Late Dr. Martha Farrell has been honoured with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the 6th Indian Social Work Congress in New Delhi. Dr. Farrell is being recognized for her lifelong work towards gender equality, women’s empowerment and prevention of sexual harassment at workplace. She was among 14 people killed in a terrorist attack on a guest house in Kabul, Afghanistan on May 13, 2015. Dr. Farrell had been leading a gender training workshop with the Aga Khan Foundation in Kabul at the time of the attack.
Suheil Tandon, Martha’s son along with the team of Martha Farrell Foundation received the award.Martha began her career in 1981 as a literacy worker at Ankur, an NGO working for women’s literacy and empowerment in Delhi. In 1991, she co-founded Creative Learning for Change, an NGO consisting of development professionals involved in research, training and documentation of learning materials for students, teachers and facilitators in non-formal settings.Martha joined PRIA in 1996 and then later as Director of PRIA’s program on Gender Mainstreaming in Institutions, she trained thousands of grassroots women leaders and professionals from different walks of life on issues related to citizen engagement in local governance, gender mainstreaming and sexual harassment. From 2005 onwards, she led PRIA’s work on distance education, founding and developing PRIA International Academy, the academic wing of the organization. She also taught part-time at the University of Victoria and Royal Roads University in Canada.Martha’s crusade for gender mainstreaming in organization began in 1998 when the Vishakha Guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplaces were formulated by the Supreme Court of India. Martha championed the focus of making gender mainstreaming an integral part of all organizations – business, government and civil society.
She undertook pioneering work on sexual harassment in the workplace in India, completing her PhD on the subject from Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi. In 2014, she published the first Indian book on the subject, “Engendering the Workplace: Gender Discrimination and Prevention of Sexual Harassment in Organizations”.
This book is an important part of her work in PRIA, and a milestone for those wishing to pursue further work on the issue of sexual harassment at the workplace.Martha was highly pragmatic in her approach, and believed that for gender equality to be achieved, it must be observed and practiced by everyone in their daily life, starting among family, friends and at the workplace.
It was her conviction that the attitude and behaviour of men and boys must change if gender equality is to be secured over the long-term. She believed that learning is empowering, and that creating spaces for this learning to occur is an important mechanism for gender mainstreaming.Martha’s passion and commitment lives on through the Martha Farrell Foundation, which supports targeted and practical interventions in areas relevant to Martha’s work. This includes gender mainstreaming, gender equality, preventing sexual harassment and violence against women.