Guwahati, December 10: A regional meeting on 'Engendering Workplaces: Developing Solution Based Support Network' was organised by Banglanatak. Com Contact Base in collaboration with Department of Women's Studies, Gauhati University and support of Assam Startup in Assam Startup, The Nest, Guwahati recently. Initiated by US Consulate of Kolkata, the meeting aimed at identifying areas of action and role of stakeholders to create solution-based support networks and a gender enabling environment. 21 stakeholders from various fields and organisations participated in the meeting and shared their experiences, ideas and insights on engendering workplaces in their respective fields.
The meeting was facilitated by the team from by Banglanatak. Com Contact Base led by Ananya Bhattacharya, representatives from Department of Women Studies, Gauhati University and Startup. In addition, Mr. Adrian Patt, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Consulate General Kolkata also attended the program virtually and spoke about the enabling participation of women in the workforce and decision making in their economic life. COO of IIM Calcutta Innovation Park for Assam Startup, Pranjal Konwar addressed the gathering and deliberated on the participation of women entrepreneurs in the Assam Startup initiative and the support provided by the latter.
Prof. Polly Vauquline, Head of the Department of Women’s Studies of Gauhati University shared the findings and recommendations of the Position paper on Engendering Workspaces. The position paper is part of a joint study conducted by the Department of Women's Studies, Gauhati University, experts from Calcutta University and Banglanatak.com. The study was conducted in June 2021 and revealed that women leave their careers in various stages of their life for various socio-cultural factors both at the home-front and workplace.
Shri Bivas Modi, Director of the Social Welfare Department, Assam spoke about the efforts taken up by the Social Welfare Department to address the challenges in women’s participation in workplaces of Assam. He believed that if more men were to participate in forums on women's issues, it would have a positive impact and hoped that men and women working together would bring greater positive changes.
Some of the stakeholders who participated in the meeting were Dr. Alolika Sinha, a conservation biologist working with Aaranyak, Smt. Atreyee B Thekedath, Founder & CEO of Web.Com (India) Pvt. Ltd, Smt. Mayurakshi Dutta, Executive Director of Down Town Hospital Ltd, Dr. Bijaylakhmi Goswami, the co-founder of Agrithink Services incubated by Assam startup, Smt. Daydeep Chetia the co-founder of Let's Learn Together, Shri Debasish Nath, Programme Director of SeSTA, Smt Ankita Saikia from MIND India, Smt. Mary L. Songate the General Secretary at Cod Nerc, an NGO based in Mizoram, Smt. Nirjumoni Dutta Bharali the Director for programs at ICCo, a development organization in Assam, Shri Prithviraj Nath the Founder Director at BRIDGE, Smt. Rosanna Lyngdoh, Board Director of Impulse NGO Network, Smt. Rubee Das, consulting editor at The Janambhumi Group, Shri Sabyasachi Dutta, founder Director of the Asian Confluence, India East Asia, Dr Sriparna B Baruah, Director i/c , IIE, Guwahati, Dr. S.Thaninleima, Art Director of Khenjonglang, Smt. Suruchi Agarwal the founder member of FICCI Ladies Organization (FLO) Northeast and Smt. Viboli Z Ayemi a Livelihood and Sustainable Project Coordinator, Indigenous Cultural Society.
The stakeholders emphasised on implementation of childcare leave policy and crèche facilities in all sectors. They also suggested ensuring the safety of adolescent daughters of female employees particularly in those sectors where work-from-home facilities cannot be availed. This matters because girls of this age group are not supported by crèche facilities in workplaces. It was also suggested to look into the matter of inclusion of the parents of married women employees under the Employees' State Insurance Corporation (ESIC).
One of the stakeholders suggested creating 100 per cent all ‘women-owned’ industries in North East. In this regard, it was also suggested to create a matrix on the concept of ‘Women led’ industries. It was also proposed to engender agricultural technology by creating women-friendly machines and supporting agricultural landholding among women.
Creating awareness among women entrepreneurs on access and understanding of financial matters and increasing market accessibility, and creating a digital aggregator platform driven by women were also suggested. In the media and entertainment sector, stakeholders suggested gender sensitisation of media houses at large and journalist in particular. Changing the stereotypical mindset of women in choosing their careers in various fields was also proposed.
The program ended with stakeholders sharing their views in developing women's leadership at workplaces and the future initiatives that can be taken up.