Empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieve internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improve the quality of life for women, men, families and communities. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) focuses on gender equality and women’s empowerment not only in term of human rights, but also because they are a pathway to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.
The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive principles. The Constitution not only grants equality to women but also empower the State to adopt measure of positive discrimination in favour of women.
Within the framework of a democratic polity, our laws, development policies, plans and programmes, have aimed at women’s advancement in different spheres. The National Commission for Women was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1990 to safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women. The 73rd and 74th Amendments (1993) to the Constitution of India have provided for reservation of seats in the local bodies of Panchayats and Municipalities for women, laying a strong foundation for their participation in decision making at the local levels.
Even though the women’s movement and a wide-spread network of non- Government Organizations, which have strong grass-roots presence and deep insight into women’s concerns, have contributed towards inspiring initiatives for the empowerment of women, there still exist a wide gap between the goals enunciated in the Constitution, legislation, policies plans, programmes, and related mechanisms on the one hand and the situational reality of the status of women in India, on the other.
A holistic approach to women’s health which includes both nutrition and health services requires to be pursued where attention needs to be given to the needs of women and the girl at all stages of the life. The reduction of infant mortality and maternal mortality, which are sensitive indicators of human development, continues to be a priority concern.
The Department of posts organized a nation-wide competition inviting entries for the designs of commemorative postage stamps on the theme “Women Empowerment”. Based on selected entries, a set of four stamps and a miniature sheet on the theme was released by Hon’ble Minister of Communication & Information Technology Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad.