Sunday, January 24, 2010

[ZESTCaste] 'Dignified living for every girl'

'Dignified living for every girl'
24 January 2010, 02:49am IST

What are your priorities?
My topmost priority is to reduce gender disparities in our society.
Planned approach to Gender Development is my key target. Our
government has committed holistic development and growth of women and
children. The Common Minimum Programme has highlighted our goals.
Within the framework of the Common Minimum Programme, I have
prioritised our focus on poverty reduction, gender justice, women's
health, child nutrition, sustained awareness of rights and redressal,
eradication of social evils.

What are your immediate goals?

To implement a national mission for socio economic development of
women through convergence of inter- ministerial, inter-departmental
schemes. To provide the village women, a single window service
delivery scheme. To facilitate widows, single women, household women
and destitutes with attractive incentives for growth and development.
To reduce implementation bottlenecks at the grass root. To provide
village women access to central schemes.

What are your action plans for undernourished mothers and children?

Two new schemes are going to come up. One scheme is called Sabla, for
growth and development of the adolescent girls. The Sabla, dedicated
to late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, will support the underweight
adolescent girls. The other scheme is for undernourished mothers,
dedicated to Indira Gandhi. The scheme is called Indira Gandhi
Matritva Sahoyog Yojna. This scheme will provide conditional cash
transfers to the poorest of the poor pregnant and lactating mothers.

How do you plan to eradicate discrimination against dalit women?

The discrimination against dalit can be curbed by sustained awareness
of human rights. The Constitution of India has guaranteed equality to
every citizen. I am planning a door-to-door awareness campaign to
empower our fellow citizens, on the subject of equal opportunities.
Also a campaign among the elected panchayat leaders, on this subject.
If panchayat leaders can be motivated to prevent atrocities against
dalit women, there will be a remarkable change. I am planning to
empower economically deprived landless women and marginalised
agricultural labourers, majority of this group is dalit. My ministry
will support the gender budget for development of dalit women.

How do you visualise the ICDS programme in near future?

The ICDS is the only flagship scheme of my ministry. Therefore,
highest priority has been accorded to this scheme. In 1975, prime
minister Indira Gandhi launched this programme to provide food
supplements to hungry children. Today, the National Rural Health
Mission, the Sarva Siksha Abiyan often use the Anganwadi Centres as
convergence points. Over the years, the scheme has contributed
immensely for the growth of the under-fed children at the grass root.
We are trying to establish Anganwadi Centres at every habitat. The
number is going to be 14 lakhs soon.

Your views on the ICDS centres...

The quality and quantity of food will improve when meals are cooked by
mothers and communities in a public service mode. I am considering the
regularisation of services of the Anganwadi workers, examining pros
and cons of NGO participation in monitoring and development of
Anganwadis. Today, ICDS needs advocacy support of communities and
community based NGOs. The community mobilisation at the grassroot
level will bring in change, accountability, innovation and
transparency in the functioning of the Anganwadis. We need to go for
PPP approach to improve our services.

How do you plan to tackle violence against women?

I had initiated a volunteer action programme for communities on
October 2, 2009. Under this programme, community members can volunteer
to be peace messengers. I have also launched a campaign viz. Daughters
Against Dowry. Under this programme, daughters' groups have been
organised to stand firmly against commercialisation of marriage. In
addition, I am reviewing all the legislations that protect women's
rights. Very soon, we will initiate a step to strengthen various laws,
meant for women. I am calling upon household women, to join me in the
ahimsa messenger campaign in communities.

Plans to improve the shelter facilities and rehabilitative services for women?

Shelter services are provided under Swadhar Scheme and Short Stay
Homes. I am planning to make a universal code of rehabilitation in our
country. There will be national protocols, guidelines and handbook of
shelter services soon. Non-conforming centres will be penalised and
de-barred to act as rehabilitation centres. I am also planning a
"Tatkal" and "Ati Tatkal Service" for release of grant in aid to the
voluntary organisations. The NGOs need support, aid, technical
expertise. It is my aim to reform the present system and provide a
fasttrack, single window project clearance system for NGOs so that
inter-departmental delays can be reduced and complicated processes can
be simplified.

What is your Mission Statement in a single line?

A dignified living for every girl.

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