A majority of women employed with the state feel that the government is far more transparent as an employer than private firms and the corporate world.
But nearly all of them said the government has failed to set a precedent by taking stringent action against sexual harassment complaints or by taking the initiative to gender-sensitise its employees.
“The government is an open employer and women staffers have recourse to a system - well-established appraisal norms, service protocols - when they face harassment.
"To that extent, compared to private companies, there is a lesser chance of being threatened of dismissal or transfer for protesting against sexual advances or innuendos,” said Chandra Iyengar, former additional chief secretary.
However, this does not mean that women government employees don’t face harassment or gender bias, Iyengar admitted.
“There is a deep-rooted gender bias in several government offices and even the police. There haven’t been enough initiatives to organise mass gender equality workshops,” said a senior official, requesting anonymity.
The government has set up sexual harassment committees in every department, but many are defunct or remain on paper. Officials said there are not enough senior women employees to head these committees.
“I made a sexual harassment complaint against a senior male colleague and eventually he was transferred. So there is some justice. But ideally, stringent action such as suspension should be taken,” said a Class II employee, on condition of anonymity.