In June 2020, union government constituted Jaya Jaitley task force to look into the ‘age of a girl entering motherhood’ in order to lower MMR (Maternal Mortality Ratio) and improve their nutritional status.
This task force is considering to whether or not increase the marriageable age for women to 21 by amending Sharda act of 1929.
Challenges faced by Indian women are –
i) Low literacy – According to NFHS-4, literacy among women is just 68.4% as against Total literacy rate of 74.04% (census 2011).
ii) Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) of women is just 23.7%
iii) Lower political representation with just 14.4% i.e. 78 Women MPs in 17th Lok Sabha.
iv) High Maternal Mortality Rate of 122 as per recently launched SRS (Sample registration system) bulletin.
v) Anaemic Adolescents girls and women (15-49 years) proportion is staggering 53%.
vi) 22.9% of women have BMI below normal.
vii) 25 % of women between age group of 20-24 were married at age below 18 (NFHS 4).
viii) Due to son meta-preference, unwanted girls and missing girls, sex ratio in India is 940 (census 2011).
ix) Global Gender Gap report 2020 ranked India at 112 rank which shows prevalent gender discrimination in India.
Apart from this, honour killings, patriarchy, patrilineality, patrilocality, sexual abuse, sexual harassment at work place, domestic violence, low skill, lower wages/ salary are other challenges faced by Indian women.
Government has taken various initiatives to empower Indian women such as
i) Setting up separate ministry, separate commission, policy on women empowerment of 2001, gender budgeting.
ii) POSHAN Abhiyan to improve nutritional outcome.
iii) PM Matru Vandana yojana– Conditional cash Initiative for institutional deliveries.
iv) SABLA for empowerment of Adolescent girls of 11-18 years of age.
v) PM Mahila Shakti Kendra for empowering rural women through community participation.
Also BBBP, Sukanya Samridhi, UJJWALA are efforts in same direction. However, a lot needs to be done.
Measures for women empowerment
i) Although Non- binding but the provisions of BPFA- Beijing declaration and platform for action should be implemented in letter and spirit.
ii) 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill which seeks to reserve 33% seats in parliament for women should be passed.
iii) ‘Strategy for New India @75’ lists following steps:
- Promoting and ensuring gender sensitive thinking.
- Ranking sector on key gender related indicators.
- Encouraging women participation in industry
- Improve asset ownership and economic security.
- Create enabling conditions for women engaged in agriculture by ensuring 50 percent membership of women farmers in FPOs.
- Enhance women skill and leveraging ability.
- Reservation for women in jobs, for instance in Bihar.
- Ensuring mobility, security and safety for all women.
By implementation of above suggestions we can definitely create ‘NEW INDIA’ by 2022 where women will be truly empowered.