WOMEN FROM across the State on Sunday clamoured for empowerment. Speaker and speaker made an impassioned plea to end discrimination, demanding fair deal, safety and right to dignified and healthy life for them and their children at a Mahila Panchayat.
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who sat through the session to listen to the 60-odd speakers, announced a slew of steps — introduction of gender budgeting from the next financial year, increasing reservation for women in local bodies to 50 per cent, special womenn’s complaints desk at select police stations, helpline and free legal advice for women, strict action on PNDT Act violators and so on. (See box)
Chouhan said the main policy decisions would be guided by recommendations of a committee that will going through the suggestions made at the panchayat. Around 700 women participated in the panchayat organised by the Department of Women and Child Development at Ravindra Bhavan.
The opinions and suggestions regarding schemes and plans related to women and children will help the government bring about amendments in the women’s policy.
Besides the CM, Women and Child Development Minister Kusum Mehdale, her deputy Meena Singh, Principal Secretary Prashant Mehta and Commissioner, WCD, Kalpana Shrivastava were glued to the spekers.
The gathering included representatives of panchyat paj institutions, chief functionaries of SHG groups, anganwadi workers and so on.
Chouhan, while opening the panchayat, said his government sought to involve the people concerned in the policy-making process.
WCD Minister Kusum Mehedale spoke about schemes, including the proposed Yashaswini Balika Suraksha. WCD Principal Secretary Prashant Mehta sought more suggestions to improve the schemes.
The floor was then opened to common women who spoke in large numbers. Women from districts like Rewa and Khargone said they were not being benefited by schemes like Janani Suraksha, BPL Yellow Card and Ayushmati Yojana.
Champa Behan, who works among Bedia community in Sagar district, also gave suggestions regarding educational rehabilitation of the children of bedias (who traditionally work as prostitutes).
Issues of girls not getting WCD Minister Kusum Mehedale spoke about some of the government schemes including the proposed Yashaswini Balika Suraksha Scheme. WCD Principal Secretary Prashant Mehta made a presentation on various schemes of the department and urged the participants to come up with suggestions for changes or betterment in the schemes.
The floor was then opened to common women, who volunteered in large numbers to speak on various issues. While the department had identified some of the women to speak on certain schemes, majority of them spoke extempore and from their hearts.
Women from districts like Rewa and Khargone said they were not getting benefits of schemes like Janani Suraksha, BPL Yellow Card and Ayushmati Yojana. Issues of girls not getting scholarship benefits as provided by the State and problems in survey of below the poverty line etc also came up for discussion.
Suggestions such as increasing base of existing schemes, training of anganwadi workers, measures to combat alcoholism, strengthening infrastructure of anganwadi centres and exempting teachers from nutrition were also tabled by the participants.
Also, some senior people’s representatives like MP and BJP Mahila Morcha National President Maya Singh, Rajya Sabha member Anusuiya Uike and MP Neeta Pateria raised various pertinent issues while lauding the initiative of the State Government.
Champa Behan, who works among Bedia community in Sagar district, also gave suggestions regarding educational rehabilitation of the children of Bedias (who traditionally work as prostitutes).
The response was so high that the Chief Minister and senior officials had to request the participants to put written suggestions into a suggestion box provided at the venue.