A Global Dialogue on Harassment & Discrimination
Towards a Positive Future
‘Harassment and Discrimination’.
A Global Dialogue on Harassment & Discrimination
Towards a Positive Future
Indian Social Activist
Bhanwari Devi is an Indian social activist known for her tireless efforts to combat child marriage and promote gender equality. Born in 1950 in Bhateri village, Rajasthan, Bhanwari Devi hails from a marginalized community and faced numerous challenges in her early life. Despite limited formal education, she became a beacon of change through her determined activism.
Women's activists and lawyers have propagated the view that Bhanwari attracted the ire of her rapists solely on the basis of her work. A number of groups which championed the latter view filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court of India, under the collective platform of Vishakha. The petition, filed by Vishakha and four other women's organizations in Rajasthan against the State of Rajasthan and the Union of India, resulted in what are popularly known as the Vishakha Guidelines. The judgment of August 1997 provided to basic definitions of sexual harassment at the workplace and provided guidelines to deal with it. It is seen as a significant legal victory for women's groups in India.
Bhanwari received honours both nationally and internationally. She was invited to be a part of the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. In 1994, she was awarded the Neerja Bhanot Memorial Award carrying ₹1 lakh cash prize, for her "extraordinary courage, conviction and commitment".
(Retired) Authored the Vishaka judgement in 1997 and laid down the Vishaka Guidelines which became the basis of the POSH Act, 2013
Honourable Justice Sujata Vasant Manohar was the first lady to be elevated as a Judge on the bench of Bombay High Court. Her Ladyship was also the first woman Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court and took oath to Office of Chief Justice on 15th January 1994. Her Ladyship was transferred as Chief Justice of Kerala High Court with effect from 21st April 1994. Her Ladyship was elevated as Judge of the Supreme Court of India with effect from 8th November, 1994 and retired on 28th August, 1999.
Her Ladyship also authored the landmark Vishaka Guidelines which eventually led to the passing of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013.
(Retired) Authored the NALSA judgement in 2014, recognizing the right of transgender persons, which became the basis of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2019
Honourable Justice Arjan Kumar Sikri was appointed as a Judge of the Delhi High Court on July 7th 1999. His Lordship was appointed as the Acting Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court on October 10th 2011 and elevated as the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 23rd 2012. His Lordship was elevated to the Supreme Court of India on April 12th 2013.
In 2014, Justice Sikri along with Justice KS Radhakrishan gave the historic NALSA judgment that recognised transgenders as the third gender entitled to the full spectrum of constitutional and legal rights bestowed upon the citizens.
Chairperson National Commission for Women
Ms. Rekha Sharma assumed the charge of Chairperson, National Commission for Women on August 7, 2018. If one takes a closer look at her style of working, the two distinct virtues that define her are leadership spirit and relentless will to keep doing good for women in need. If NCW is known for working round the clock for addressing women’s issues, it is because of her pioneering efforts to be ever ready and reachable for women across the country.
She has been associated with the Commission as a member since August, 2015 and held the additional charge as Chairperson, NCW with effect from September 29, 2017 before becoming its Chairperson on August 7, 2018.
NCW has been setting up new milestones under her leadership ever since she's been at the helm of affairs with the latest being the new helpline launched by the Commission on July 27, 2021 for providing 24/7 support to women affected by violence through referral by linking them with appropriate authorities such as police, hospitals, District Legal Service Authority, psychological services etc. Ever since its launch, the helpline has been functional round-the-clock facilitating integrated range of services for women affected by violence under one roof such as help from police, psycho-social counselling and access to One Stop Centres among other services.
She has been a vocal advocate of gender sensitization of police personnel since they are the first point of contact for victims. Keeping up with NCW’s efforts to sensitize police officials, the Commission signed an MoU with the Bureau of Police Research and Development for gender sensitisation of police personnel across the country and to bring attitudinal and behavioural changes in them. The programme is being fully sponsored by NCW and facilitated by BPR&D.
In continuation with the extraordinary work that the Commission did during the first phase of the pandemic, NCW was quick to rise to the occasion when pregnant women were struggling for medical aid in the second phase of Covid. On April 29, 2021, the Commission launched a Whatsapp helpline number, another brain child of Madam Chairperson to assist pregnant women with medical emergencies. The helpline which had started from a single tweet of Madam Chairperson calling all expecting mothers in need to approach NCW has helped over 900 women till date. The helpline also received huge support from doctors all over the country who came forward to give teleconsultation services to women. The helpline was well received among the general public as well, many of whom donated plasma to expecting mothers.
Madam Chairperson has been an ardent supporter of economic empowerment of women and in continuance with the Commission’s efforts to make women independent and self reliant, NCW launched a business and management course to support digital learning among 5,000 aspiring women entrepreneurs. Under the 'Empowering Women through Entrepreneurship' programme, launched on March 5, 2021, selected women entrepreneurs will be given a special chance to be mentored and incubated by knowledge and mentoring partner after completion of the course. The NCW has collaborated with the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, and India SME Forum, the country's largest not-for-profit organization for small and medium enterprises, for the online training programme.
The Commission also launched the third phase of We Think Digital, a global digital literacy program run by NCW, Cyber Peace Foundation and Facebook with an aim to provide digital literacy training to 1.50 lakh women for effectively using online resources and grievance redressal mechanisms to women across states including, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Bihar. The programme has sensitized over 1,05,000 women in its second phase. In 2018, it was launched as 'Digital Shakti' campaign under which 60,000 women across India were imparted digital literacy and trained in online safety.
Madam has chaired a large number of Mahila Jan Sunwais/ Public Hearings in several states across the country and has addressed the issues related to female prisoners including improving the conditions of the undertrials. The inquiry committees chaired by Ms Sharma have been crucial in getting justice for victims of violence. It was under the Chairperson that NCW held the first ever jansunwai in Jammu where cases related to grievances of women were taken up and resolved by the Commission. It was after the Chairperson’s week-long visit to Jammu and Kashmir that the Commission created a separate cell to deal with issues in the region. The Cell will deal with complaints received from the two UTs and will look into the development activities related to women of these regions.
The Commission organizes consultations on a range of laws concerning women. Under her leadership, NCW has conducted consultations on Domestic Violence, Cyber Crime, Sexual Harassment at Workplace, Inter-state women migrant workers, and Female Labour Force Participation Rate (FLFPR) to discuss the existing legislation and policy perspectives for addressing the problems.
NCW launched a project series, ‘Training Programme of Protection Officers in addressing Domestic Violence’ in collaboration with Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA) to address the specific needs of Protection Officers in responding to survivors of domestic violence. The training will focus on the role of different stakeholders/service providers under the Act including police, legal aid services, health system, service providers, shelter services, one stop centres etc.
On August 15, 2020, NCW launched a campaign with the National Legal Services Authority on empowering women through legal services. The campaign aims to legally empower women especially hailing from remote corners of the country. It was launched in eight states with the help of a detailed chain of District Legal Services Authority and the campaign material will be translated into vernacular languages to reach as many women as possible.
During the extraordinary times of the first wave of COVID, when the country was put under a lockdown, NCW under her leadership stood apart with its quick measures to address the new challenges faced by women. The Commission in her guidance has launched a one of its kind WhatsApp helpline number for women in addition to the robust complaint registration system already in place. She was also the pioneer in setting up a special Happy To Help taskforce during the pandemic to help the elderly stuck at home alone in the lockdown helping them with medical emergencies and for procuring essential needs such as groceries and medicines.
Ms Sharma believes in molding the perspective of the society for effective redressal of women’s issues and therefore the Commission regularly organises state and national level competitions on women related laws for students and general public to bring them closer to the concept of gender equality. The Commission under her leadership has also developed legal awareness programmes in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalay Sangathans for students of Class 11th and 12th and also for the students of central and state universities.
When the Supreme Court of India recently held that Hindu women were to be joint legal heir in their ancestral property at par with men, it was also a victory for her untiring advocacy for equal property rights for women. The Commission under her leadership has reviewed some important laws related to women such as Property Rights of women. NCW has also reviewed the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act and the guardianship rights of mothers following which the recommendations were sent to the ministry.
NCW also organized a consultation on policy formulation on ‘Women & Children in disasters’ as women and children are the most adversely affected in cases of a disaster 48 representatives from civil society, State Commissions for Women, National Disaster Management Authority, National Disaster Relief Force, National Institute for Disaster Management, NHRC and NCPCR participated in the deliberations.
She has worked extensively for the welfare of the north eastern women conducting outreach programmes for students to equip them of their rights and the legal recourse to combat crimes targeted against them. She had conceptualized and organised a mega webinar on issues concerning women from north eastern region living in metropolitan cities which saw the participation of important officials from ministries, NGOs and other civil society organizations. The Commission has also held review of laws related to inter-state women migrant workers and the challenges faced by them.
She held a meeting with 30 police chiefs and representatives for ensuring quick redressal of cases related to domestic violence in the times of COVID along with emphasis on other issues such as problems faced by women migrant workers, cyber crime against women etc.
Ms Sharma has played a pivotal role in the inspection of Swadhar Grehs, functioning under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. The Commission has evolved a comprehensive proforma which was sent to 404 Swadhar Grehs (SGs) across the country, to get information on the different aspects of their functioning.
The National Commission for Women has also reviewed the proper execution of women-centric schemes of the government under the Aspirational Districts announced by the Niti Aayog. The Commission members visited these districts and made a compliance report on the effective implementation of women-related schemes of the Centre.
The Commission in order to inform people about the issues related to NRI marriages had conducted a National Seminar in collaboration with Punjab School of Law and National Women's Centre, Punjabi University, Patiala on the topic to spread awareness on the effectiveness of legal remedies available for Indian women trapped in abusive NRI marriages.
Country Representative, UN Women
Susan Ferguson has 21 years of international gender and development experience and a further 20 years of development experience in Australia. She has lived and worked overseas – India, South Africa, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
Susan has worked across the global Australian Aid program, as a gender specialist, completing in-country missions in Philippines (Mindanao), Bangladesh, Myanmar, Afghanistan, Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Timor Leste, to name a few.
Before working overseas, Susan was an experienced development worker in Australia, designing social services for women, refugees and young people, or working in civil society or government institutions to advance equality and meet the needs of the poorest.
Associate Director, Strategic Prevention Initiatives Office for Gender Equity Harvard University
Rachel DiBella serves as Associate Director for Strategic Prevention Initiatives in the Office for Gender Equity at Harvard University. In her role, Rachel oversees multipronged efforts to prevent and respond to gender-related violence and harm, and to support diversity across the institution. This work spans coalition building, outreach and engagement, training, learning and development, and consultation with organizational leaders in the academic workplace.
Rachel is currently a Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health at William James College, where she is pursuing a Doctor of Psychology, examining the roles of leadership in organizational trauma and resilience. Rachel is additionally a licensed psychotherapist, group facilitator, and part-time faculty at Boston College. Prior to joining Harvard, Rachel oversaw LGBT health, violence prevention, and gender justice initiatives in higher education, healthcare, and legal systems.
Ramjas College, Delhi University
Vinita Chandra has done her Bachelors, Masters, and M.Phil in English Literature from Delhi University, India. She has done her Masters in English Literature, and PhD from Rutgers University, USA. Her Doctoral Thesis is titled ‘Constructing National Identities: Indo-Anglian Fiction’. She is an Associate Professor in Ramjas College, Delhi University, India, and has been teaching English Literature there from 1986 to present.
Vinita has been involved with issues of Gender and Sexual Harassment for the last two decades. She is one of the founding members of the Gender Forum, Ramjas College. She has been the Chairperson of the Sexual Harassment Complaints Committee several times since it was made mandatory by law. She conducts workshops, orientations, lectures, and discussions on sexual harassment routinely. She has published and given interviews about sexual harassment extensively over the last few years. She has contributed a chapter to The Routledge Handbook of the Politics of the #MeToo Movement which came out in 2021. She teaches a module in the United Nations University Gender Equality Scholarship and Training (GEST) on Gender Security and Violence in Reykjyavik, Iceland.
Executive Director, Human Resources
Mahendra is an Executive Director at Morgan Stanley Human Resources, leading teams across Employee Relations, Risk & Labour Laws Compliance in India. Mahendra has over 2 decades of experience in Human Resources in various industries from Indian Armed Forces, IT, Financial Services, Banking.
Mahendra holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Electrical Engineering from SPCE, Mumbai and General Management from IIM Lucknow.
Head of Employee Relations at Credit Suisse, India
Poonam is a seasoned employee relations professional with 25 years of experience, known for her commitment to fostering positive workplace relationships.
She currently serves as the Head of Employee Relations at Credit Suisse, India. Prior to this, she has played a key role at JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Throughout her career, Poonam has successfully handled a wide range of employee-related matters, including conflict resolution, discrimination, workplace harassment, sexual harassment, and other work-related grievances. She is known for her exceptional interpersonal skills, which enables her to communicate effectively and empathetically with employees at all levels of an organisation.
Poonam is a strong advocate for fairness and equity in the workplace, having developed and implemented policies and procedures that promote inclusivity and diversity. She has a proven track record of building and leading high-performing employee relations teams.
She is an expert in managing POSH cases and has been instrumental in creating policies in alignment with the POSH Law.
As an employee relations leader, Poonam is committed to creating harmonious and productive work environments where employees feel valued and supported, ultimately contributing to the success and growth of the organisation.
Safe, Responsible Innovation + Development of Frontier Technology | Head of Research | Doctoral Researcher Kabuni
Nina Jane Patel spends her time exploring the intersection of psychology, technology, education, and mental health.
As the co-founder and Head of Metaverse Research for Kabuni, she is considered a thought leader on the physiological and psychological impact of the Metaverse, investigating the implications of safety, psychology and physiology of human interaction in this rapidly evolving realm.
Patel is a leading advocate for innovation and education with a commitment to using her expertise to drive positive change. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, she has been awarded the prestigious Wilkie Calvert Scholar Award, which supports her research into the physiological and psychological effects of the Metaverse. Additionally, she was recently honored by the Canada Council for the Arts for her new research investigating the relationship of the body, movement and self-expression in the Metaverse.
As an appointed expert for Interpol's Metaverse Expert Group (i-meg), Patel brings her knowledge and experience to the forefront of global discussions on this rapidly evolving field. Her insights have been featured on a wide range of media outlets, including BBC, DW, CNN, NHK, CNBC, British Vogue, Elle, and Good Morning America 3, among others.
Child Safeguarding & Child Protection Consultant, Poynting Consulting & Advisory and Australian Red Cross Greater Brisbane Area, Australia
I believe that child abuse and neglect in organisations is 100% preventable.
I work with organisations to reduce the risk that children will experience harm while in their care.
I work with child-serving and child-contact organisations to help them ensure they have the skills, tools, resources and culture to work in a way which mitigates the risk of harm to children and increases their ability to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of the children they have contact with.
For these organisations, the first step is the hardest - and that is to acknowledge that if your organisation works with children, then there is a risk the people you trust to care for those children may, either intentionally through targeted effort or unintentionally through a lack of skills and knowledge, cause harm to those children through abuse, neglect or exploitation.
I am the Principal Consultant at Poynting Consulting & Advisory with a demonstrated history of working with and for child-serving organisations in child protection and child safeguarding roles. I've worked in senior public service roles, in management and leadership roles in for-purpose not-for-profits in the child protection, disability, OSHC and early education sectors. I've coached and led some of the largest child-serving organisations in Australia in creating child-safe environments that safeguard the wellbeing and welfare of children through designing training packages, creating child-safe policy frameworks, consulting on environment design, engaging with children and through critical incident reviews.
I'm a passionate advocate for the idea that institutional abuse and neglect is something that is within the control of organisations to totally prevent - but only if being a child-safe organisation is truly part of your culture and a priority.
Kevin Lee is the CEO of Yuvaa, India’s first Gen Z driven youth media, impact and research platform, that creates meaningful content online and starts meaningful conversations offline. He has built and led campaigns with some of India’s largest for-profit and non-profit organisations alike on issues pertaining to young people. He has spearheaded campaigns with UNICEF, Dasra, Rohini Nilekani Philanthropies, Purpose and Dasra on one end, and Meta, Spotify, Tinder and Fastrack on the other end. He is also the Executive Producer of Dear Teenage Me, a Spotify Original podcast which has constantly been one of the most listened to podcasts in India. He has won multiple awards for his work across the media landscape, and most recently was inducted into the 30 under 30 class for e4M Impact and Social Samosa. Prior to joining Yuvaa, Kevin was a senior correspondent at CNBC-TV18.
Award winning CEO - Built the Metaverse Startup of the year and Web3 Advisor
Kapil Dhiman is an award winning CEO who built the Metaverse startup of the Year 2023. He is a Keynote speaker on global stages, Advisor to over 12 startups, and an Author. A sector agnostic business leader, he also created and ran a hip hop music label. Before the entrepreneur journey, Kapil spent a decade in the consulting business driving diversified verticals, and was the Web3 business leader for PwC India.
International Psychologist, Trauma Specialist BA Psych (India), MSc Psychoanalysis (UK), PhD International Psych (Distinction) (USA) Fourth Dimension Consultancy
Dr. Anjhula Mya Singh Bais is an international psychology trauma specialist, Founder and Director of Fourth Dimension Consultancy, and the Chair of the International Board of Amnesty International. Dr. Bais's focus is human rights and mental health through a feminist lens. She was a thought leader and strategist inspiring on psychology, leadership, and human rights on her Lite FM radio show Mind Matters which had a weekly listenership of 1 million.
Named a Fellow of the Apolitical Academy, Prestige Magazine's 40 Under 40, and bestowed the Global Citizen Psychologist Citation from the American Psychological Association, Bais is an alumni of Lady Shri Ram College, University College London, Columbia University, The Chicago School, a member of YPO and is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader.
With two decades in the international fashion industry as a model and named a super model by Vogue, Bais's prerequisite for appearing on covers is that staunch attention is paid to body positivity. She has received Savvy's people's choice award for being the role model women most believed in.
(Former) Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Prof. U. Vindhya, PhD was formerly with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad campus as Professor of Psychology and Deputy Director. She is the recipient of several awards and fellowships including the South Asian Visiting Scholarship (Oxford University); Fulbright Visiting Lecturership (USA); Visiting Professorships in Hungary and Sweden; and the Distinguished Publication Award (USA) for her co-edited book Handbook of International Feminisms: Perspectives on Psychology, Women, Culture and Rights (Springer, New York).
Her research interests are located in the interface of psychology and feminism and have focused on gender and mental health, violence against women, trafficking of women, feminist counselling, and the psychological dynamics of women's political activism.
She has led several research projects sponsored by the World Bank, Gates Foundation, Plan India, ICRW, UGC and the ICSSR, amongst others, and has published widely in national and international journals and edited volumes. She was the Project Director of the Sakhi One Stop Centres for gender-based violence, a project for which TISS Hyderabad is a knowledge partner with the Department of Women Development and Child Welfare, Govt of Telangana.
In addition to teaching and research, she has been involved in conducting training and capacity building programmes on gender sensitization, stress management and basic counselling skills for educational institutions, police and the paramilitary, industry and corporate organizations, media and publishing houses. She is an external member of Internal Committee in educational institutions, corporate, government, and non-governmental organizations.
(10 Years of the POSH Law - Journey So Far & Future)
Individual Lawyers, Psychologists, HR and other practitioners acting as consultants
EM’s or counsellors who assist with resolving harassment, discrimination and bullying related concerns