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Analysis of Sansad TV Discussion : Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women

Context

  • The Committee on Empowerment of Women has said in its latest report that the performance of Centre’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme in the states has not been up to the mark while expressing “dismay” at the poor utilisation of funds.
  • The committee tabled its fifth report on “Empowerment of women through education with special reference to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme’’ in Lok Sabha recently.

What is the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme?

  • Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) was launched by the Prime Minister on 22nd January 2015 at Panipat, Haryana.
  • The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Scheme, launched to address the decline in Child Sex Ratio and related issues of empowerment of girls, is implemented by states with 100% central assistance.
  • It is a tri-ministerial scheme with the Women and Child Development Ministry as the nodal ministry. The other two ministries involved are Health and Family Welfare and Education (Department of School Education and Literacy).

About the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women

  • It was constituted in 1997.
  • It has 30 members – 20 from the Lok Sabha (Lower House) nominated by the Speaker and 10 from the Rajya Sabha (Upper House) nominated by the Chairperson of Rajya Sabha.
  • The term of the members of the Committee does not exceed one year.
  • The mandate of the Committee is to review and monitor the measures taken by the Union Government in the direction of securing women equality, status and dignity in all matters.
  • The functions of the Committee include inter-alia, considering the reports submitted by the National Commission for Women (NCW) and reporting on the measures taken by the Union Government for improving the status/condition of women.

What did the Panel Say?

  • According to the report, nearly 80 per cent of the funds for the BBBP scheme has been used for its advertising and not on sectoral interventions such as in health and education for women.
  • The committee said since its inception in 2014-15 till 2019-20, the total budgetary allocation under the scheme was Rs 848 crore, excluding the Covid-stricken financial year of 2020-21. During this period, an amount of Rs 622.48 crore was released to the states.
  • However, to the committee’s dismay, only 25.13% of the funds, i.e. Rs 156.46 crore, has been spent by the states, reflecting not up to the mark performance of the scheme,” the panel’s report said.
  • The committee further observed that out of a total of Rs 446.72 crore released during 2016- 2019, “a whopping 78.91% was spent only on media advocacy”.
  • Though the committee understands the necessity to undertake a media campaign to spread the message of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao among the people, they have felt that it is equally important to balance the objectives of the scheme,”
  • The panel recommended that “the government should focus on planned expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health.”

Why Media Campaign is Essential under the BBBP Scheme?

  • The campaign aims at ensuring that girls are born, nurtured and educated without discrimination to become empowered citizens of this country with equal rights which is only possible when people’s participation is increased.
  • That’s why a 360° media approach is being adopted to create awareness and disseminate information about the issue across the nation.

Policy Initiatives by GOI to Empower Women

  • The principle of gender equality is enshrined within the Constitution of India which guarantees gender equality and empowers the State to formulate affirmative action in favour of women.
  • The Government of India has taken various steps to ensure the empowerment of women through their social, educational, economic and political uplifting through various schematic interventions.
  • While the schemes implemented by the Government like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP), Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban & Rural), the National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP), Pradhan Mantri Vyay Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) and Scheme for Adolescent Girls (SAG) support women and girls to be socially secure, the initiatives like Samagra Shiksha, Scheme of National Overseas Scholarship, Babu Jagjivan Ram Chhatrawas Yojna, Swacch Vidyalaya Mission, etc. ensure that schools are girl-friendly especially for vulnerable sections of society and have adequate facilities in place to fulfil their special requirements.
  • Further, the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020 prioritises gender equity and envisions ensuring equitable access to quality education to all students, with a special emphasis on Socially and Economically Disadvantaged Groups (SEDGs).
  • In order to enhance the employability of female workers, the Government is providing training to them through a network of Women Industrial Training Institutes, National Vocational Training Institutes and Regional Vocational Training Institutes.
  • Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojna (PMUY) aims to safeguard the health of women by providing them with clean cooking fuel and also from the drudgery of collecting firewood.
  • Further, in order to encourage the employment of women, a number of enabling provisions have been incorporated in the recently enacted Labour Codes viz. the Code on Wages, 2019, the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, the Occupational Safety, Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020 and the Code on Social Security, 2020 for creating a congenial work environment for women workers.
  • Stand Up India scheme promotes entrepreneurship amongst women.
  • The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (MGNREGA) mandates that at least one-third of the jobs generated under the scheme (MGNREGS) should be given to women.
  • The Central Government gives high priority to ensuring the safety and security of women and has undertaken various legislative and schematic interventions in this regard. These include legislations such as “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2018‟, “The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013‟, “The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013‟, “The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2006‟, “The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961‟, etc.
  • In addition, the Government of India has decided to implement the Umbrella Scheme for Safety, Security and Empowerment of Women as an integrated women empowerment program under the name ‘Mission Shakti’, for addressing the issues of women on a life-cycle continuum basis and for making them equal partners in nation-building through convergence at different levels of governance and a participative approach.

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