The goals of human development are deeply intertwined with the event and empowerment of girls and children, as they together comprise significant proportion of the total population of the country as per the 2001 Census. Women as an independent group accounted for 495.74 million or 48.3%, whereas children (0-14 years) formed about 34% of the full population. These sections not only constitute the valuable human resources of the country but their socio economic development sets the pace for the growth of the remainder of the economy.

Acknowledging this, the approach to the Tenth Five Year Plan (2002-07) had given priority to the empowerment of these sections through a holistic combination of legal and statutory safeguards and social and economic initiatives. The National Common Minimum Programme also has placed the target of ‘empowering women politically, educationally, economically and legally’ in concert of its six basic principles. The Tenth Plan (2002-07) involved a 3 pronged strategy of social empowerment, economic empowerment and gender justice through creating an environment of positive economic and social policies for the ladies,  allowing de jure and factual enjoyment of all human rights, providing equal access to women to health care, quality education, strengthening the legal systems aimed toward elimination of all sort of discrimination and violence and building and mainstreaming gender perspectives into the

The Ministry of ladies and Child Development (MWCD), Government of India, is that the nodal agency for all matters regarding the welfare, development and empowerment of ladies and kids within the country. In this process, various initiatives, policies, programmes, schemes and enabling measures are evolved for the benefit of these groups covering a good range of areas from gender equality, women and child related legislation to their social and economic rehabilitation. The schemes programmes of the Ministry are implemented mainly with the support of State Governments, other Government agencies and non-governmental organizations. The Department became the Ministry of ladies and Child Development from 30.01.2006 with Smt. Renuka Chowdhury taking on as Minister of State with Independent Charge. Smt. Reva Nayyar continued as Secretary of the Ministry In spite of the constitutional provisions and positive government policies, there are variety of constraints still faced by women and youngsters, especially those belonging to economically and socially disadvantaged sections. The mid term review of the Tenth Plan brought into focus persisting roblems like adverse child sex ratio, high infant and maternal mortality, wide gender gaps in literacy and wage rates, escalating violence against women etc. Other areas of concerns identified included roblems regarding child trafficking, HIV/AIDS positive women, restraining child marriage, protecting girl child domestic labourers. The review recommended universalizing programs like Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), expanding crèches, strengthening the delivery mechanism and assessing the gender impact of all programs. The Ministry has taken note of these recommendations and tried to handle these issues not only through the continuing various polices, programs and schemes, but also through innovative program/ scheme interventions in several sectors. Thus the design, policies, programs and schemes of the MWCD are specially formulated to confirm that the above objectives in terms of social and economic empowerment of ladies and gender justice reach the targeted groups.

The Swa-Shakti project (rural women’s development and empowerment project) was launched in 1999 and was operational till June 2005 as a run with assistance  from United Nations agency and International Fund for Agriculture Development, with specific objective of promotion of socio economic development of girls, strengthening grass root institutions and self help groups with micro credit inputs. A total of 17647 self help groups and 1213 clusters were formed under the programme. The 86th Constitutional Amendment Act 2002, makes free and compulsory education a justiciable fundamental right for all children within the 6-14 year people. This scheme was launched by the Ministry during the year 2001-2002 for providing holistic and integrated services to women in difficult circumstances, such as destitute widows deserted by their families in religious places like Vrindavan and Kashi; women prisoners released from jail and without family support; women survivors of natural disasters who are rendered homeless and are with none social and economic support; trafficked women/girls etc. The scheme provides variety of facilities like food, shelter, medical help, legal aid and clinical counseling. A special facility is Helpline a 24-hour telephone facility (1091-1092) that a girl in distress can access for help. The scheme is implemented through NGOs / Women and Child Development Ministry of State Governments, reputed public/private trusts etc. The number of Swadhar homes being supported are 129 and 124 Helplines are established.

Relief for tsunami and earthquake victims to produce relief and support to tsunami victims, two Swadhar Shelter Homes in Tsunami hit areas of Nagapattinam and Kanyakumari in Madras, for 100 inmates each, were approved. 1. For the primary time RMK organised a Training Course for NGOs of Eastern and North Eastern States at Regional Office NIPCCD Gauwahati from 21st November 2005 to 25th November 2005 where 40 NGO members from States of Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand participated.
2. RMK has also organised Nodal Officer Training Course at NIPCCD, national capital from 28th November & Government Organisations participated.
3. RMK has organized an interaction session on “Role of RMK on Micro-Credit in India” with senior level officers of presidency of Nepal at NIPCCD, New Delhi on 9th January 2006.
4. ED RMK has attended the workshop at Kohima, Nangaland on 30th and 31st January 2006 to debate the issues regarding Prime Minster’s announcement in Nagaland on 27th and 29th October 2003.

Rashtriya Mahila Kosh contains a strategic vision to expand its program uniformly everywhere the country to empower more and more economically poor women of the country during a phased manner. Some initiatives include:
a) to make a distinct segment position as an apex micro-credit institution for meeting micro-credit requirement of poor women. In terms of this position, it’ll advocate for legal frame work for formation and dealing of MFIs
b) To upscale its present loaning operation from Rs. 20 crores to Rs. 40 crores.
c) To diversify its products profile targeting different clients.
d) To introduce innovative Customer friendly credit delivery mechanism.
e) To wider its activities from micro-credit to micro-credit plus i.e. from livelihood financing to micro enterprises and micro insurance.
f) Developing entrepreneurs skills amongst poor women.
g) To still act as bulk credit purveyor and also to encourage the potential small NGOs/VOs etc. to access for his or her retail credit requirement.

Author: Mayank Malhotra,
Student, School of Law, Christ (deemed to be University) DELHI-NCR

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