How India is empowering women through policy 

Context: The union government has brought into reality the maxim of sarvajana hitaya, sarvajana sukhaya (for the good of all, for the happiness of all), especially in the context of the women section of society. 

Measures taken by the government

The incumbent government has adopted a system-wide gendered lens to inform policy praxis.

The government has worked to elevate the social status of women. Women have been recognised as the head of the household in the ration cards under the NFSA 2013, and to secure benefits under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) and Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY).

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PM-JAY) makes a household without any adult male members eligible for the scheme, removes the cap of five beneficiaries per family that penalised women in larger families and it extends substantial number of health benefits packages that are women-centric in nature.

The government is challenging the unequal status quo and nurturing nari shakti by placing assets such as houses and LPGs in the hands of women. 

How has the government worked in this direction?  

The government has worked to bridge gendered data deficits. The statistical architecture of the nation has been rebuilt to count women. New gender sensitive data provided gender sensitive inputs in the policy discourse in India. This provides a scaffolding for resource allocation for policy-making. 

First, the first nationwide Time Use Survey (TUS) 2019 has recognized the unpaid work of women devoted to caregiving and domestic services (7.2 hours a day) against the average Indian man’s 2.8 hours 

Second, the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has undergone comprehensive, methodological renovation. Further, the NFHS-4 and 5 provided crucial information on nutrition, fertility, family planning, reproductive, maternal and child health and mortality parameters. 

Third, the government has launched the annual Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). This encompasses timely gender-disaggregated labour force statistics such as Female Worker Population Ratio, Female Labour Force Participation Rate and Female Unemployment Rate etc. 

Fourth, The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) collected data on female foeticide in 2014. Thereafter, the government launched Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. 

Way Forward 

Quantification is a step towards resolution and rectification. The government should continue to generate a plethora of gender-disaggregated data. This can be generated through either implementation-related statistics or through surveys. They would be used to inform or reform schemes. 

The individuals and groups in academia, research and evaluation consultancies should conduct audits and third-party assessments of such data. 

Source: The post is based on an article “How India is empowering women through policy” published in the Indian Express on 10th May 2022. 

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