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Dr. Mohini Giri and the National Women Organization Meet with Mrs. Ghandi to Ensure Women's Rights in India

The highest priority in all activity is the empowerment of women. Women bear primary responsibility for family health, education and nutrition-yet, by tradition, culture and law they are denied the means, information and freedom of action to fulfill their responsibility.

In order to mobilize and implement the various schemes some of us in the National Women Organization met Mrs. Gandhi to include the following in the Common Minimum Program.

  1. A firm commitment to the passage of and implementation of the Women's Reservation Bill.
  2. Commitment to the passage of Protection against Domestic Violence Bill with the amendments suggested by the women's organization and implementation of the various recommendations of the Law. Commission to reform laws concerning women.
  3. Universalisation of PDS; Joint Pattas for women in land distributed and special work scheme for poor women in rural and urban areas.
  4. Implementation of the non coercive non targeted national population policy as opposed to the coercive anti woman policies in place in many states and strict implementation of the laws against sex selection and sex determination techniques and tests.
  5. Commitment against the practice of dowry
  6. To strenthan the Panchyati Raj.

You would happy to know that the text of the Common Minimum Program, which the new Government has implemented is as follows:

Panchayati Raj

The UPA Government will ensure that all funds given to States for poverty alleviation and rural development schemes by panchyats are neither delayed nor diverted. Monitoring will be strict. In addition, after consultation with States, the UPA Government will consider crediting elected panchayats such funds directly.

Devolution of funds will be accompanied by similar devolution of function and functionaries as well. Regular elections to panchayat bodies will be ensured and the amended Act in respect of the Fifth and Sixth Schedule Areas will be implemented.

The UPA Government will ensure that the Gram Sabha is empowered to emerge as the foundation of Panchyati Raj.

Women and Children

The UPA Government will take the lead to introduce legislation for one-third reservation for women in Vidhan Sabhas and in the Lok Sabha. Legislation on domestic violence and against gender discrimination will be enacted.

The UPA Government will ensure that at least one-third of all funds flowing into panchayats will be earmarked for programmes for the development of women and children. Village women and their associations will be encouraged to assume responsibilities for all development schemes relating to drinking water, sanitation, primary education, health and nutrition.

Complete legal equality for women in all spheres will be made a practical reality, especially by removing discriminatory legislation and by enacting new legislation that gives women, for instance, equal rights of ownership of assets like house and land.

The UPA Government will bring about a major expansion in schemes for micro- finance based on self-help groups, particularly in the backward and ecologically fragile areas of the country.

The UPA Government is committed to replicating all over the country the success that some southern and other States have had in family planning. A sharply targeted population control programme will be launched in the 150-odd high-fertility districts. The UPA Government recognizes that States that achieve success in family planning cannot be penalised. The UPA Government will protect the rights of children, strive for the elimination of child labour, ensure facilities for schooling and special care to the girl child.

Food and Nutrition Security

The UPA will work out, in the next three months, a comprehensive medium- term strategy for food and nutrition security. The objective will be to move towards universal food security over time, if found feasible.

The UPA Government will strengthen the Public Distribution System (PDS), particularly in the poorest and backward blocks of the country, and also involve women's and ex-servicemen's cooperatives in its management. Special schemes to reach food grains to the most destitute and infirm will be launched. Grain banks in chronically food-scarce areas will be established. Antyodaya cards for all households at risk of hunger will be introduced.

The UPA Government will bring about major improvements in the functioning of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) to control inefficiencies that increase the food subsidy burden.

Nutrition programmes, particularly for the girl child, will be expanded on a significant scale.

I am sending this to you, to ascertain the major work of the Hunger Project.

With best regards,

Dr. V. Mohini Giri


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