Draft on National Policy for Women

21/5/2016 414 Social Issues | Gender issues | View Recent Current Affairs

  • Centre has come up with draft on national policy for women with the main aim of “re-scripting” women’s empowerment by following a “socially inclusive rights-based approach.”
  • The new policy will replace the 2001 National Policy for Empowering Women and reflects the social, economical and technological changes of the past 15 years
  • The policy is roughly based on the Pam Rajput Committee report set up by the MWCD in 2012 which submitted its recommendations last year, including a suggested national policy for women and an action plan to end violence against women.

Highlights of policy:

  • The broad objective of the policy is to create a conducive socio-cultural, economic and political environment to enable women enjoy de jure and de facto fundamental rights and realize their full potential.
  • The policy envisions a society in which, women attain their full potential and are able to participate as equal partners in all spheres of life. It also emphasises the role of an effective framework to enable the process of developing policies, programmes and practices which will ensure equal rights and opportunities for women.
  • The policy also describes emerging issues such as making cyber spaces safe place for women, redistribution of gender roles, for reducing unpaid care work, review of personal and customary laws in accordance with the Constitutional provisions, Review of criminalization of marital rape within the framework women’s human rights etc. relevant in the developmental paradigms.

PRIORITY AREAS

  • Health including food security and nutrition: Focus on recognizing women’s reproductive rights, shift of family planning focus also to males, addressing health issues in a life cycle continuum such as psychological and general well-being, health care challenges related to nutrition/ hygiene of adolescents, geriatric health care, expansion of health insurance schemes and addressing the intergenerational cycle of under-nutrition
  • Education: Improve access to pre-primary education, enrolment and retention of adolescent girls, implement innovative transportation models for better schooling outcomes, advocate gender champions and address disparities with regard to ICTs.
  • Economy: Raising visibility, engendering macro-economic policies and trade agreements, generate gender-disaggregated land ownership database, skill development and training for women, entrepreneurial development, review of labour laws and policies, equal employment opportunities with appropriate benefits related to maternity and child care services, address technological needs of women.
  • Governance and Decision Making: Increasing women’s participation in the political arena, administration, civil services and corporate boardrooms,
  • Violence Against Women: Address all forms of violence against women through a life cycle approach, Legislations affecting /relating to women will be reviewed/harmonized to enhance effectiveness, Improve Child Sex Ratio (CSR), strict implementation of advisories, guidelines, Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) and protocols, prevention of trafficking at source, transit and destination areas for effective monitoring of the networks.
  • Enabling Environment: Gender perspective in housing and infrastructure, ensuring safe drinking water and sanitation, gender parity in the mass media & sports, concerted efforts towards strengthening social security and support services for all women especially the vulnerable, marginalized, migrant and single women.
  • Environment and Climate Change: addressing gender concerns during distress migration and displacement in times of natural calamities due to climate change and environmental degradation. Promotion of environmental friendly, renewable, non–conventional energy, green energy sources for women in rural households

Operational strategies

Create an enabling environment through continued and additional initiatives:

  • Enabling safety and security of women – with initiatives such as One Stop Centres, Women Helpline, Mahila Police Volunteers, Reservation of women in police force, creating immediate response mechanism through panic buttons in mobiles, public and private transport, surveillance mechanisms in public places.
  • Creating eco-systems to encourage entrepreneurship amongst women – through platforms like Mahila E-Haat, dedicated theme based exhibitions, focussed skill training, mentoring through Women Entrepreneurship Council, availability of easy & affordable credit and financial inclusion.
  • Training and capacity building of all stakeholders including youth through Gender Champion initiative, frontline workers, women sarpanches and all officials dealing with policy and delivery systems impacting women.
  • Facilitating women in workplace – through gender friendly work place, flexi timings, increased maternity leave, provision of child care / creches at workplace, life cycle health care facilities

Analysis:

  • Since 2001, when the last National Policy for Empowerment of Women was formulated, the concept of women empowerment has seen changes, from being recipients of welfare benefits to the need to engage them in the development process, welfare with a heavy dose of rights. This draft policy has tried to address this shift. It will define the government’s action on women in the next 15-20 years.
  • The policy aims to create sustainable socio-economic, political empowerment of women to claim their rights and entitlements, control over resources and formulation of strategic choices in realisation of the principles of gender equality and justice.
  • This is a progressive document in tune with the times but the challenge will be to bridge the gap between policy and implementation. There is considerable emphasis on the conditions of single women, migrants and the elderly in the draft document.
  • One of the blatant realities of India today is that the lives of a large number of women continue to be governed by patriarchal structures rather than the law of the land. Their freedom to — study, love, marry, work, give birth, divorce, re-marry, or resist abuse — are governed by family and social mores. The policy pins its hope on gender sensitisation to wean away families from these patriarchal moorings.
  • However, the policy does not offer many insights into future challenges and runs the risk of being outdated even before its prescribed road map for the next 15 or 20 years. Those challenges characterised as “emerging issues” in the policy document like cyber crime
  • The policy also notes that cyber crime and harassment of women through mobile phones and social media is on the rise but the regulatory framework has not kept pace with the technological changes. But ever since Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act was scrapped, the communications and IT ministry has failed to combat the growing menace of online trolling, which has viciously targeted women.
  • All measures by government are aimed only towards young women. There is no protection whatsoever for old women. The government must create legislation for older women.

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