The High Level Committee released the Preliminary Report on Status of Women in India on 3 February 2014. The Committee headed by Pam Rajput was appointed by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development in February 2012 to understand the status of women since 1989.
Report revealed that Violence against Women, Declining Sex Ratio and Economic Disempowerment of Women are three key burning issues which will require immediate attention and action by the government.
Recommendations for the immediate action by the government are as follows
• Legislation for 50 percent reservation for women in all decision-making bodies should be enacted
• The constitutional promise of a right-based approach needs to be promoted for positive outcomes to enhance the status of women
• There is an urgent need to formulate National Policy and Action Plan for ending violence against women impacting the life cycle of female population at every stage of her life
• Institutional mechanisms should be strengthened and well resourced. The Minister for Women and Child Development should be of cabinet rank, thus reflecting the Governments concern with women issues
• Currently large amount of resources continue to be directed towards child development under the Ministry of Women and Child Development. Increased resources would enable prioritization of gender concerns as well
• The MWCD should engage with, participate in and draw from international debates. It is also not out of place to point out that the Concluding Observations of the CEDAW Committee should be revisited and acted upon by Government of India as part of our international commitments to uphold women’s rights
• The parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women must examine the gender implications of all proposed legislations. There is also a need for the Committee to meet more often, and its meetings should be open to civil society groups as observers
• The role of the National Commission for Women must go beyond reactive interventions to fulfill the proactive mandate of studying, recommending and influencing policies, laws, programmes and budgets to ensure full benefits to the stake holders.
• The National Commission for Women is as an apex body is responsible for and answerable to 5o percent of the Indian population. The selection and composition of the members must be made through an institutionalized and transparent process. A selection committee comprising of experts must be given the task of searching, identifying and selecting the members who must be professionals of proven expertise. Appointments must be made keeping professional capability in mind and not political affiliations.
• Gender Responsive Budgeting coupled with gender audits should be taken more seriously to reflect purposive gender planning
• The development paradigm must have a major thrust on decentralization which would result in larger numbers of women participating in the developmental process
• Assessment of the status of women in India should be a regular feature. There should be a regular mechanism for continuous examination and assessment of status of women and reporting back publically to the nation and women of India on a bi-annual basis
Who: High Level Committee
When: 3 February 2014