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Home > Global Health Matters Jan/Feb 2022 > Grantees share approaches to reduce sexual harassment Print

Grantees share approaches to reduce sexual harassment

January/ February 2022 | Volume 21 Number 1

A person in a white hooded sweatshirt with the phrase 'Sexual Harassment Zero Tolerance at IDI' Fogarty provided supplemental funding for grantees to develop or strengthen sexual harassment policies and practices.

Fogarty recently convened the recipients of awards designed to help low- and middle-income country (LMIC) scientists develop or strengthen policies and procedures to reduce sexual harassment at their institutions. Participants shared lessons learned and different approaches used to address the common problem. One-year funding was provided to 10 LMIC recipients, supported by the
NIH Office of AIDS Research.

“I am incredibly impressed by what this program has accomplished,” observed Fogarty Director Dr. Roger I. Glass. “The measures you are putting into place will create a safe environment for science, help women advance into leadership positions and ensure we don’t lose some of the best and brightest minds in science.”

Many of the LMIC grantee institutions had existing sexual harassment policies but a number of participants reported that the policies were not widely promoted nor were there clear procedures for reporting and investigation. Speakers shared how their institutions approached policy development, staff training and publicity for their efforts. A number conducted surveys to help inform the process. For example, the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) at Makerere University in Uganda found in a baseline survey that only 32% of their community said they were aware of IDI’s sexual harassment policy. After IDI’s program of training and promotion, a second poll found about 90% were familiar with the policy, said Dr. Barbara Castelnuovo. She also reported respondents said their likelihood of reporting sexual harassment incidents went from 8% initially to nearly 80% after the program’s completion. Promotional efforts included “zero tolerance” sweatshirts.

At the University of Lagos (UL) in Nigeria, the supplement helped to create awareness of sexual harassment guidelines and establish the Equity and Women’s Center. The funding catalyzed efforts across the three UL campuses and serves as a model for regional universities, said Dr. Folasade Ogunsola. Students were included in the project and were responsible for developing slogans as part of the promotional campaign, such as “The fight is ours! The struggle is ours!” and “Don’t be ashamed of your story…it will help inspire others.”

The supplemental funding program is one way NIH and Fogarty are working to ensure grantees and their institutions—wherever in the world they are located—meet the agency’s requirements for providing a workplace that is free from sexual harassment, bullying and racial discrimination. Since 2018, NIH has investigated 215 individuals and removed 75 principal investigators, due to instances of sexual harassment or other misconduct. Issues can be reported through the anti-harassment hotline at 1-833-224-3829 or via the Civil Intake Form on the NIH website.

Anti-Sexual Harrassment Resources from Grantees

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