The marriages were sponsored by Lions Club New Delhi, Bengali Market and Ganges International Pvt Ltd The couples were given essential items and the wedding attire to start their life.
National Commission for Women: mandate, challenges and way forward
Brainstorming session: 21st June2017 Conference Room II,
India International Centre
Organized by : The Guild of Service
This year the National Commission for Women (NCW) is twenty-five years old and has matured into a significant entity, ready for an even more meaningful role in the lives of the Indian women. The Guild in partnership with UN Women and the India International Centre organized a brain storming session on the role of the Commission. The time was opportune and right to retrospect on the manifold successes of the Commission and the perceived gap between aspirations and implementation. In the course of the discussion many dimensions of the commission's role were explored in an effort to review, reinvent and rejuvenate it.
The session was enriched by the views of three Ex Chairs of the Commission: Dr Mohini Giri, Dr Poornima Advani and Ms Girija Vyas. The present Chairperson Ms Laitha Kumaramanglam despite being unwell joined through Skype. The discussions were enlightening as Dr Syeda Hameed former Member Planning Commission and NCW, Ms. Rebecca Tavares from UN Women, Ms Padma Seth, Shamina Shafique, former members of NCW, Ms. Zohra Chatterjee, Ms Beenu Sen, former Member Secretaries NCW, Ms Sujaya Krishnan former Joint Secretary Family Health and Welfare, Ms .Firoza Mehrotra, gender specialist UNFPA, Mr Sudhir Verma, former Secretary, WCD Rajasthan and a host of eminent social activists put forth their views and experiences.
The floor agreed that NCW was a vital and essential body for the protection of women's rights and there was a need to give it legislative and institutional strength as well as political and financial autonomy. The NCW should be at par in status with NHRC, National Commission for Minorities and National Commission for SC/ST. Despite being a statutory body it has become an instrument for looking into cases of violence against women, with limited powers over the police and magistrates, and a counseling center. The NCW Act has inherent weaknesses in that it it is vague and and does not give specific powers for implementation of the mandate. Nor does it give any directive to state governments to constitute a State Commission for Women. The need to define women's rights, to strengthen the letter of the law and to legislate the strength of the NCW by vesting it with punitive powers on the lines of other Commissions/ Tribunals was felt.
In the course of brainstorming it emerged that Parliament did not spend adequate time on women's issues and reports submitted by the NCW were not taken into cognizance. The Act mandates an action taken report, however there is no mechanism to ensure that recommendations are taken up and discussed within an appropriate time frame. Further , even though the NCW is an autonomous body, yet the Ministry of Women & Child Development, by virtue of its administrative and financial powers subordinates NCW in terms of its dependence on the government for staff requirements and financial grants. Time spent in convincing bureaucrats on the need and efficacy of programs and interventions is far too much, thus hampering the efficacy and performance of the commission. It was felt that directt budgetary allocation from the Finance Ministry was a must to maintain the autonomy.
Since a major chunk of the Commission's work is the cases of human right violations and contravention of the law, and these are are largely due to the prevalent social mindset; it was suggested that the cases themselves can be a catalyst for review of policies/programs and laws. It is vital for the Commission to tap the reservoir of knowledge and expertise through expert committees. There should be a Coordination Committee under the Chairperson with representatives from various Ministries MWCD, HRD, Home Rural Development, Poverty Alleviation, Health and Family Planning, Land resources etc which may meet quarterly. It should be responsible for implementing the decisions of the Commission.
The attendees expressed their dissatisfaction with the natures of the selection of the members of the Commission and its Secretary. The Secretary especially should be one who was committed to the cause and was one who could facilitate the work of Commission with governmental agencies. They suggested there be more transparency and inclusiveness from all political parties, activists and experts from different fields and various states.
In conclusion it was decided that a from the Concept paper and the discussions drafting committee will work on
documents which can be taken up with the appropriate authorities
Recommendations will be
Short term: NCW alongwith inputs from civil society organisations can create rules within the ambit of the law
Identify what can be done within the Act which is not being done. Identify clauses that can be interpreted to enhance the strength of the Commission
Long term: Review and amend the Act.