An engineering graduate who gave up her job for social work, 30-year-old Swati Maliwal finally took charge of the Delhi Commission for Women on Tuesday. Maliwal talks to HT about her plans to make the panel more effective. Excerpts from an interview:
What do think about the functioning of DCW so far?
I don’t have to comment on previous commissions. You can ask anybody… It was like a very part-time kind of thing. The member’s work is in any case part-time but the chairperson was full time. But I was told that my predecessor (Barkha Singh) hardly came to the DCW office. There have been no commissions, no studies, and no visits. When we saw the list of the visits, nobody had actually even gone to GB Road. Just once they visited Tihar. This is not our vision for DCW. We are going to make these visits again and again till our recommendations are complied with.
What are your priorities?
We want to make Delhi so safe that no woman feels scared while moving out even after midnight. We have zero tolerance for rapes, sexual harassment and acid attacks and will work towards eradicating them. Issues concerning women working in red light areas, disabled women and women on streets are on our priority.
We are creating a list of all those undertrial women in Tihar who have completed their terms but are still in jail and will be working for them.
What changes are you planning in the functioning of DCW?
We will open our website to people so that anyone can give their feedback on issues, policies and functioning of the commission... We will also speak to field experts to include the best practices.
A confrontation erupted between the government and L-G after your nomination.
I do not look back. I am not here to do politics but work on issues concerning women. DCW will work in coordination with Centre, state government, L-G and the police.
Will DCW take up cases against AAP leaders Kumar Vishwas and Somnath Bharti?
I have found out the cases were closed by the previous commission. However, if the complainants approach DCW again, we will look into the issue.
How do you view the objections raised against your selection as you are AAP leader Naveen Jaihind’s wife?
It reflects the patriarchal mindset of people. We talk about women empowerment but when a woman is chosen based on merit why do we only talk about her identity in relation to her husband, father or brother.
I am married to him but that is not my only identity. I have been working in social sector and for women empowerment for the last 10 years.