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Welfare Programmes for Indian Women Development

by Vinodh Reddy

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The Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) are implementing various welfare schemes and programmes for Indian women. These are programs are listed below and explained as follows:

  1. Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (Sabla)
  2. Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)
  3. Support to Training & Employment Programme for Women (STEP)
  4. Hostel for Working Women (WWH)
  5. Women Empowerment and Livelihood Programme in Mid-Gangetic Plains (Priyadarshini)
  6. Swadhar (Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)
  7. Scheme for Combating Trafficking
  8. Family Counselling Centers (FCCs)
  9. Short Stay Home Programme
  10. Awareness Generation Programme (AGP)
  11. Condensed Courses of Education for Adult Women (CCE)
  12. Integrated Scheme for Women’s Empowerment (ISWE)
  13. Gender Budgeting Scheme (GBS)
development programmes for Indian women

1. Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (Sabla)

A comprehensive scheme for the holistic development of adolescent girls called ‘Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls’ (RGSEAG) Sabla is a centrally sponsored program of Government of India initiated on April 1, 2011 under Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD). Sabla is being implemented in 205 selected districts across the country, using the ICDS platform. In these districts, Sabla has replaced the Nutrition Programme for Adolescent Girls (NPAG) and Kishori Shakti Yojana (KSY). In the non-Sabla districts, KSY continues as before. Sabla is being implemented through the State Governments/UTs with 100 per cent financial assistance from the Central Government for all inputs other than nutrition provision for which 50% Central assistance is provided to states. Anganwadi Centre is the focal point for the delivery of the services. Sabla aims at an all-round development of adolescent girls (AGs) of 11–18 years by making them self reliant by facilitating access to learning, health and nutrition through various interventions such as health, education, vocational training, etc.
The scheme has two major components, i.e., Nutrition and Non-Nutrition. Nutrition component containing 600 calories, 18-20 grams of protein and micronutrients per beneficiary per day for 300 days in a year is being given in the form of Take Home Ration or Hot Cooked Meal to 11–14 years out of school girls and all girls of 14–18 years age (out-of-school and in school girls). In the Non- Nutrition Component, the Out-of-school Adolescent Girls 11–18 years are being provided IFA supplementation, Health check-up and Referral services, Nutrition & Health Education, Counselling/Guidance on family welfare, Adolescent Reproductive Sexual Health (ARSH), childcare practices and Life Skill Education and accessing public services. 16–18 years old AGs are also given vocational training.

2. Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)

The Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) is a Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme for pregnant and lactating women. It was introduced in the year 2010 to contribute to better enabling environment by providing cash incentives for improved health and nutrition to pregnant and nursing mothers.
The Scheme envisages providing cash to Pregnant & Lactating (P&L) women during pregnancy and lactation in response to individual fulfilling specific conditions. It addresses short-term income support objectives with long-term objective of behavioural and attitudinal changes. The scheme attempts to partly compensate for wage loss to Pregnant & Lactating women both prior to and after delivery of the child.
Being implemented on pilot basis in 53 selected districts using the platform of Integrated Child Development Services Scheme (ICDS), 12.5 lakh P & L women are expected to be covered every year under IGMSY. The beneficiaries are paid 4000 in three installments per P & L woman between the second trimester and till the child attains the age of 6 months on fulfilling specific conditions related to maternal and child health. Pregnant women of 19 years of age and above for first two live births are eligible under the scheme. All Government/Public Sector Undertakings (Central and state) employees are excluded from the scheme as they are entitled for paid maternity leave. The wives of such employees are also excluded from the Scheme.

3. Support to Training & Employment Programme for Women (STEP)

The Support to Training & Employment Programme for Women (STEP) scheme was launched as a Central Sector Scheme in 1986-87. The scheme aims to make a significant impact on women by upgrading skills for employment on a self-sustainable basis and income generation for marginalised and asset-less rural and urban women especially those in SC/ST households and families below poverty line. The key strategies include training for skill development, mobilising women in viable groups, arranging for marketing linkages and access to credit.
The scheme also provides for enabling support services in the form of health checkups, child-care, legal & health literacy, elementary education and gender sensitisation. The scheme envisages each project to thrive on a self sustainable basis with minimum governmental support and intervention even after the project period is over.
The scheme covers 10 sectors of employment i.e. Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Dairying, Fisheries, Handlooms, Handicrafts, Khadi and Village Industries, Sericulture, Waste Land Development and Social Forestry. The scope and coverage of the scheme has been enlarged with the introduction of locally appropriate sectors.

4. Working Women’s Hostel (WWH)

The Working Women’s Hostel (WWH) Scheme envisages provision of safe and affordable hostel accommodation to working, single working woman, women working at places away from their hometown and for women being trained for employment.

The scheme has been revised with following salient features:

  1. Financial assistance for construction of hostel building to be given only on public land.
  2. Financial assistance available for rent of the hostels run in rented premises also.
  3. Provision for maintenance grant of hostel building (maximum 5 lakh) and one-time nonrecurring grant for furnishings for 7500 per beneficiary.
  4. State government agencies, Urban Municipal Bodies, Cantonment Boards, Civil Society Organisations, Panchayati Raj Institutions, Self Help Groups, recognised Colleges/Universities and Corporate or associations like CII, Associated Chambers of Commerce of India (ASSOCHAM) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) included under the revised scheme.

Since its inception in 1972–73, 902 working women hostels have been sanctioned under the scheme all over the country benefiting about 67,284 working women.

5. Women Empowerment and Livelihood Programme in Mid-Gangetic Plains (Priyadarshini)

From the year 2011, the Ministry is administering IFAD assisted pilot project namely Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Programme in the Mid-Gangetic Plains (Priyadarshini) in 13 blocks spread over five districts in Uttar Pradesh and two districts in Bihar. The Programme aims at holistic empowerment (economic and social) of vulnerable groups of women and adolescent girls in the project area through formation of women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) and promotion of improved livelihood opportunities. Over 1,00,000 households are to be covered under the project and 7,200 SHGs will be formed during the project period ending 2016–17. Though the focus of project is on livelihood enhancement, the beneficiaries will be empowered to address their political, legal and health problems issues through rigorous capacity building.

National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) is the lead programme agency for the implementation through engagement of Resource NGOs and Field NGOs (FNGOs). FNGOs are envisaged to carry out all field level activities, whereas a Resource NGO (RNGO) has been envisioned to undertake activities relating to specialised capacity building and provide other technical support to all field level project functionaries to ensure effective implementation of the programme. The programme envisages giving training to the SHG members on topics such as income generation and allied activities, marketing of products and social issues, etc.

6. Swadhar (Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)

Swadhar (Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances) was launched by the Ministry during the year 2001-02 for the benefit of women in difficult circumstances with the following objectives:

  1. To provide primary need of shelter, food, clothing and care to the marginalised women/girls living in difficult circumstances who are without any social and economic support;
  2. To provide emotional support and counselling to rehabilitate them socially and economically
    through education, awareness etc.;
  3. To arrange for specific clinical, legal and other support for women/girls in need; and
  4. To provide for help line or other facilities to such women in distress.

The Target Group/Beneficiaries under the scheme include the following:

  1. Widows deserted by their families and relatives;
  2. Women prisoners released from jail and without family support;
  3. Women survivors of natural disaster who have been rendered homeless;
  4. Trafficked women/girls rescued or runaway from brothels;
  5. Women victims of terrorist/extremist violence who are without any family support and without any economic means for survival;
  6. Mentally challenged women (except for the psychotic categories who require care in specialised environment in mental hospitals) who are without any support of family or relatives;
  7. Women with HIV/AIDS deserted by their family and without social/economic support.

The Swadhar scheme is being implemented through Social Welfare/Women and Child Welfare Department of State Government, Women’s Development Corporations, Urban Local Bodies, reputed Public/Private Trust or Voluntary Organisations.

7. Scheme for Combating Trafficking

“Ujjawala”, a comprehensive scheme to combat trafficking was launched by the Ministry in the year 2007 and is being implemented mainly through NGOs. The Scheme has five components – Prevention, Rescue, Rehabilitation, Re-Integration and Repatriation of trafficked victims for commercial sexual exploitation.

The activities envisaged under the Scheme for combating trafficking are:

  1. Formation of community vigilance groups, adolescents groups, awareness creation and preparation of IEC material, holding workshops, etc.
  2. Safe withdrawal of victims from the place of exploitation.
  3. Rehabilitation of victims by providing them safe shelter, basic amenities, medical care, legal aid, vocational training and income generation activities.
  4. Re-integration of victims into society.
  5. Provide support to cross-border victims for their safe repatriation to their country of origin.

Under the Scheme, assistance is provided to eligible organisations for undertaking the above activities.

8. Family Counselling Centers (FCCs)

The Family Counselling Centre programme was introduced in 1983 due to increasing violence against women specially dowry related cases. The centres provide counseling, referral and rehabilitative services to women and girls who are victims of atrocities, family maladjustments and social ostracism.

Through the centres, crisis intervention and trauma counselling is also provided in case of natural or manmade disasters. Public opinion on social issues affecting status of women is mobilised through this programme and awareness is created on welfare and development schemes being implemented by the Government.

The Counselling Centres work in close collaboration with the local administration, police, courts, free legal aids cells, medical and psychiatric institutions, vocational training centers, short stay homes etc.

9. Short Stay Home Programme

The objective of the Short Stay Homes programme is to rehabilitate women and girls who are facing social, economical and emotional setback due to family problem, exploitations, violence or being forced into prostitution.

Under Short Stay Home programme, temporary shelter to women and girls, medical care, counseling, occupational therapy, education and vocational training is provided according to the requirements of the inmates. The period of stay normally extends from six months to three years.

Under the programme, meetings have been held all over India with the functionaries of the voluntary organisations and rehabilitation officers for capacity building and improved networking so that the inmates are made self-reliant and can join the mainstream.

10. Awareness Generation Programme (AGP)

The Awareness Generation Programme (AGP) Scheme aims to empower women by providing knowledge on issues ranging from health/nutrition to constitutional rights by providing information through organising awareness generation camp and to ensure their participation in development process and decision making. The scheme was reformulated in 1986-87.

Under the AGP scheme, camps are organised throughout the country which provide a platform for women to come together to exchange their experiences and their ideas. Its main aim is to identify the needs of rural and poor women and to increase women’s active participation in development and other allied programmes. Issues such as status of women, women & law, women & health, community health and hygiene, technology for women, environment and economy are being taken up in the camps with special focus on local burning issues/problems like female foeticide, domestic violence, trafficking, drug addiction and low sex ratio, etc.

11. Condensed Courses of Education for Adult Women (CCE)

The scheme of Condensed Courses of Education for Adult Women (CCE) was initiated by CSWB to cater to the needs of adult girls/women who were drop outs from formal schools.

The main focus of the scheme is to ensure that contents of the course are need based and modified according to local requirement and simultaneously targeting various stages of educational levels of middle/high school and matric/secondary level courses for adult girls/women above the age of 15 years who could not join mainstream education.

12. Integrated Scheme for Women’s Empowerment (ISWE)

The Integrated Scheme for Women’s Empowerment is a pilot project for North East, designed to address the socio-economic need of the region for empowerment of women and development of children with the following objectives:

  1. Mobilising community action.
  2. Converging available services and resources in the area.
  3. To address the felt needs of the area.
  4. Income Generation through feasible and sustainable activities for women.
  5. Provide support services for health awareness, Career Counseling Centers, vocational
    training to prevent child trafficking, drug de-addiction.

The project is being implemented in three phases. A State Level Committee is formed in all the States with representatives from State Government Departments, social workers, local leaders and respective State Boards. The committee identifies and adopts the most backward districts of the State and also a Mother NGO having a good track record, adequate infrastructure and experience from the concerned area for implementation of the project. Motivational camps are conducted in identified areas in the States culminating into formation of Community Based Groups (CBG). The groups democratically decide the activity to be undertaken by them.

13. Gender Budgeting Scheme (GBS)

Gender Budgeting Scheme is not an accounting exercise but an ongoing process to ensure that benefits of development reach women as much as men. It entails maintaining a gender perspective at various stages like programme/policy formulation, assessment of needs of target groups, review of existing policies and guidelines, allocation of resources, implementation of programmes, impact assessment, reprioritisation of resources, etc. A gender responsive budget is the culmination of this process.
Gender Budgeting involves dissection of the Government budget to establish its gender-differential impacts and to translate gender commitments into budgetary commitments. It does not seek to create a separate budget but to provide affirmative action to address the specific needs of women. It goes beyond allocation of resources for women, to cover tracking the utilisation of allocated resources, impact analysis and beneficiary incidence analysis of public expenditure and policy from a gender perspective.

To institutionalise Gender Budgeting in India, the setting up of Gender Budgeting Cells (GBCs) in all Ministries/Departments was mandated by the Ministry of Finance in 2004-05.
In 2004-05, the Ministry of Women and Child Development adopted “Budgeting for Gender Equity” as a Mission Statement. The Ministry as the nodal agency for Gender Budgeting has been undertaking several initiatives for taking it forward at the National and State levels. The Ministry has been following a three-pronged strategy to pursue the process of Gender Budgeting in the country:

  1. Placing emphasis on and advocating for setting up of gender budgeting structures/mechanisms in all Ministries/Departments of the Government;
  2. Strengthening internal and external capacities and building expertise to undertake gender mainstreaming of policies/schemes/programmes; and
  3. Initiating the exercise of gender auditing of existing programmes, which would then feed into addressing gaps and strengthening service delivery mechanisms.

A Plan Scheme for Gender Budgeting was launched in the year 2008 during the Eleventh Plan period, for conducting trainings/workshops, capacity building, research surveys, etc. Under the Scheme, inter alia, the Ministry undertakes many programmes as well as provides financial support to Central/State Government agencies, for the purpose. This scheme is being continued in the Twelfth five year plan.

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