Woman’s day was first observed in the early 1900’s in Europe. It was a culmination of various women’s movements against gender bias at work, at home and in society in general. Women were fighting for their basic rights to live with dignity as human beings. Fast forward to 2020 and we realize so much has changed for women and also for the world around them. Those initial struggles and sacrifices of thousands of unknown women lead to a slow movement which has empowered women today to work in offices, make decisions for them, vote, and have their own political and financial opinions. Each voice raised against gender bias and for gender equality has lead to better opportunities for women in all spheres of life. Have we achieved the optimal state of a well balanced society? Probably not. But we definitely cannot deny that things have changed for women in many good ways. We stand on the crushed dreams and crushed voices of our female foremothers. We owe them the freedom we women of today enjoy and take for granted. So we have no option but to keep working for a better, more equal world in small ways.
In 2013, the Indian government passed a law widely known as #POSH, prevention of sexual harassment at workplace 2013. This law was brought into effect after a long struggle by various women and associated organizations to protect the dignity and provide a sense of security to women working in organized and non organized sector against sexual harassment. The story of Bhavari devi was one crucial and important point in support of bring such a law in action. With this law the government had hoped to empower working women by keeping in check sexual harassment issues expediting the judicial process with the help of the organizations they were working for. All in all this was a great step to making work environment more secure and safe.
Team #Opash realized the potential of this law and the impact it would create in workplaces but we also noticed that there was a lot of misconception and fear about it in the general population. We took up the task to take up training’s to generate awareness and understanding about the law and its consequences. This brought even more organizations to our door-steps, which were equally clueless regarding the implementation of this law and its effect on the workers and workspaces. This led us to take up trainings for employees in various establishments, internal committee members as well as regular trainings for women in unorganized sector coming from poorer backgrounds. Opash has worked for POSH compliances in renowned companies like Schmersal, JSW India, ITyx, Fairfield Atlas, Pune Metagraph, Quality Circle of India, NHRD, AppZen, Levare Consultants and many more. After training so many entities we realized the need for spreading awareness about this law even further. This led us to organizing the first #OPASH enabled #POSH awareness event for Women’s day 2019 for the benefit of women, who are working in different sectors like domestic workers, transport, nursing, social work, household etc. in different parts of Pune (Swargate, Shivaji Nagar, Pimpri-Chinchwad, etc.). Although the scope of these workshops was aimed at creating awareness about the law in working women, the session was also extended to housewives at various forums with the hope that the knowledge will be cascaded to the working women in their network. The workshops were conducted in association with Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC), Sakal Media Group, and Jnana Prabhodini in different areas of Pune like Swargate, Shivajinagar, Ramabai Ambedkar Vasahat and PCMC. Around 700 women were benefitted from the awareness drive.
After working closely with the employees and working women from organized and unorganized sector we started receiving many queries from women requesting help in guiding them about the procedures for this law. Many women shared their woes with us. Many told us stories of horrors they had been through. Many were in a dilemma about whether a particular act against them by a fellow employee constituted as sexual harassment or not. The more people we met the more we realized the need for a dedicated entity which could guide all these women. This gave birth to the idea of a call center dedicated to providing advice about POSH and its procedures. After many a brain storming sessions regarding how this could be implemented and sustained without a fee to the caller for services we were offering we finally decided to launch Tarini helpline on Women’s day 2020.
Opash Socio-Commercials Pvt. Ltd. organized a program to launch Tarini – helpline for POSH “Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplaces” on 8th March 2020 on the occasion of women’s day. Dr. Jayshree Katare( Resident Deputy Collector, Pune), Girija Oak Godbole( Actress) , Adv. Rama Sarode, (Legal Consultant POSH) and Sadhana Khati (Chairperson, Local Committee, Pune) presided as the chief guests of the function held at Patrakar Bhavan, Auditorium, Navi Peth, Pune. These women who are prominent personalities in their own sectors guided the audience on different topics regarding women and their empowerment through POSH. They appreciated the initiative of Tarini that Opash has taken up and stressed on the need of why this was needed and how this helpline will be beneficial to the society.
The #Tarini helpline number- 70 30 43 43 43 is for everyone seeking assistance or guidance regarding the POSH Act 2013. This number is operational as of 9th march 2020, between 10.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Saturday and is currently supported in three languages Hindi, Marathi and English. The team has been trained to provide information to the caller about all POSH related queries. The service is completely free of cost and all conversations are confidential. The caller does not need to reveal his name or identity in any way to get the information. The team is also equipped to connect the caller to domain experts if the need arises. The helpline will be monitored for call traffic on the basis of which we intend to extend it to a 24*7 helpline supporting additional languages.
To those reading this blog… we have done our bit by taking this up. Please do your bit by sharing this number with as many people as possible. We never know who may need it and who may truly benefit from it. We at Opash always endeavor to make women’s day more meaningful. We welcome well thoughtful and realistic inputs. So feel free to connect.