In this eighth article, we analyze the steps taken for ensuring women empowerment and safety in Maharashtra. Stable law and order is crucial for the development of any state. We see that some steps have been taken to achieve women empowerment.
Promise– In last 15 years, Maharashtra has become the most unsafe state for women. Concrete steps will be taken to eradicate crimes against women and cleanse the tarnished image of Maharashtra. Making Maharashtra safe for women once again will be our topmost priority. We have an integral approach to ensuring women’s safety, which includes police stations with all-women staff, women’s courts and fast-track courts for ensuring speedy justice in cases related to crimes against women.
The crimes against women have increased in Maharashtra, like the trend all over India. However, some efforts have been made, and older schemes have been diligently executed to ensure safety of women.
The central Women and Child Development ministry has proposed to setup 1023 fast track courts all over India, some of which are in Maharashtra.
Also, Maharashtra may not have all-women police stations but Maharashtra had the distinction of having the highest number of female cops in the country, the trend that continued after 2014 as well.
Overall, the Women Empowerment Index that was deduced from the two National Family Health Surveys in 2005-6 and 2015-16 show that Maharashtra has improved on women empowerment.
Promise– Jijau hostels with modern amenities at Taluka (block) level for college-going female students will be set up.
Under the central scheme of “Construction & Running of Girls’ Hostel for Students of Secondary and Higher Secondary Schools”, 43 such hostels have been set up in each of the 43 Educationally Backward Blocks that have been identified.
Promise– Monthly pension scheme Mahercha Aadhar will be introduced for homemakers (housewives) above the age of 60 years.
No such scheme has been introduced till date.
Promise– Hostels for working women will be set up in every district.
There has been considerable expenditure on setting up hostels for working women. Maharashtra’s economic survey reveals that in 2013-14, Rs 6.72 crore were spent on women’s hostels benefitting 1,362 women. In 2018-19, the same increased to 3,504 beneficiaries with spending of 11.98 crores.
Promise– Support centers for destitute, widows, and single women will be set up in every district.
The Swadhar scheme of the central government houses destitute, single and widowed women and takes care of them. As on 2018-19, 28 such Swadhar homes are functioning.
Promise– A new law will be introduced granting automatic bail for juveniles and women involved in any crime, if the trial proceeding doesn’t start within one year.
Owing to the comprehensive legislation of the center through the Juvenile Justice Amendment Act 2015, no state has passed any specific laws with respect to juvenile crimes.
Promise– The procedures of lodging a police complaint and procuring medical reports will be made error-free, harassment-free and simple which will help to increase prosecution rate in the cases of sexual crimes against women.
Detailed guidelines have been issued in 2015 about medico-legal procedures for victims of sexual violence. It involves less stringent and fast filing of cases, non-intrusive medical tests, etc.
Promise– The concept of women’s safety audit will be promoted across the state.
Even though a statewide policy is not present, baby steps have been taken. In 2017, two NGOs conducted a women’s safety audit for Mumbai.
Apart from the above measures, we also note that-
- Women SHG have increased in the state. From 69,570 in 2013-14, they are now at 1,26,408. The membership has also seen improvement from 9,19,936 women in 2013-14 to 14,97,478 women in 2018-19
- Maharashtra has seen a substantial fall in maternal mortality rate. It was 87 per one lakh live births in 2010-12 interval which was reduced to 61 in 2014-16 interval
- Under the PM Ujjwala Yojana, 44,37,624 LPG connections have been released till date ensuring smokeless kitchens for the women.
- The impact of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has been that the sex ratio at birth has increased. In 2013, it was 900. In 2018 it is 916.
Overall, a lot can be done in the field of women empowerment even though the current success is no less praiseworthy.