Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face in both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer. (15 Marks)

Mentors Comments:
  • Mention briefly, the objectives and role of NCW
  • Highlight the issues women face in public and private spheres.
  • Now show the actions taken by NCW in these spheres
  • Comment on where its activity is relevant and give proper examples.
  • Suggest way forwards

Answer:

National Commission for Women is a statutory organization formed in 1992. It is mandated to review the constitutional and legal safeguards for women; recommend remedial legislature measures; facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.

How the National Commission for Women been able to tackle problems faced by women?

  1. Since its inception, the Commission has occupied a considerable space in protecting the rights of weaker section of the population on gender lines.
  2. In the past, it has proposed the amendments to the acts such as IPC, 1860 to curb the sale of minor girls, Hindu Marriage Act 1955 to omit epilepsy as grounds for divorce, Dowry Prohibition Act in order to bring the problems of Dowry deaths into the limelight and deal with them appropriately etc.
  3. It had also proposed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Bill which was passed in 2005.
  4. In recent times, the Commission has adopted the multi-pronged strategy of assisting women in redressal of their grievances, facilitating speedy delivery of justice to women by organising Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats in different parts of the country as well as launching the awareness campaign regarding women’s rights.
  5. NCW was instrumental in the campaign against Triple Talaq and conducted detailed studies about the practice in various nations. It sought to protect women from arbitrary divorces.
  6. NCW has undertaken various steps for the rehabilitation of acid attack victims. It has also recommended legislative and policy initiatives for preventing acid attacks.
  7. NCW has regularly held seminars, research as well as awareness drive. It has also partnered with NGOs and provided them with grants to widen its reach.
  8. NCW has undertaken inspection of jails and promoted the idea of violence-free home. The government should take steps to make the body more independent.
  9. Further, its Research Cell looks into the emerging problems of Indian women due to discrimination and gender bias.

Failure of National Commission for Women to tackle women issues:

  1. There are examples which show that the Commission has not been able to come up to the expectations of women in India. For example, on the other serious issue of use of sexual violence against women by police and army personnel in the highly militarized areas of Jammu and Kashmir, north-east and now Chhattisgarh, there has been a silence on this on the part of the commission.
  2. NCW has been often criticised for its inability to effectively strategise and tackle the problems faced by women at both public and private spheres.
  3. NCW found itself in the midst of controversy for its report on the Mangalore pub attacks. Later, on NCW member involved in the controversy was removed on disciplinary grounds.
  4. NCW’s recommendations regarding section 497 of the Indian Penal Code that women were “the victim and not offenders” in adulterous cases also came under fire.
  5. Members have at times exhorted bias and prejudice due to the influence of the prevalent patriarchy in our society.
  6. Moreover, NCW has been criticised as toothless and spineless. The body is only recommendatory and has no power to enforce its decisions. The body has often been reactive and arbitrarily taken up select issues and responded to them.
  7. Also, the commission has been limited in its fight for empowering Indian women due to shortcomings in its composition and structure:
  8. NCW lacks concrete legislative power. It enjoys power only to recommend amendments and submit reports.
  9. NCW has no power to take legal actions against the Internal Complaint Committees which have a lackadaisical attitude towards grievance redressal of women facing harassments at the workplace.
  10. NCW’s functions are dependent on the grants offered by the central government. Financial assistance provided to the Commission is very less to cater to its needs.
  11. It does not have the power to choose its own members. The power selecting members is vested with the Union Government and the nature of the country’s volatile political scenario tends the commission to be politicised.
  12. It lacks constitutional status and thus has no legal powers to summon police officers or witnesses.

The NCW has done some good work for the women in India, the above-mentioned shortcomings must be addressed and must increase the awareness by conducting countrywide campaigns, workshops and consultations. More awareness has to be created especially among the rural women about the existence of the Commission. The Commission can employ a person at the district level to bring into light the atrocities occurring at the district level.

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