Friday, March 8, 2013

Schemes for Economic Empowerment of  Women

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) 

*was set up in 1993 to meet the credit needs of poor women in the informal sector for income generation and household activities. 

**Since its inception upto 31.1.2013, RMK has sanctioned Rs. 342.90 crore microfinance loans and released Rs. 278.89 crore benefiting over 7.19 lakh poor women beneficiaries.
** The RMK is now being restructured as a NBFC with a corpus of Rs.500.00 crore. 
**Further, the fact that RMK extends loan upto maximum of 18 per cent interest per annum to SHGs/beneficiaries as against loans disbursed to beneficiaries through Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) under the NABARD’s SHG - Bank Linkage Programme at the interest rate ranging between 30 and 40 per cent per annum and even higher and 60 to 70 percent rate charged by traditional moneylenders

Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) 
*as a Central Sector Scheme since 1986-87, to provide sustainable employment and income generation for marginalized and asset-less rural and urban poor women across the country.
**During last ten years, 3.90 lakh women beneficiaries have been benefitted under the STEP Scheme.

Priyadarshini besides National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW)

*is a Self Help Group (SHG) based project implemented by the Ministry for holistic empowerment of women and adolescent girls. 
*The actual implementation of the scheme was started in April, 2011
*The scheme is being implemented in 7 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
*Since inception, 56738 beneficiaries have been covered under Priyadarshini scheme.

Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) 
**is a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme for pregnant and lactating (P&L) women introduced in the October 2010 to contribute to better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers. 
**6.74 lakh women beneficiaries have been covered under the IGMSY scheme since inception.

National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) 
is an initiative of the Government of India for empowering women holistically, with a mandate to strengthen inter-sectoral convergence.

The objectives of the Mission are to:
I.          Ensure economic empowerment of women,
II.        Ensure that violence against women is eliminated progressively,
III.      Ensure empowerment of women with emphasis on health and education,
IV.   Oversee gender mainstreaming of programmes, policies, institutional arrangements and      processes of participating Mininstries, institutions and organizations, and
V.   Undertake awareness generation as well as advocacy activities to fuel the demand for benefits under various schemes and progreammes and create, if required, structures at district,tehsil and village level with the involvement of Panchayats foe their fulfillment.
  • The women centre at the village level, the first point of contact for women will be known as the POORNA SHAKTI KENDRA (PSK).

  • The Poorna Shakti Kendra (PSK) is the point of focal point action on ground through which the services to grassroots women would be facilitated. Village coordinators at the Kendras would reach out to the women with the motto HUM SUNENGE NAARI KI BAAT!”

Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – ‘Sabla’

  • 2010
  • The scheme is being implemented through Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) in 200 select districts across the country for empowering adolescent girls in the age group of 11 to 18.  
  • Under the scheme, adolescent girls will be provided Take Home Ration.
  • Around 1.15 crore adolescent girls of 11 to 18 years per annum are expected to be covered under the scheme during the Eleventh Plan. 
  • A provision of Rs.3.8 lakh per ICDS project per annum has been made for various components of the scheme like training kit at each Angawadi centre, National Health Education, Life Skill Education, purchase of Iron Folic Acid Tablet for mothers, etc. 

Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB)
  •  1953
  • To promote social welfare activities and implementing welfare programmes for women and children through voluntary organizations.
  • In order to address the socio-economic needs of the women and children of selected eight most backward districts in the North Eastern region in the economic arena, Central Social Welfare Board has formulated the Integrated Scheme for Women Empowerment (ISWE). 
  • The scheme is being implemented on pilot basis since 2008 and has the objective of meeting the felt needs of the area by mobilizing community action, converging available services and resources of the area, income generation through feasible and sustainable activities for women and to provide services for health awareness, career counseling vocational training, preventing child trafficking and other social evils.

  • Swayamsidha scheme was launched in the year 2001 dedicated to Women’s Empowerment.
  • It is a Self Help Group based programme with emphasis on convergence activities.
  • The objective is to ensure that Self Help Group members avail the benefit of all schemes and services in an integrated and holistic manner. 

Short Stay Home for Women and Girls (SSH)
  • 1969
  • To provide temporary shelter to women and girls who are in social and moral danger due to family problems, mental strain, violence at home, social ostracism, exploitation and other causes.

  • 1995
  • To support women to become independent in spirit, in thought, in action and have full control over their lives rather than be the victim of others actions.

Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)
  • 1982
  • To improve the socio-economic status of the poor women in the rural areas through creation of groups of women for income-generating activities on a self-sustaining basis. 

Tamil Nadu Corporation for Development of Women
  • 1983
  • Aims at the socio-economic empowerment of women
Balika Samridhi Yojana: 
  • The scheme of Balika Samridhi Yojana was launched by Govt. of India in 1997. 
  • From the start of the scheme, the mothers of newborn girl children were given a post delivery grant of Rs. 500/- each in cash as a gift from the Government. 
  • There was also provision for Annual Scholarships to the girl child for attending school. 
  • When a girl child born on or after 15-08-1997 and covered under BSY starts attending the school, she will become entitled to annual scholarship for each successfully completed year of schooling.

Stree Shakti Puraskar: 
  • As a measure of recognition of achievements of individual women in the field of social development, the Government of India has decided to institute five national awards which are to be called 'Stree Shakti Puraskar'. 
  • These awards will be in the name of the following eminent women personalities in the Indian history, who are famous for their personal courage and integrity: - Devi Ahilya BaiKanngiMata JijabaiRani Gaidenlou and Rani Lakshmi Bai.

  • (NORAD) Scheme is being implemented by the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of India with partial assistance from Norway since 1982. 
  • Its basic objective is to provide training and skills to women to facilitate them obtain employment or self-employment on a sustained basis.  
  • The target groups under the scheme are the poor and needy women, women from weaker sections of the society, such as Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, etc.  
  • Financial assistance is provided to undertake training programmes for women in both traditional as well as non-traditional trades.

Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme
  • With a view to encourage women to join/ continue with gainful employment, Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for children of working mothers (RGNCS) was introduced in 2006. 
  • The scheme seeks to provide day care facilities to children in the age group 0-6 years from families with a monthly income of less than Rs. 12,000/-. In addition to being a safe space for the children, the crèche provide services like supplementary nutrition, pre school education, emergency health care etc.
  • The scheme provides for grant of Rs.3532/- per month for a crèche, limited to 90% of the schematic pattern or actual expenditure whichever is less, and the remaining expenditure is borne by the implementing agencies. 
  • Honorarium to crèche workers is fully funded under the scheme. 
  • Funds are separately provided to the implementing agencies for one time training of crèche workers.
  • The Central Sector scheme is implemented through Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) and two national level mother NGOs i.e. Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) and Bharatiya  Adimjati  Sevak  Sangh (BAJSS).

The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment. 


The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women
  • It  was passed in 2001 the goal of which is to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women. 
  • The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women. 
  • It underscores girl rights, health, women education, gender equality, decision making, poverty eradication and violence against women.
'Promoting Women's Political Leadership and Governance in India and South Asia' project

  • The Government of India has launched an ambitious programme to empower elected women panchayat representatives in collaboration with Norway and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
  • The joint programme, launched on the occasion of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary, will be undertaken on a pilot basis in Bihar, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
  • The programme, for which the Royal Government of Norway has committed about 10 million USD, will also be implemented by UNIFEM in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Bhutan apart from six states in India.
  • The launch of the programme is part of an inter-government MoU signed between India and Norway. It aims at providing an effective political leadership role for women in governance without facing discrimination or violence and addressing their concerns of economic, social and physical security at different levels.

Gender Budgeting and Economic Empowerment of Women-
  • Budgets, which influence the overall level of national income and employment and reflect the priorities of the government regarding public investment, also promote gender equality within the national development framework. 
  • The Government of India is committed to promoting gender equality and has adopted Gender Budgeting (GB) as a tool to address the inequalities faced by women. The purpose is to ensure the translation of Government’s policy commitments on gender equity into budgetary allocations.
  • To institutionalize the process of Gender Budgeting, the Government had initiated the formation of Gender Budget Cells (GBCs) within all Central Ministries/ Departments in 2005. 
  • These Cells are required to take up evaluation of existing Government programmes and schemes from a gender perspective and identify new areas of intervention for addressing the existing gender gaps. 
  • The flow of funds under certain women specific schemes/programmes are also being monitored through a Gender Budget Statement (Statement 20) as a part of the Union Budget Document since 2005.
  • MWCD, as the nodal agency, is pursuing with other Ministries/Departments to build their capacity so as to integrate gender concerns across sectors/schemes/programmes/ and ensure proper allocation and/or reprioritization of resources.
Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005

Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 is a major bill passed by Indian Parliament during UPA1 government regime (2005). The law is crucial, as the it helps in the protection of the weaker sex – women – from the violence she face in the place she live in.

Salient features of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
·         The protection of women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
·         Enacted by Parliament on 13th September, 2005.
·         Come into effect on 26th October, 2006.
·         It intends to provide protection to the wife or female live-in partner from violence at the hands of the husbands or male live-in partner or his relatives.
·         It also extends its protection to women who are sisters, widows or mothers.
·         Child abuse is also included in it.
·         Harrassment by way of dowry demand is included under it as an offence.
·         Act provides for the appointment of protection officers by the Government to help the victims.
·         Punishment of one years maximum imprisonment and Twenty thousand rupees each or both to the offenders is mentioned
·         The Domestic Violence Act, 2005 is to extend its protection to women who are sisters, widows or mothers.
·         Domestic violence under the Domestic Violence Act 2005, includes actual abuse or the threat of abuse whether physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or economical.
·         Harassment by way of unlawful dowry demands to the women or her relatives would also be covered under this act as an offence.
Criticisms of Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005
·         Abused men not covered; the law is specially for women.
·         Violence against women are often perpetrated by women herself – Eg: Mother-in-law/ Daugher-in-law.
·         Verbal abuse and mental harassment are subjective terms.
Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
  • The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act' prohibits the request, payment or acceptance of a dowry, "as consideration for the marriage". where "dowry" is defined as a gift demanded or given as a precondition for a marriage.
  •  Gifts given without a precondition are not considered dowry, and are legal. 
  • Asking or giving of dowry can be punished by an imprisonment of up to six months, or a fine of up to Rs. 5000
  • It replaced several pieces of anti-dowry legislation that had been enacted by various Indian states.
  • Indian women's rights activists campaigned for more than 40 years to contain dowry deaths without much success.
  •  The Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 and the more stringent Section 498a of IPC (enacted in 1983) did not achieve the desired result. 
  • Using the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2005 (PWDVA) implemented in 2006, a woman can put a stop to the dowry harassment by approaching a domestic violence protection officer. 
  • Due to demands by women's rights activists, the Indian government has modified property inheritance laws and permitted daughters to claim equal rights to their parental property.
  •  Some religious groups have urged the people to curb the extravagant spendings during the marriages.

Recently A committee set up by the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) has proposed widening the definition of   dowry to include property or valuables given for "uninterrupted or peaceful sustenance of marriage".

The panel, consisting of 13 members including representatives from the law and justice and the home affairs ministries, was set up to review the Dowry Prohibition (Amendment) Bill 2010 after the WCD ministry received representations against the proposed changes.

Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, (IRWA) 

  • was enacted 1980.
  •  prohibiting the indecent representation of women through advertisement, publication, writing, and painting.

In Oct 2012, the Union Cabinet approved following Amendments in IRWA 1986
1.                law will cover the audio-visual media and material in electronic form.
2.                Penalties to be enhanced

a.   First Conviction - three years of imprisonment and fine of between Rs.50,000 to Rs.1,00,000 

b.   Second Conviction imprisonment of not less than two years, but which may extend to seven years, and a fine between Rs.1,00,000 to Rs.5,00,000

(3) Authorised government officers and police officers not below the rank of Inspectors authorized to carry out search and seizure.

Some relevant Acts which supplements Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986:

1.  Press and Registration of Book Act 1867

2.  The Information Technology Act, 2000: This Act has made provisions against indecenet and inappropriate representation of women.


The Commission of Sati (Preventation) Act

  • Sati: ancient Hindu tradition of immolation of widows on their husband's pyre. Was practiced among the higher castes of Brahmins and Rajputs. 
  • The practice was banned in 1829 by the British, but isolated incidents have occurred, the most infamous being the Sati of Roop Kanwar in 1987
  • The Indian Government in 1987 passed the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987. 


Constitutional provisions for protection of women
1.               The Constitution of India not only grants equality to women but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women for neutralizing the cumulative socio-economic, educational and political disadvantages faced by them.
2.                Article 14 confers on men and women equal rights and opportunities in the political, economic and social spheres. 
3.               While Article 15 prohibits discrimination against any citizen on the grounds of religion, race, caste, sex etc., Article 15(3) makes a special provision enabling the State to make affirmative discrimination in favour of women. 
4.               Similarly, Article 16 provides for equality of opportunities in matter of public appointments for all citizens. 
5.               Article 39(a) further mentions that the State shall direct its policy towards securing to all citizens men and women, equally, the right to means of livelihood, while Article 39(c) ensures equal pay for equal work. 
6.               Article 42 directs the State to make provision for ensuring just and humane conditions of work and maternity relief. 
7.               Above all, the Constitution imposes a fundamental duty on every citizen through Articles 51 (A)(e) to renounce practices derogatory to dignity of women.

In January 1992, the National Commission for Women (NCW), was set up as a statutory body under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990

As the problem of violence against women is multifaceted, the NCW has adopted a multi-pronged strategy to tackle the problem. 
  • The Commission has initiated generation of legal awareness among women, thus equipping them with the knowledge of their legal rights and with a capacity to use these rights. 
  • It assists women in redressal of their grievances through pre-litigation services. 
  • To facilitate speedy delivery of justice to women Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats are organized in different parts of the country to review the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws affecting women and recommending amendments thereto, any lacunae, inadequacies or shortcomings in such legislations.
  • It organises promotional activities to mobilise women and get information about their status and recommend paradigm shift in the empowerment of women.
  • The Complaints and Counselling Cell of the commission processes the complaints received oral, written or suo moto under Section 20 of the NCW Act
  • The complaints received relate to domestic violence, harassment, dowry, torture, desertion, bigamy, rape, refusal to register FIR, cruelty by husband, deprivation, gender discrimination and sexual harassment at work place.
  • For serious crimes, the Commission constitutes an Inquiry Committee which makes spot enquiries,examines various witnesses, collects evidence and submits the report with recommendations. The implementation of the report is monitored by the NCW.
  • The NCW also constitutes Expert Committees for dealing with such special issues as may be taken up by the Commission from time to time. Some important issues taken up by the NCW include sexual harassment at workplace, women in detention, anti-arrack movement, issues concerning prostitution and political and technological empowerment of women in agriculture.
  • It also constitutes NRI Cells address NRI issues.
Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010

Salient features of the Bill are as follows:

• The Bill proposes a definition of sexual harassment, which is as laid down by the
Hon'ble Supreme Court in Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997). Additionally it recognises the promise or threat to a woman's employment prospects or creation of hostile work environment as 'sexual harassment' at workplace and expressly seeks to prohibit such acts.

• The Bill provides protection not only to women who are employed but also to any woman who enters the workplace as a client, customer, apprentice, and daily wageworker or in ad-hoc capacity. Students, research scholars in colleges/university and patients in hospitals have also been covered. Further, the Bill seeks to cover workplaces in the unorganised sectors.

• The Bill provides for an effective complaints and redressal mechanism. Under the proposed Bill, every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee. Since a large number of the establishments (41.2 million out of 41.83 million as per Economic Census, 2005) in our country have less than 10 workers for whom it may not be feasible to set up an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC), the Bill provides for setting up of Local Complaints Committee (LCC) to be constituted by the designated District Officer at the district or sub-district levels, depending upon the need. This twin mechanism would ensure that women in any workplace, irrespective of its size or nature, have access to a redressal mechanism. The LCCs will enquire into the complaints of sexual harassment and recommend action to the employer or District Officer.

• Employers who fail to comply with the provisions of the proposed Bill will be punishable with a fine which may extend to Rs. 50,000.

• Since there is a possibility that during the pendency of the enquiry the woman may be subject to threat and aggression, she has been given the option to seek interim relief in the form of transfer either of her own or the respondent or seek leave from work.

• The Complaint Committees are required to complete the enquiry within 90 days and a period of 60 days has been given to the employer/District Officer for implementation of the recommendations of the Committee.

• The Bill provides for safeguards in case of false or malicious complaint of sexual harassment. However, mere inability to substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof would not make the complainant liable for punishment. 


Some International Conventions for Women 

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
  • CEDAW is the most authoritative UN human rights instrument to protect women from discrimination. It is the first international treaty to comprehensively address women's fundamental rights in politics, health care, education, economics, employment, law, property, and marriage and family relations.
Origin date: 1979

The Beijing platform of Action

Adopted at the Fourth Conference on Women in 1995. The platform identifies 12 critical areas of action needed to empower women and ensure their human rights;
  • women and poverty
  • education and training of women
  • women and health
  • violence against women
  • women and armed conflict
  • women and the economy
  • women in power and decision making
  • institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women
  • human rights of women
  • women and the media
  • women and environment
  • and the girl-child
Origin date: 1995

Beijing + 5 Review
  • The outcome document of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly (Beijing +5). A renewal of commitments to examine challenges and good practices in implementing the Beijing Platform of Action. 

Beijing +10 Review
  • Review of the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of the special session of the General Assembly entitled "Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century"; and current challenges and forward looking strategies for the advancement and empowerment of women and girls.
Origin date: 2005

Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
  • 15 November 2000. The Protocol is intended to "prevent and combat" trafficking in persons and facilitate international cooperation against such trafficking. It provides for criminal offences, control and cooperation measures against traffickers. It also provides some measures to protect and assist the victims. 
Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security
  • Adopted by the Security Council at its 4213th meeting, on 31 October 2000. The resolution reaffirms the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction and stresses the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs
  • In September 2000, at the United Nations Millennium Summit, world leaders agreed to a set of time-bound and measurable goals and targets for combating poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. The target date is 2015. The eight Millennium Development Goals form a blueprint agreed to by all the world's countries and all the world's leading development institutions. There are eight Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality within education is one of them.



March 4       -    World Day of the Fight Against Sexual Exploitation

March 8       -    International Womens’ Day

 International Women of Courage Award to Nirbhaya

Nirbhaya fund for safety of women
  • The Central government has announced “Nirbhaya Fund” for women’s safety in memory of the Delhi gang-rape victim in the 2013 Union Budget. 
  • The fund with Rs 1,000 crore corpus will support initiatives by the government and NGOs working towards protecting the dignity and ensuring safety of women.
  • The Ministry of Women and Child Development, along with several other concerned ministries, will work out details of the structure, scope and the application of the fund.


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