Gender Equity and Women's Empowerment

The Tibet Fund collaborates with numerous partners to tackle key issues related to safeguarding women and girls against sexual exploitation and gender-based violence, as well as establishing preventive measures and effective recourse mechanisms. We facilitate various initiatives, including gender sensitization workshops, training programs to empower women’s leadership, promotion of menstrual health and hygiene, and capacity building for staff members of partner organisations and grassroots leaders.

Women’s Empowerment Desk and Tibetan Women’s Helpline

The Tibet Fund supports the programs of CTA’s Women Empowerment Desk (WED) to institutionalize gender-based violence (GBV) prevention and response mechanisms at Tibetan institutions and organizations, increase GBV protection, and increase gender awareness throughout Tibetan settlements, schools, and institutions. The WED and the Tibetan Women’s Association collaborate to operate a Tibetan Women’s Helpline (TWH) which receives calls from victims seeking guidance and information on domestic violence, intimate partner violence, workplace and online sexual harassment, police intervention, legal aid, and shelter. Sustenance funds are provided to GBV survivors to meet their immediate medical and financial and legal needs, and provision is made for a safe space. The team works closely with local offices and law enforcement agencies and conducts settlement awareness drives and social media outreach to help ensure helpline access for the most marginalized women in the community.

GBV Prevention and Response

Gender awareness and sensitization to Gender Based Violence (GBV) is institutionalized with the setting up of GBV committees in many of the Tibetan settlements, schools, and institutions. Additionally, Internal Complaint (IC) committees are established at many workplaces, including the CTA. IC committee workshops provide a clear understanding of GBV concepts and principles, related complaint procedures, case management practices, and the roles/responsibilities of GBV and IC committee members. GBV and IC committees are established in schools and settlements that receive training on India’s POCSO Act, roles, and responsibilities of GBV Committee members, key principles of the CTA’s GBV guidelines, workplace safety, concepts of power and patriarchy, types of sexual harassment at the workplace, and redressal mechanisms. The WED also conducts orientations on CTA’s GBV guidelines and gender sensitization workshops in settlements, colleges and schools focusing on topics such as differences between sex and gender, gender stereotypes and biases, gender socialization, different forms of GBV, consent, and GOI legislation.

Gender Action Learning

Gender Action Learning (GAL) is an intensive 18-month program consisting of seminars, workshops, assignments, assessments, and feedback sessions. The WED conducts workshops for CTA officials on strategies for gender mainstreaming, methods to develop and introduce a gender lens into programs, and ways to establish monitoring and evaluation mechanisms with a gender focus. A results framework analytic tool demonstrates a movement from gender-blind to gender-neutral, gender-aware and gender-specific transformative policies and interventions. The training taught them to understand the various approaches to integrating gender awareness into their activities. Following extensive meetings with senior CTA officials, 15 gender indicators were developed and finalized for the Departments of Finance, Home, Education, Health, and Religion and Culture.

GBV Activities in Schools and Settlements

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and the Women’s Empowerment Desk (WED) continue to implement Gender Based Violence/Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA) activities in India in schools and settlements.

Review meetings with Gender Focal Persons (GFP), POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses) committee members, student representatives, school counsellors, and school administration are conducted at regular intervals. Additionally, a safety audit is conducted with grade 8 to 12 students to identify security risks related to gender-based violence within the school environment, including safety walks and vulnerability mapping exercises.

In the Tibetan settlements, mapping exercises involve the settlement officer, camp leaders, and settlement women representatives who are introduced to the concept of the GBV by WED and PSEA activities are conducted in the settlements and schools.

Barefoot Counsellors

Barefoot Counselors (BCs) in Tibetan settlements and schools provide individual and couples counseling through door-to-door visits on issues including family relationships, parenting, mental health, financial concerns, domestic violence, alcohol/substance abuse, health, marital relationship, debt issues, parenting concerns, relationship issues, bereavement support, issues with friends, depression, and anxiety.

There is a total of 14 GFPs in five schools: two in North and three in South India and 28 BCs in two settlements in Bylakuppe. The BCs also receive training on positive parenting, understanding children’s needs, the implication of over-met and under-met needs, and how to meet children’s needs with a healthy balance.

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