Draft National Policy for Women, 2016 released for consultation

New Delhi, May 17, 2016

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi today released the draft National Policy for Women, 2016 for stakeholder comments and consultations.
Releasing the draft policy at a press conference in New Delhi, the Minister stated that the policy was being revised after 15 years and was expected to guide Government action on women’s issues over the next 15-20 years.
The Minister stated that several things had changed since 2001, especially women's attitude towards themselves and their expectations from life. The new draft Policy shifts the focus from entitlements to rights and from empowerment to creating an enabling environment. She called for widespread comments on the draft policy so that the final document could be a true reflection of the voice of all women. 
Nearly a decade and half have passed since the National Policy for Empowerment of Women, 2001 was formulated. Since then significant strides in global technology and information systems have placed the Indian economy on a trajectory of higher growth impacting the general populace and women in particular in unique and different ways, Ms Gandhi said.
She said the discourse on women empowerment had been gradually evolving over the last few decades, wherein paradigm shifts had occurred –from seeing women as mere recipients of welfare benefits to mainstreaming gender concerns and engaging them in the development process of the country. These changes have brought forth fresh opportunities and possibilities for women empowerment while at the same time presenting new and emerging challenges which along with persisting socio-economic problems continue to hinder gender equality and holistic empowerment of women, she said.
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.
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 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.
In priority areas like health including food security and nutrition, focus would be 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
In education, improved access is sought for 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.
The policy also aims at 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.
In governance and decision making, it aims to Increase women’s participation in the political arena, administration, civil services and corporate boardrooms.
The policy seeks to 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.
It would create and enabling environment like 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.
The policy aims to address 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 is also envisaged.
The policy 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.
Operational strategies laid down in the policy provide a framework for implementation of legislations and strengthening of existing institutional mechanisms through action plan, effective gender institutional architecture. Advocacy and Stakeholder Partnerships, Inter-Sectoral Convergence, Gender Budgeting and generation of gender disaggregated data have also been given due focus. 
Operational strategies include creating an enabling environment through continued and additional initiatives.
Thus, for enabling safety and security of women, initiatives are to be rolled out 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 would be undertaken 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 will be undertaken through Gender Champion initiative, front line workers, women sarpanches and all officials dealing with policy and delivery systems impacting women.
Facilitating women in workplace would be achieved through gender friendly work place, flexi timings, increased maternity leave, provision of child care / creches at workplace, life cycle health care facilities.

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