Government of India is implementing various programs/schemes and legislations to address various forms of gender discrimination. The root cause of gender discrimination is the patriarchal mind set prevalent in the Indian society. Though this mind set is changing with urbanization and education, still there is long way to go for a permanent change in the scenario.
Sex ratio at birth has improved from 918 in 2014-15 to 931 in 2018-19 and female literacy rate has increased from 55.1% in 2004-05 to 68.4% in 2015-16. As per NCRB data, which is available up to 2016, 339457, 329243 and 338954 cases were registered as crime against women in the years 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. Over the years various legislations have been enacted. In the changed environment, now more and more women are accessing criminal justice system to complain against the harassment suffered in educational institutes, workplaces and various other public organizations in India.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) has developed syllabus and textbooks across the subjects to promote gender sensitization in the school curriculum. The text books at all stages of school education prioritise gender sensitization in designing of activities/exercises. Gender sensitive messages have been incorporated in the inside of cover pages of the textbooks and the other supplementary material. Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has also prepared guidelines for gender sensitivity in textbooks and textual material, including question papers.
The Government of India has already enacted a number of legislations to prevent exploitation/ harassment of women and to address the issues of discrimination and gender disparity. These include ‘The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009’, ‘The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013’, ‘The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005’, ‘The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961’, ‘The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986’, ‘The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’; ‘The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006’, ‘The Equal Remuneration Act, 1976’, ‘The Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017’ and the 73rd – 74th Amendment of the Constitution mandating 33% reservation for women in the local governance. The Criminal Law (Amendment), Act 2013 has been enacted making the punishment more stringent for offences like rape, sexual assaults, etc.
The Government of India is implementing various schemes/programmes to overcome gender disparity and provide equal status to women in the country. The schemes being implemented by Ministry of Women and Child Development for welfare of women are
- Beti Bacho Beti Padhao (BBBP) to improve the Child Sex Ratio and enabling education for the girl children,
- Swadhar Greh Scheme to provide relief and rehabilitation to destitute women and women in distress,
- Ujjawala a Comprehensive Scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and re-integration of victims of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation,
- Rashtriya Mahila Kosh (RMK) to provide loan to poor women through Intermediary Microfinancing Organisations (IMOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to promote their socio-economic development,
- Working Women Hostels (WWH) for ensuring safe accommodation for women working away from their place of residence.
Apart from the above, Ministry of Women and Child Development is also implementing scheme of ‘One Stop Centre’ to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence, scheme for ‘Universalisation of Women Helpline’ intended to provide 24 hours immediate and emergency response to women affected by violence and scheme of ‘Mahila Police Volunteers’ in which MPVs act as a link between police and community and help women in distress.
Further, Ministry of Women and Child Development in collaboration with National Gender Centre (NGC), Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration (LBSNAA), Mussoorie has organised Gender Sensitization programmes during the last year for the officers including District Magistrates, Officers from Judiciary Services.