Women empowerment has been amongst the focus areas of the government in the last four years. Although all the successive governments have kept women empowerment on top of their agenda, there is a marked difference in the approach under the current government. Most of the women empowerment initiatives in the past had been in the form of temporary handouts. Now the focus is on making women a true partner in all sectors of development. A culture of true and irreversible empowerment has been developed. To ensure true empowerment of women, the government has come out with several women-centric policies. The flagship schemes focused on women empowerment include Beti Bachao Beti Padao, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. Other major schemes focused on the empowerment of women include National Nutrition Mission, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, Universal Scheme for Adolescent Girls, Mahila Shakti Kendra scheme and a large number of measures for promotion of safety and security of women. The government has extensively leveraged ICT to ensure transparency and quick and efficient delivery of services.
The Ministry of Women & Child Development emerged as one of the top performers in the SKOCH State of Governance 2018 ranking. The ministry bagged five SKOCH Orders-of-Merit and five awards in the Gold category.
Schemes and programmes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY), POSHAN Abhiyaan, Child Adoption Resource Information & Guidance System (CARINGS) and Adoption Programme implemented in the best interest and welfare of the Orphan / Abandoned /Surrendered child in the country, featured in the SKOCH awards.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
Launched on 22 January 2015 at Panipat, Haryana, the Beti Bachao Beti Padao (BBBP) scheme is today implemented in all 640 districts of the country. Two major components of the Scheme are: (i) Multi-sectoral intervention and media advocacy in 405 districts (including initial 161 districts) is being implemented by District Collectors; and, (ii) 360 degree approach in alert media advocacy and outreach activities is in operation in the remaining 235 districts. Multi-sectoral intervention in selected districts led to innovative initiatives to generate awareness and create enabling environment for girls.
The Census, 2011 had shown significant declining trend in the Child Sex Ratio (CSR), with 918 girls per 1,000 boys in the age group of 0-6 years. CSR has declined from 976 in 1961 to 918 in 2011. This unabated decline in CSR is a matter of grave concern as it reflects the low status of women in the society and indicates her disempowerment over a life-cycle continuum. The BBBP Initiative has been successful in establishing the improvement in Child Sex Ratio as a national agenda. It has resulted in increased awareness, sensitisation and conscience building around the issue of declining child sex ratio in the public domain. The scheme has been able to generate a renewed focus on gender equality and girl’s education. As per Unified District Information System for Education 2015-16, the girl’s enrollment in secondary education increased to 80.97 per cent in 2015-16 against 76 per cent in 2013-14.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana
The government has introduced Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) with an objective to provide maternity benefit to compensate for the wage loss in terms of cash incentive so that the woman can take adequate rest before and after delivery of the first child of the family and can invest in the nutrition of herself and her child. The Scheme is being implemented using the platform of Anganwadi Services Scheme of ICDS under Ministry of Women & Child Development and through Health system under the Department of Health & Family Welfare. The scheme is available for all pregnant women and lactating mothers, except those in regular employment with the Central Government or State Government or Public Sector Undertaking or those who are in receipt of similar benefits under any law for the time being in force, for first living child of the family as normally, the first pregnancy of a woman exposes her to new kind of challenges and stress factors.
It is being implemented through a robust web-based MIS Software, PMMVY-CAS resulting in real-time monitoring of the scheme till the grassroots level. The scheme has also re-engineered the process of fund disbursement to the eligible beneficiaries by introducing ESCROW Accounts, maintained by respective States / UTs. This has resulted in significant reduction of time period for disbursing the benefits.
To address the problem of child and maternal malnutrition, the Ministry of Women & Child Development has launched POSHAN Abhiyaan (National Nutrition Mission). The initiative seeks to reduce the level of stunting, undernutrition and low birth weight by 2 per cent each and anaemia by 3 per cent. It aims to reduce stunting from the current 38.4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2022. Its goal is to achieve improvement in nutritional status of children aged 0-6 years, adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers in a time-bound manner, over three years.
A key idea of the initiative is to incentivise Anganwadi Workers for using ICT-based tools, making it easier to implement and monitor the programme. The application has automated the entire process of data capture, data analysis, monitoring and intervention of Anganwadi Services. The application has empowered not only the frontline functionaries but has also provided technological infrastructure for effective and efficient monitoring of the services.