Amartya Sen wrote an article on the issue of gender inequality in the New York Review of Books. In his article, he talked about “more than 100 million missing women” in the world. He coined the term “missing women” to highlight women who died due to a lack of medical care and social services. He estimates the “missing women” by calculating the proportions of extra women who would have survived based on the ratio of women to men in other regions of the world where they receive similar care.
The United Nations Population Fund found that out of 142 million missing women in the world, 46 million come from India. Hence, there is an immediate need to bridge the gap of gender inequality in India. Here are three women welfare schemes hoping to eradicate gender inequality in India.
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao can be translated to save the daughter, educate the daughter. This initiative primarily spreads awareness about the current situation of girls in India. It emphasizes the need to educate young girls. Furthermore, the mass communication campaign highlighted education as a tool for women’s empowerment. India’s child sex ratio (CSR), the number of females per 1,000 males from 0-6 years of age, is abysmally low. India’s 2011 Census reported the CSR was 918 girls per 1,000 boys. Female infanticide is a grave cause of concern in India and has contributed to a low CSR.
The objectives of the scheme include ensuring the survival and protection of female children and eliminating gender-biased sex selection. Thus, a major component of the initiative is a multi-sectoral action in 100 districts with the most adverse CSR.
One Stop Centre (OSC) Scheme
Ministry of Women and Child Development launched the One Stop Centre (OSC) Scheme in 2015 to improve the predicament of gender-based violence (GBV) prevalent in India. The objective of the scheme is “to support women affected by violence in private and public spaces.”
Under this scheme, women who have endured any kind of gender-based violence such as “attempted sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking, honor-related crimes, acid attacks or witch-hunting” would be provided with specialized services.
Women belonging to any “age, class, caste, education or marital status, race and culture” can seek redressal. Additionally, they integrated this with access to women’s helpline and the ability to seek important services. Those services include emergency response and rescue, medical assistance, psychological and emotional support and shelter.
The Ujjawala Scheme is a “comprehensive scheme for prevention of trafficking and rescue, rehabilitation and reintegration of victims of trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation.” The National Crime Records Bureau found that Mumbai and Kolkata had the highest number of women and children trafficked in India in 2020.
Trafficking violates the human rights of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation. The most vulnerable to exploitation are women who are poverty-stricken and do not have access to a protective environment. Therefore, this scheme aims to prevent trafficking through “social mobilization,” getting women to safety and ensuring rehabilitation. It provides them necessities such as “shelter, food, clothing, medical treatment, including counseling, legal aid and guidance and vocational training.” The scheme also ensures that victims are reintegrated into society.
The persistence of gender inequality in India demands the country implement these schemes properly. Therefore, to ensure the upliftment of women in society, these affirmative policies favoring women is a way forward to achieve the fifth Sustainable Development Goal of Gender Equality.
– Anandita Bardia