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Gender champions: Colleges, universities attempt baby steps towards gender parity

At colleges like Fergusson College and Modern College, Shivaji Nagar, the machines had been installed even before the circular was sent to them.

Written by Alifiya Khan | Pune | Updated: March 8, 2016 4:06:51 am
Women’s day, international Women’s day, Women’s day special, pune Women’s day special, pune sex ratio, gender inqequality, pune news The sanitary napkin vending machine at Baburao Gholap college will be inaugurated on Women’s Day

ALTHOUGH THERE are tall promises made with regard to women-friendly initiatives at various sectors, the journey towards gender equality seems to be making little headway.

Take for instance, the colleges in Pune. It is now that the colleges have sensitised itself to the issues and needs of women, after showing total apathy towards women-friendly schemes initiated by the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the State Higher Education Department.

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While the State Higher Education Department has for the last three months been reminding colleges to install sanitary napkin vending machines on the campus, the UGC had in August 2015 asked all universities and colleges to appoint a ‘Gender Champion’, a student representative who will be instrumental in creating an environment that fosters gender parity.

According to joint director of higher education Dr Vijay Narkhede—who has repeatedly been asking colleges to install sanitary napkins vending and disposal machines—after nearly three months, efforts have begun to pay off. “Some colleges have sent us their positive feedback but if you ask me what is the response, then it is not enough.” When Newsline asked college principals, it was found that while some had installed the machines, others claimed to have initiated the process but with no concrete implementation in sight.

At colleges like Fergusson College and Modern College, Shivaji Nagar, the machines had been installed even before the circular was sent to them. At Baburao Gholap College, principal Manohar Chaskar said the machines are a Women’s Day gift to students. However, many city colleges and even Savitribai Phule Pune University (SPPU) hasn’t yet installed the machines.

“We have already identified four spots in the varsity where machines will be installed but since it is related to procurement, we have to get approval from various committees,” said Wasudeo Gade, vice-chancellor, SPPU.

Shubhada Gholap, principal of Yashwantrao Chavan Law College, said currently some construction work is on and the vending machines would be taken up after it is over. “We have made a few inquiries and after the painting work ends, we will look into it.”

Meanwhile, even if baby steps have been taken to ensure menstrual hygiene, as far as gender parity is concerned, most colleges seem to have no clue about it.

Sanjay Kumar Dalvi, director of students’ welfare board, SPPU, said that he recalled sending notification to colleges but hadn’t followed it up yet. Even if the UGC instructed varsities and colleges to appoint gender champions on ‘urgent basis’ in August last year, most college principals feigned ignorance on the matter.

“I don’t know if any such circular was issued, I don’t recall getting it from the varsity,” said Shrikant Gupta, principal of Garware College. Dr R G Pardeshi, principal of Fergusson College, said “We already have an informal group of students who work with teachers to organise gender sensitisation workshops.”

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