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Women and men in India enjoy de jure equality. Article 14 of the Constitution of India guarantees equal rights and opportunities to men and women in political, economic and social spheres, Article 42 directs the State to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions for work and maternity itself and Article 51 (A) imposes upon every citizen, a fundamental duty to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women. However this de jure equality has not yet materialised into a de facto equality, despite the efforts made in the Five Year Plans. The First Five Year Plan sought to “promote the welfare of women” by helping them to play their legitimate role in the family and the community but emphasised that the major burden of organising activities for the benefit of the female population had to be borne by the private agencies. Five Year Plans continued to reflect the same welfare approach to women’s interests though they accorded priority to education for both, men and women and launched measures to improve maternal and child health services and supplementary nutrition for children as well as expectant and nursing mothers. It was the Sixth Five Year Plan in which the focus on women’s interests shifted from ‘welfare’ and ‘development’. Planners and policy makers began to recognize women not only as partners but also as stake-holders in the development of the country. The Seventh Five Year Plan saw developmental programmes which aimed at raising the economic and social status of women and at ensuring that they get the benefits of national development. This is when ‘beneficiary oriented programmes’ extending direct benefits to women in different developmental sectors began. There was a stress upon the generation of both skilled and unskilled employment through formal and non-formal education and vocational training. The Eight Five Year Plan had a Human Development focus. It tried to ensure that the benefits of development do not bypass women and it implemented special programmes for women to complement the general development programmes and to
Mahila Samridhi Yojana (1993). The 1 st and the foremost priority should be given to the education of women. Fundamental rights. The Indian Government has passed various legislations to safeguard Constitutional rights to women. various welfare measures have been taken up by the Government from time to time empowers the women. as the change can not be brought out easily. The struggle has to be carried on within caste. the support to Training for – Employment Programme (1987). Apart from these. The Rastriya Mahila Kosh (1992-93). It requires the attitudinal change of the husband. On the 12th July. class. race. Indira Mahila Yojana (1995). equal Remuneration Act (1976). health and employment.e. 2001 the Mahila Samridhi Yojana and Indira Mahila Yojana have been merged into the integrated self-help group programme i. Immoral Trafficking (Prevention ) Act(1986) and finally Pre-natal Diagnostic Technique (Regulation and Prevention of Measure) Act (1994) etc. The Hindu Succession Act(1956). These legislative measures include. NATIONAL POLICY FOR THE EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN Introduction: The principle of gender equality is in the Indian constitution of its preamble. Dowry Prohibition Act (1961). The Constitution not only 2 . the Hindu Marriage Act (1955). The community consciousness and bureaucratic efforts are integral parts of the implementation of the programmes. Medical Termination of Pregnancy act (1971). The emancipation of women is not a simple matter. They are. Child Marriage Restraint Act(1976). everywhere in which man-woman relationship figure and matter. strenuous and protracted.monitor the flow of benefits to women in education. cognitive and action levels. It has to be fought at emotional. DWACRA Plan (1997) and Balika Samridhi Yojana (1997). other family members and society as a whole to the women. swayam Sidhha. which is the grassroots problem. religion. Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The struggle for gender justice will be slow.
1988-2000. Social stereotyping and violence at the domestic and societal levels are some of the other manifestation. The national Conference foe women were set up by an act of Parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. Five Years After – An Assessment”. From the Fifth Five year Plan (1974-78) onwards has been marked shift in the approach to women’s issue from welfare to development of new issue in determining the status of women. on the other. adolescent girls and women persists in the parts of the country.grants equality to women. but also empowers the state to adopt positive discrimination in favor of women. the Sharmashakti Report. laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making at the local levels. 1974 and highlighted in the National Perspective Plan for Women. However. The policy will 3 . legislation. 1988 and the Platform for Action. development and empowerment of women. Discrimination against girl children. The 73rd &74th Amendments (1993) to the Constitution of India have provided for reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for women. The women’s movement and wide spread network of non Govt. plans. programmes and related mechanisms on the one hand and the situational reality of the status of women in India. This has been analyzed extensively in the Report of the Committee on the status of Women in India. Goal & Objectives: The goal of this policy is to bring about the advancement. there still exists a wide gap between the goals enunciated in the constitution. Gender disparity manifests itself in various forms. the most obvious being the trend of continuously declining female ratio in the population in the last few decades. policies. The Policy takes note of commitments of the Ninth Five Year Plan and the other Sectoral Policies to empowerment of Women. “Towards Equality”. Organization which have strong grass roots presence and deep insight into women’s concerns have contributed in inspiring initiatives for the empowerment of women.
the objectives of this Policy include (i) Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential. employment. and economic life of the nation. political. (vi) Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women. New laws will be enacted and existing laws reviewed to ensure that justice is quick and the punishment meted out to the culprits is commensurate with severity of the offence. in cases of domestic violence and personal assault. equal remuneration. cultural and civil. Policy Prescriptions Judicial Legal Systems Legal-judicial system will be made more responsive & gender sensitive to women’s needs. career & vocational guidance.widely disseminate so as to encourage active participation of all stakeholders for achieving its goal. particularly women’s organizations. security. (viii) Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child. quality education at all levels. occupational health and safety. (vii) Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process. (v) Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. the Policy would aim to encourage changes in personal laws such 4 . (iv) Equal access to women to health care. social. social. Specially. and (ix) Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society. At the initiative of and with the full participation of all stakeholders including community and religious leaders. and public office etc. (ii) The de-jure and de facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres – political. especially. economic. (iii) Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social.
statutory bodies. maintenance. including the legislative. Boards. Economic Empowerment of Women: Poverty Eradication 5 .as those related to marriage. The evolution of property rights in patriarchal system has contributed to the subordinate status of women. as catalysts. All measures will be taken to guarantee women equal access to and full participation in decision making bodies at every level. Trusts etc. including in higher legislative bodies. programmes and systems will be established to ensure mainstreaming of women’s perspective in all developmental processes. plans and programmers of action. Affirmative action such as reservations/quotas. executive. participants and recipients. divorce. corporate. Women – friendly personal policies will also be drawn up to encourage women to participate effectively in the developmental process. Decision Making: Women’s in power sharing and active participation in decision making. will be considered whenever necessary on a time bound basis. sect oral policies. The Policy aim to encourage changes in laws relating to ownership of property and inheritance by evolving consensus in order to make them gender just. Committees. including decision making in political process at all levels will be ensured for the achievement of the goals of empowerment. Wherever there are gaps in policies and programmes. judicial. and guardianship so as to eliminate discrimination against women. Women’s issue and concerns as a result will specially be addressed and reflected in all concerned laws. women specific interventions would be devised to access from time to time the progress of such mainstreaming mechanisms. Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective in the Development Process: Polices. as also the advisory Commission.
it is evident that there is a need for re-framing policies for access to employment and equality of employment. the establishment of new and strengthening of existing micro-credit mechanism and microfinance institution will be undertaken so that the outreach of credit is enhanced. along with necessary support measures to enhance their capabilities. Globalization Globalization has presented new challenges for the realization of goal of women’s equality. Women & Economy: Women’s perspective will be included in designing and implementing macroeconomic and policies by institutionalizing their participation in such processes. macro economic policies and poverty eradication programmes will specially address the needs and problems of such women. given the harsh realities of intra – household and social discrimination. However.Since women comprise the majority of the population below the poverty line and are very often in situation of extreme poverty. Steps will be taken for mobilization of poor women and convergence of services. from the micro level studies that were commissioned by the Department of Women & Child Development. Micro Credit: In order to enhance women’s access to credit for consumption and production. the gender impact of which has not been symmetrically evaluated fully. so that all women below poverty line have easy access to credit. Other supportive measures would be taken to ensure adequate flow credit through extant financial institutions and banks. by offering them a range of economic and social options. Their contribution to socio-economic development as producers and workers will be recognized in the formal and informal sectors (including home based workers) and appropriate policies relating to employment and to her working conditions will be drawn up. Benefits of the 6 .
Social Empowerment of Women Education Equal access to education for women and girls will be ensured. which may from the globalization process. the feminization of poverty. Strategies will be designed to enhance the capacity of women and empower them to meet the negative social and economic impacts. will be expanded to benefit women workers in the agriculture sector. particularly those belonging to weaker sections including the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes/Other Backward Classes/ Minorities. Reducing the gender gap in secondary and higher education would be a focus area. dairy development and other occupation ailed to agriculture lie horticulture. fisheries etc. universalize education. Sectoral time targets in existing policies will be achieved. Special measures will be taken to eliminate discrimination. increased gender inequality through often deteriorating working condition and unsafe working environment especially in the informal economy and rural areas. as producers. create a gender-sensitive educational system. The programmers for training women in soil conservation. social forestry. Women and Agriculture The important role played by women in the agriculture and ailed sectors. Health 7 . with a special focus on girls and women. extension and various programmes will reach them in proportion to their numbers. eradicate illiteracy. poultry. increase enrolment and retention rates of girls and improve the quality of education to facilitate life-long learning as well as development of occupation/ vocation/technical skills by women.growing global economy have been unevenly distributed leading to wider economic disparities. concentrated efforts will be made to ensure that benefits of training. Gender sensitive curricula would be developed at all levels of educational system in order to address sex stereotyping as one of the causes of gender discrimination. livestock including small animal husbandry.
implementation and development agencies. Maternal access to comprehensive.A holistic approach to women’s health which includes both nutrition and health services will be adopted and special attention will be given to the needs of women and the girl at all stages of the life cycle. law enforcement machinery and the judiciary. developmental and health consequences of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases will be tackled from a gender perspecitive. The reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality. Measures will be adopted that take into account the reproductive rights of women to enable them to exercise informed choices. Women’s traditional knowledge about health care and nutrition will be recognized through proper documentation and its use will be encouraged. which are sensitive indicators of human development. birth and marriages is required. infectious and communicable diseases such as malaria. The use of Indian and alternative systems of medicine will be enhanced within the framework of overall health infrastructure available for women. Other measures will include: (a) Promoting societal awareness to gender issues and women’s human rights. legislative and judicial wings of the State. TB. Strict implementation of registration of births and deaths would be ensured and registration of marriages would be made compulsory. affordable and quality health care. and early marriage the availability of good and accurate data at micro level on deaths. The social. This policy reiterates the national demographic goals for Infant Mortality Rates (IMR). with a special focus on policy and programme framers. their vulnerability to sexual and health problems together with endemic. 8 . and water borne diseases as well as hypertension and cardio-pulmonary diseases. (b) Review of curriculum and educational materials to include gender education and human rights issues. is a priority concern. as well as non-governmental organizations will be undertaken. Gender Sensitization Training of personnel of executive. To effectively meet problems of infant and maternal mortality.
(d) Use of different forms of mass media to communicate social messages relating to women’s equality and empowerment. International Cooperation The Policy will aim at implementation of international obligations/commitments in all sectors on empowerment of women such as the Convention on all forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). exchange of ideas and technology. networking with institutions and organizations and through bilateral and multi-lateral partnerships. 9 . Panchayati Raj Instructions The 73rd and 74th Amendments (1993) to the Indians Constitution have served as a breakthrough towards ensuring equal access and increases participation in political power structure for women.(c) Removal of all references derogatory to the dignity of women from all public documents and legal instruments. International. The PRIs will play a central role in the process of enhancing women’s participation in public life. The PRIs and the local self Governments will be actively involved in the implementation and execution of the National Policy for Women at the grassroots level. International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD+5) and other such instruments. regional and sub-regional cooperation towards the empowerment of women will continue to be encouraged through sharing of experiences. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
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