India sees women as agents of socio-economic growth

October 15th, 2008 - 10:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, Oct 15 (IANS) India has shifted focus from mere empowerment of women to recognising them as agents of sustained socio-economic growth and change, a member of an Indian delegation told the UN during a discussion on Advancement of Women.”Gender has been made a cross-cutting theme in India’s 11th Five-Year Plan (2007-12), not confined to a single chapter on Women and Children,” Arjun Charan Sethi, an MP, said Tuesday while taking part in the debate on the implementation of the outcome of the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995 and the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly in 2000.

The five-year plan aims to guarantee the rights and entitlements of all women, and has recognised that their requirements differ based on their location within various castes, communities, religions, geographic and development zones, he said.

Detailing other efforts made by India for gender equality, Sethi said the department dealing with women’s affairs since 1985 was made into a full-fledged Ministry in 2005.

Now, one-third of urban and local self-government seats have been reserved for women, thereby giving more than one million women social and political empowerment at the grassroots level. A similar reservation at the parliament level is being pursued by the government, he said.

For socio-economic development of women, the National Rural Employment Guarantee programme was launched in 2006 to provide 100 days in a year assured wage employment to every rural household with at least one-third women beneficiaries.

The scheme has “comfortably achieved its target. In fact, more than 49 percent of the beneficiaries happened to be women”, Sethi said.

To monitor whether women are able to benefit from the policies and programmes instituted for them, he referred to the new system of Gender Budgeting and creation of a database of gender disaggregated information.

Sethi reiterated India’s commitment to attaining the goal of equal rights of men and women everywhere and said, “India will continue to contribute positively to UN efforts to reach out to vulnerable sections, particularly women and children, in conflict and post-conflict societies.”

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