A place for all refugees under India’s welfare umbrella

Source– The post is based on the article “A place for all refugees under India’s welfare umbrella” published in The Hindu on 20th November 2022.

Syllabus: GS2- Mechanisms for protection of vulnerable sections. GS2- International relations

Relevance: Protection of women refugees

News- The article explains the need for protection of women refugees especially in the context of India. It also explains the steps taken by India for women empowerment and protection.

Why is there a need for global protection for women?

There is global increase in reported domestic violence, child marriage, trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse.

The coup in Myanmar, a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have each underscored the fact that women bear a disproportionate burden in conflict,

COVID-19 has further exacerbated the situation. Important markers in gender equality and the protection of civilians have been reversed in many countries.

What are initiatives by India for women empowerment?

Indian women received universal suffrage during India’s independence in 1947. During the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, India was instrumental in ensuring that gender sensitive norms were respected.

India has also ratified key international conventions to end discrimination against women which include the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Women in India continue to make progress in politics, science, business, medicine, sports and agriculture. Women have overcome “the glass ceiling” in the armed forces. Today, India has the largest number of women in the United Nations peacekeeping forces.

The central and State governments have launched new schemes, policies and programmes for women empowerment.

Marginalised populations, such as refugees, have access to protection and assistance services. The ‘Nari Shakti for New India’ campaign represents the aspirations of millions of women in India.

What is the case of refugees in India?

There are over 212000 refugees in India including those supported by the Government of India. More than half of whom are women and girls.

India ensures that refugees can access protection services at par with their fellow Indian citizens. Refugees registered directly by the Government are entitled to Aadhaar cards and PAN cards to enable their economic and financial inclusion. They can have access to national welfare schemes and contribute effectively to the Indian economy.

Refugees registered with the UNHCR  have access to protection and limited assistance services. But they do not possess government-issued documentation. Thus, they are unable to open bank accounts, benefit from all government welfare schemes.

There is a need to include all refugees in existing national welfare and economic schemes regardless of their legal status. It will ensure India’s commitment to women empowerment and protection.

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