‘Separate section for girl students on issues like harassment’

In a first, the state government has proposed a separate section for girls in schools and colleges to discuss sensitive issues like sexual harassment. It has also recommended three-month mandatory self-defence training for girls once a year at schools and colleges.

These are two of the many steps proposed in the education and research section of the draft of a new women's policy, which was was handed over to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan by Varsha Gaikwad, minister for women and child development, on International Women's Day on March 8. It also proposes several measures to encourage girls to complete education and participate in extra-curricular activities.

The panel that drafted the policy recommends starting a website to publish information on opportunities for women in education, scholarships, job opportunities, seat reservations, concessions and other schemes.

The panel has also recommended that for women from rural areas and those belonging to scheduled castes, a programme for overall development as per local needs should be made available.

"It is in the field of education and research that we can bring about major changes and enhance the status of women. Through this new women's policy, we aim at not only providing education to women, but also organise vocational training for them. At the same time, we want to ensure that girl students are safe at the educational institutes," said Gaikwad.

"We have proposed regular counselling and orientation programmes for girls and boys at the school level, which will help sensitise them. Schools and colleges must organise separate sections for girls to understand if they have experienced sexual harassment in or outside the institute, try and identify their issues and counsel them," said Gaikwad.

The draft policy has also recommended that universities and boards of studies should establish an independent committee to include gender-sensitivity curriculum. As per the draft, it will be mandatory to have gender sensitivity as a subject in all training programmes, pre-service training and orientation programmes.

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