Marching Towards Gender Equality in Research and Academics: Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions Pilot in India
The Indian government is striving for gender equality at different levels across different sectors. This includes science and technology establishments like research and higher academic institutions. Recently, India's Department of Science & Technology (DST) has launched a unique program, Gender Advancement for Transforming Institutions (GATI). A total of 30 research and academic institutions have been selected for participation in the GATI pilot. My institute is among them. Looking at its objectives and methodology, I am confident that GATI is going to bring a much-needed transformation in gender advancement to Indian institutions!
Project GATI aims to nudge institutions of higher education and research towards supporting diversity, inclusion and the full spectrum of demographic talent for women’s own success and progression. It aspires to create an enabling environment for equal participation of women in science, technology, engineering, medicine and mathematics (STEMM) disciplines at all levels. It is expected to address deep-rooted problems, like lack of equal opportunities and biases. GATI aims to bring about institutional reforms to attract, recruit, retain and promote women into scientific laboratories and institutions of higher education. Under GATI, a charter for gender equality in STEMM for India will be developed to bring transformation in policies to empower women. It is not limited to measures for increasing retention and recruitment of women, but envisages a fresh perspective on the progression of women throughout their professional journey.
The GATI model draws inspiration from the Athena Swan gender equality charter and accreditation framework, established by Advance HE (in the United Kingdom) in 2005. The Athena Swan Charter is a framework which is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research. It encourages and recognizes commitment to advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM). The charter addresses gender equality more broadly, and not just barriers to progression that affect women. A growing number of universities, science departments and research institutes in the United Kingdom (U.K.) have voluntarily joined the charter and have been recognized for their accomplishments. Recognizing the framework’s evidence-based approach to analysis, action and demonstrable impact, several countries have been inspired to join the Athena Swan collaborative international network and launch similar initiatives. With the launch of GATI, India joins the list.
GATI is being undertaken by DST in partnership with the British Council. GATI is an innovative overarching pilot project supported by India's DST. It ushers a new intervention program for gender equality in science and technology in India. Work will be carried out in mission mode at the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), in close cooperation with DST’s Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement through Nurturing (KIRAN) scheme and the British Council.
An important feature of GATI is that it will not just assess, accredit and recognize institutions through certifications and awards. It will also engage, mentor, partner and support institutions as they work towards reaching the global best practices on gender equality. To this end, the British Council will facilitate collaboration with Advance HE as well as the peer network of Athena Swan-accredited institutions in the U.K.
Empowered women make their own life choices about family, finances, farming and much more. Enhancing women’s empowerment, therefore, is among the global goals guiding international development efforts toward 2030, and is the stated goal of innumerable development projects. To acquaint myself on gender equality at academic and research institutions, I browsed some insightful documents recently. In particular, I am inspired by the publication, "Promoting gender equality in academia and research institutions: Main findings," published by the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE). EIGE contributes to and strengthen the promotion of gender equality, including gender mainstreaming in all European Union (EU) policies and the resulting national policies. It fights against discrimination based on sex, as well as to raise EU citizens’ awareness of gender equality. The CGIAR Gender platform also inspires and motivates me greatly, since it regularly publishes and shares documents on gender — evidence, methods and alliances. Such global initiatives and their outcomes could be useful in effectively implementing the programs like GATI.
"Gender equality and women’s empowerment have the power to bring about significant progress, both on food systems transformation and the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals." — Thanawat Tiensin, chair of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS) at private sector mechanism high-level dialogue on gender, 13 May 2021.
As a nodal officer, I am excited and looking forward to implementing the GATI pilot at my institute!