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Towards gender justice

Print edition : Mar 24, 2006

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The government wants to ensure the overall development of women.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The government wants to ensure the overall development of women.-BY SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

The government is keen to change the status of women.

THE social conditions of Haryana's women are backward. Perhaps it is one reason that prompted the Hooda government to concentrate on issues concerning women. The fact that the number of women is dwindling fast and that female foeticide is one of the primary reasons for this decline, has prompted the government to be proactive. According to Census 2001, there were 861 females against 1,000 males in Haryana. In the 0-6 age group, there were only 819 females to 1,000 males. The situation in some of the districts was worse than the State average. There were 771 females against 1,000 males in Kurukshetra, 788 in Sonepat, 782 in Ambala, 791 in Kaithal and 799 in Rohtak.

The government has launched a two-pronged strategy to tackle the problem of female foeticide. The problem has to be addressed at two levels. One, at the level of the law, the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, and the other at the level of ensuring the overall development of women. The government has taken several measures to ensure that the Act is enforced. It has also facilitated social initiatives that would make the girl child wanted by people. It offers incentives to encourage equal preference for the girl child.

In order to enforce the PNDT Act, task forces at the State and district levels have been constituted. These would inspect ultrasound centres and take action against doctors violating the PNDT Act. The licences of several erring clinics have been cancelled and first information reports (FIRs) registered against their owners. Under the Act, 854 ultrasound clinics, six mobile clinics and 66 genetic counselling centres, have been registered. What the government needs to do is to identify the remaining centres that conduct sex determination tests illegally. This can happen only if all government departments take this up as a matter of priority.

The government has constituted a monitoring board under which a multi-member appropriate authority has been set up. Civil surgeons of all districts are the officers of the authority at the district level. District advisory committees comprising the Secretary, District Red Cross Society, the Family Welfare Officer, the Vaccination Officer, one gynaecologist, one child specialist and three women social workers have been constituted to educate people and to change their mindset in favour of the male child.

Although women contribute a lot to the State's economy by working at home as well as in the agricultural fields, equal property rights are denied to them. Without a change in their economic status their social status would not improve. A change in the economic status can come about only if women are encouraged to participate equally in all walks of life.

The government has launched an innovative scheme named "Ladli", a term of endearment for the child in northern India. Under the scheme, on the birth of the second girl child on or after August 20, 2005, the mother as well as the new-born girl child would get an incentive of Rs.5,000 a year for a span of five years. This amount would be invested in a Kisan Vikas Patra which would mature when the second girl child attains the age of 18. If two girls are born in a family after that designated date, the second girl child would get the benefit.

Under the Ladli Social Security Scheme, parents who are left to fend for themselves after the marriage of their daughters would receive a monthly pension of Rs.300 from their 55th year until their 60th birthday. After this, they would benefit under the Old Age Allowance Scheme. This scheme is applicable to all sections of society but either of the parents should be a Haryanvi.

The government's Janani Suraksha Yojana, being implemented under the National Rural Health Mission, aims at reducing maternal and infant mortality by increasing the number of institutional deliveries among women from families living below the poverty line. The scheme would benefit women over the age of 19. It aims mainly at encouraging institutional childbirth, providing health care to women during and after delivery, providing them transport facility and checking mother-infant mortality rates.

Under this scheme, rural women below the poverty line would get Rs.500 at the time of delivery. In case the delivery is conducted at a health centre, government or private, an additional financial assistance of Rs.200 would be given. In case a woman undergoes laproscopy or tubectomy soon after being hospitalised, Rs.150 would be provided to her under the family planning scheme.

The government has initiated a maternal benefit scheme called Janani Suvidha Yojana for pregnant women in slums. They would get pre-delivery services through prepaid vouchers. Free delivery services and immunisation services for infants will be provided by doctors or nursing homes who are on the government's panel. A "Sakhi" will act as a link between the women and the doctors. She will be paid an honorarium for her services and the State government will bear the expenses of the prepaid vouchers used by the women.

A scheme worth Rs.239.52 crores has been prepared for the construction of individual and community toilets for women. This is mainly for families below the poverty line.

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