Scheme to raise awareness among minority women

September 7th, 2008 - 1:49 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) India’s Planning Commission is starting a scheme to create awareness among minority women about issues and rights that can empower them socially, educationally and economically, and also teach them the importance of hygiene and sanitation.To be implemented over the next five years with the help of the ministry women and child development, the scheme will cost Rs.200 million (Rs. 20 crores).

“We hope to launch the scheme soon. The ministry of women and child development is working out the details,” Syeda Hameed, member of the Planning Commission, told IANS. The scheme will be implemented with the help of NGOs.

“Women need to be told about certain good things like why they should send their children to schools and how health is important and where one can get health facilities,” said Hameed.

The government has recently estimated that the literacy rate among Muslim women is as low as 21 percent.

“There are no two opinions about the high degree of backwardness among Muslim women. They have been doubly discriminated. Muslim women do not even question their status,” said Hameed.

“A lot needs to be done for the overall empowerment of Indian Muslim women in particular,” she said.

Former MP Subhashini Ali agreed. “Muslim women are faced with a huge problem of inequality and discrimination,” she said.

“How to bring them on a par with others continues to be a major concern. The government has a major responsibility to address their problems,” added Ali, the president of the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), the women’s wing of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).

AIDWA’s national convention of Muslim women held here Aug 27 had sought among other things equal economic, educational, employment, health and citizenship rights for these women.

India’s 2001 census says Muslims account for 13.4 percent of the country’s over one billion population, while Christians and Sikhs are respectively 2.3 percent and 1.9 percent.

Subrato Mukherjee, a professor of political science in Delhi University, told IANS: “Real empowerment and leadership development will be possible only when Muslim women are equipped with education and basic skills.”

“The government should train and provide them with reasonable employment, and the spillover benefits will lead to the development of real leadership. It has to be done at a large scale,” he added.

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