Need for substantive representation of women on boards: Maneka

 New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) There is a compelling need for substantive representation of women on the boards of companies rather than a token representation through family members, Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said here on Wednesday.

Gandhi also expressed concern that though the ministry of corporate affairs and SEBI have mandated that companies must have at least one woman on their boards and it was observed that this was often being done by appointing the wives or daughters of the promoters on the board.

Gandhi was inaugurating a conference on ‘Women at Workplace,’ organised by Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) on Wednesday.

“I have written to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs to figure out how we can have a substantive representation of women on the boards rather than a token representation through the family members,” she said.

She also stressed the need for the setting up of the internal committees to address sexual harassment at workplace.

“I receive a large number of complaints on a daily basis where organisations are seen to be failing in their duty under the Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013,” she said.

She further said though she took up the issue with the apex body, the response wasn’t encouraging.

“I had taken up the matter with the apex national chambers of commerce and industry asking them to sensitize their corporate members. However, the response from the chambers was not very encouraging,” she said.

She stressed that all organisations having 10 or more persons working with them including some women are required to constitute the internal complaints committee as well as provide sensitisation training to all the employee of the company.

“I would request all the chambers to take it up as a mission so that all the members start complying with the provision of the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013,” added Gandhi.

She also stressed upon for providing enabling environment for women to train them for various kinds of professions.

“We have revised STEP scheme and made it easier for NGOs engaged in training of women to access our assistance. The companies can contribute in this direction in a big way through their CSR initiatives. I will be happy to work with any company or groups of companies who come forward with concrete proposals for providing skill to women,” she pointed out.

She also sought a conducive atmosphere for women at workplace. “In order to help more and more women to participate in the workforce, it is critical that we provide encouraging and safe work environment to them,” she added.

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