Our society, being quintessentially that of a developing country, is not devoid of evils. If we are to come out of it, we ought to accept the fact that we need a vital, imaginative reconstruction. But it is not possible to execute a creative rebuilding unless there are conditions which facilitate it. As of now, we are facing the alarming growth in the rate of incidents of workplace harassment. We must create an environment where the overhauling of our perceptions and opinions will take place. But recently, an indispensable step towards this was taken up by J&K Bank.
They have opened a branch, in Jawaharnagar, exclusively for women, which would ensure an inflow of women customers. Further, the positions of the staffers and the security will be occupied exclusively by women. The women’s branch, which lies in the heart of the city, will not only eliminate the risks and vulnerabilities of workplace harassment, but it will also facilitate an environment which is congenial to eliminate the hesitation of the women who wanted to work but didn’t feel safe. Most of the times it is the parents who are insecure about the security of their daughters. Earlier, J&K bank had started an exclusive counter for women, but this is the first time in the Valley that this kinds of an official workspace are being set up.
According to a survey conducted by Economic Times, “Despite substantial rise in the number of women joining workforce in India, gender parity continues to suffer, especially at senior positions, as 16 per cent of organisations have no women on board level.” The report further says, “Some of the major challenges that hinder the progress of diversity and inclusion initiatives include, unconscious bias… fewer women in leadership roles.” Therefore such an initiative is the need of the hour. It is not only bias that prevents women from working. They are also hesitant about working because they face one or more forms of harassment in workplaces.
“Indeed we can see in the annals of history that women have been subjugated to [the] household, not allowed to vote or, [till] recently in some countries, drive. And such initiative taken by J&K bank is like filling the void of inevitable necessity,’’ says Syed Tariq, a private advocate based in Srinagar. He added, “It is neither being mean to men, nor granting women any special it is just because, as we see from the past, owing to the subjugation, women are way behind the starting line, and therefore such an initiative is to make the race equal.”
This initiative is for empowering the women, but it is also about giving them the secure space they’ve always needed. “It is wonderful to see that corporates like J&K Bank are taking up such initiatives. We have to face a lot of things every day – in buses, cafes, offices, and banks and even online. So by providing such space is a good thing,” says Afreen, an international martial artist. “Jawahar Nagar is the best location for this because it is the centre of the city, anybody living in the peripheries can easily reach the branch without much headache.” She added.
The initiative taken up by J&K Bank will, to a large extent, attenuate the feelings of insecurity that we as a society hone in our minds regarding the safety of women.