The WCD Minister appealed to private and public airlines employees to protect and preserve the self-respect of their women colleagues at all times.
During a review of the progress of sexual harassment cases in Air India and Air India Express, Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, emphasised how important it was for all employees of public and private airlines to remain sensitive towards the dignity of women colleagues.
The meeting, which was held in the capital, was attended by officials from the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), as well as the ministries of Civil Aviation and Women and Child Development (WCD).
According to Pradeep Singh Kharola, CMD, Air India, there are 12 ongoing cases before various internal complaints committees (ICCs) at present. Many cases related to private airlines were escalated by the WCD Ministry to the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Following a study of the cases and related developments made by the ICCs, Gandhi drew everyone’s attention to the fact that several women staff try to use the excuse of sexual harassment to file complaints that actually pertain to administrative issues. She advised the ICCs to attend to and resolve such cases without delay, so that the concerned women, are able to take a proper legal course, if required, to get their grievances sorted out. This will also allow the ICCs to concentrate on the actual cases of harassment.
The Minister reiterated that the ICCs should make sure that the aggrieved women are provided immediate relief, if need be, using the available measures as per the standards laid down by the DoPT, in cases pertaining to sexual harassment.
Commenting on the steady expansion of the aviation sector, Gandhi highlighted the fact that the workforce had not only become more “inclusive” but also “accessible to the middle class” now. Unlike the 1970s and 1980s, today, the perception of the sector as being exclusively for the upper class has also altered. With the changing nature of the workforce and passengers, it is essential that the male staff of this sector, the pilots in particular, are more sensitive, when it comes to the way their women co-workers are perceived and treated.
The Minister appealed to the CMD, Air India to inform all the male staff and make them aware of the significance of treating women colleagues with respect; making them feel secure and protected, and in no way threatened. She expressed a desire for the Civil Aviation Ministry to issue proper directives to the private airlines in this respect.