HIMANSHI DHAWAN IN THE TIMES OF INDIA
NEW DELHI: At a time when crime against women is steadily increasing and there is evidence of continued marginalization of women, the government is setting up a high level expert committee to report the socio-economic, political and legal status of women in India and evaluate the impact of government schemes. The committee – to be notified shortly – will be headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Ruma Pal. The 15-member panel will examine the overall status of women including the socio-economic, health and nutritional, legal and political status disaggregated by rural and urban populations, economic and social position. The analysis is expected to take into account cross-regional differences and focus on inequalities both within and outside the household.
It will also assess the impact made by existing policies and legislative changes on equality, security and holistic empowerment of women and will identify inequalities in policy and legislation a well as gaps in implementation. Incidentally, the last comprehensive status report was done three decades ago. Elaborating on the issue, women and child development minister Krishna Tirath said, “We wanted to verify how far legislations and polices have impacted women in India and the new challenges faced by women.”
Among the members who will be part of this panel are senior academicians, women’s rights activists, economists and women representing minorities and other disadvantaged groups. The committee is expected to conduct an intensive survey of literature and take stock of published data, reports, articles and research. The panel will have a two-year tenure but is expected to bring out background papers and working reports before the final report.
A day after PM Manmohan Singh flagged the issue of low participation of women in the labour force, the committee has been tasked with improving women’s access to and participation in formal and informal paid employment, the assets and income levels that they own besides the access to control of land and property. The societal attitude to women that have reflected in declining sex ratios in different age groups, customary practices like child marriage and dowry will also be addressed along with the impact of current legislation. The focus will be access to law, women’s inability to use laws effectively and sensitivity of law enforcement agencies as well as judiciary. The committee has been tasked to identify areas of intervention and recommend measures for affirmative action by the government for the holistic empowerment of women.