The Martha Farrell Foundation in collaboration with Women Empowerment Desk (WED) of Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) conducted a four-day long training on the Prevention of Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh. This workshop was part of a partnership between MFF and CTA to address the issue of the Prevention of Gender-Based Violence and Sexual Abuse in settlements and schools.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) was established to represent the people of the entire Tibet Autonomous Region. The CTA is responsible for the welfare of the Tibetan people living in exile in India, who number around 100,000. It runs schools, health services, cultural activities, and economic development projects for the Tibetan community. It recognizes the importance of gender equality and the empowerment of women for the all-round development of the Tibetan community.
As part of the initiative, MFF formed 12 Internal Committees within CTA and conducted an orientation workshop with its members. The workshop focused on demystifying the new Tibetan guidelines on Sex and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) keeping in mind the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013 and understanding the roles and responsibilities of an Internal Committee members in enabling conducive workplaces. It also discussed the concepts of boundaries, consent and appropriate and inappropriate behavior in the workplace.
The participants from the workshop learned that some of the behavior which has been normalized under the cover of Culture is actually inappropriate and comes under sexual harassment. This behavior is a learned behavior that does not let us question our own culture. Therefore, our awareness generating session is just the first step towards Unlearning these inappropriate behaviors. Therefore, there is a need to institutionalize it in different structures and curriculum of an organization.
“I think it’s very important for us as the Tibetan Community to be aware of the existing law that prevails in this country. Having these conversations helps in breaking the silence about taboos, we tend to hesitate to talk about sex, and harassment, etc, so making this conversation normal part of our life would only be able to make things work where we will think about it (rationally) and understand these things instead of just assuming. Moreover, this awareness would gradually stop the harassment that is invisible to most. These will not only create a safe work environment but would also help in enhancing the performance of the employee in their work and hence helping the organization and community at large.”
- Kyi, Women Empowerment Desk (WED)