The University Grants Commission (UGC) has set up a panel of top academics to review the safety of women in Indian universities, besides preparing a blueprint to make the country’s campuses safer and more gender sensitive.
Set up on Tuesday by UGC chairman Professor Ved Prakash, the panel — headed by Lady Shriram College principal Meenakshi Gopinath — will also suggest ways to incorporate gender education into the curriculum across varsity courses.
The move comes a week after the UGC, India’s apex higher education regulator, asked varsities to take steps to beef up security for women on the campus, and is the direct fallout of the brutal rape and murder of a 23-year-old Delhi woman on December 16.
“We want our universities to be safe for women, but equally, we believe that universities – as centres of learning – should show the way in making it safe for our girls and women to learn and work,” Prakash told HT.
The panel has a six-point mandate, and a two-month deadline to submit its recommendations. It will evaluate current security arrangements at varsities for women and girls, suggest a plan to bolster them, and review as well as propose ways to improve gender-related grievance redressal mechanisms.
Besides this, it will also “suggest academic measures and action programmes” aimed at making varsities contribute towards making Indian society more gender-sensitive, and propose a plan to integrate women’s concerns with academic courses.
The UGC has asked the panel to recommend a mechanism to incorporate gender sensitivity of applicants as an “essential eligibility criterion in the future recruitment of university staff”.
Apart from Gopinath, the panel has academicians Mary John, Yogendra Yadav, Uma Chakravarty, Gopal Guru, Wasbir Hussain, Sanjay Srivastava, Susie Tharu, Kulwinder Kaur, and UGC deputy secretary Archana Thakur as its members.