishaka guidelines’ were followed by the employers. It took 16 years after the judgment to replace the guidelines with the Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013. Before the Supreme Court’s landmark judgment, the cases were dealt with under various sections of IPC, Section 354 and Section 509 which deals with outraging the modesty of women.


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Many educational institutions are proactive in creating awareness among their female students by organizing women harassment awareness programmes as a part of their induction programmes. Undoubtedly, stepping up in this direction, our organization has constituted an Anti- women harassment committee, and has progressed towards certain self-defence training programs. But every new session demands some pro-active steps to create awareness amongst our girl students who come from different family backgrounds where gender biasing is prevalent in terms of suppression of their voices against any mishap.

Still much more to say, further discussion on this topic will be carried on in the upcoming next blog.