Women empowerment issues: Jobs,Reservation and education

Aug, 22, 2019

Explained: Why is age of marriage different for men and women?


  • This week, the Delhi High Court took up a plea that sought a uniform age of marriage for men and women.
  • The bench issued a notice to the Centre and the Law Commission of India, seeking their response to the public interest litigation.

Indian Majority Act, 1875

  • Currently, the law prescribes that the minimum age of marriage is 21 and 18 years for men and women, respectively.
  • The minimum age of marriage is distinct from the age of majority, which is gender-neutral.
  • An individual attains the age of majority at 18 as per the Indian Majority Act, 1875.

Minimum age

  • The law prescribes a minimum age of marriage to essentially outlaw child marriages and prevent abuse of minors.
  • Personal laws of various religions that deal with marriage have their own standards, often reflecting custom.
  • For Hindus, Section 5(iii) of the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 sets 18 years as the minimum age for the bride and 21 years as the minimum age for the groom.
  • Child marriages are not illegal but can be declared void at the request of the minor in the marriage.
  • In Islam, the marriage of a minor who has attained puberty is considered valid under personal law.
  • The Special Marriage Act, 1954 and the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, 2006 also prescribe 18 and 21 years as the minimum age of consent for marriage for women and men respectively.

It’s Evolution

  • The Indian Penal Code enacted in 1860 criminalised any physical intercourse with a girl below the age of 10.
  • The provision of rape was amended in 1927 through the Age of Consent Bill, 1927, which made marriages with a girl under 12 invalid.
  • The law had faced opposition from conservative leaders of the nationalist movement such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Madan Mohan Malaviya who saw the British intervention as an attack on Hindu customs.
  • In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act set 16 and 18 years as the minimum age of marriage for women and men respectively.
  • The law, popularly known as Sarda Act after its sponsor Harbilas Sarda, a judge and a member of Arya Samaj, was eventually amended in 1978 to prescribe 18 and 21 years as the age of marriage for a woman and a man, respectively.

Why challenged in court?

  • The petitioner in the Delhi HC case, has challenged the law on the grounds of discrimination.
  • He alleges that Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution, which guarantee the right to equality and the right to live with dignity, are violated by having different legal age for men and women to marry.
  • Two Supreme Court rulings could be significant to the context of this argument.
  • In 2014, in NALSA v Union of India, the Supreme Court while recognising transgenders as the third gender said that justice is delivered with the “assumption that humans have equal value and should, therefore, be treated as equal, as well as by equal laws.”
  • In 2019, in Joseph Shine v Union of India, the Supreme Court decriminalized adultery and said that “a law that treats women differently based on gender stereotypes is an affront to women’s dignity.”

The debate

  • The different legal standard for the age of men and women to marry has been a subject of debate.
  • The laws are a codification of custom and religious practices that are rooted in patriarchy.
  • In a consultation paper of reform in family law in 2018, the Law Commission argued that having different legal standards “contributes to the stereotype that wives must be younger than their husbands”.
  • Women’s rights activists too have argued that the law perpetuates the stereotype that women are more mature than men of the same age and therefore can be allowed to marry sooner.
  • The international treaty Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), also calls for the abolition of laws that assume women have a different physical or intellectual rate of growth than men.
  • The Law Commission paper recommended that the minimum age of marriage for both genders be set at 18.
  • The difference in age for husband and wife has no basis in law as spouses entering into a marriage are by all means equals and their partnership must also be of that between equals, the Commission noted.
Jul, 26, 2019

[op-ed snap] Making national legislatures more gender-balanced


  • The Global Gender Gap report for 2018 said that the widest gender disparity is in the field of political empowerment.
  • To cite the Inter-Parliamentary Union 2018 report, women legislators account for barely 24% of all MPs across the world.
  • However, the experience of the top-ranked countries in the IPU list does give an indication of how women’s presence in political spaces took an upward turn in those nations.


  • Rwanda, a landlocked nation with a population of 11.2 million, tops the list, with 61.3% seats in the Lower House and 38.5% in the Upper House occupied by women.
  • Since 2003, the country has implemented a legislated quota of 30% in all elected positions, which has enabled a steady inflow of women parliamentarians after successive elections.
  • Its Constitution has also set a quota of 30% in all elected offices.
  • However, some believe that the higher representation of women in the country cannot be attributed solely to quotas — women were thrust into the political limelight due to the huge vacuum that emerged in the aftermath of the 1994 genocide, which resulted in a large chunk of the country’s male population getting killed.

Leader in the Caribbean

  • Cuba, the largest Caribbean island nation with a population of about 11.1 million, holds the second rank, with 53.2 % seats of its 605-member single House being occupied by women representatives.
  • The Communist dispensation in Cuba did not opt for legislated gender quotas, but does follow a practice akin to voluntary quota systems.
  • However, Cuban women are less represented at the local level, where candidates are selected by the local communities that often overlook women candidates.
  • Sweden, the fifth-rank holder in the IPU, has a professedly feminist government and has maintained a women’s parliamentary representation of at least 40% since 90s.
  • The 349-member single House, Swedish Parliament, now has 161 women with 46.1% representation.
  • Sweden does not have any constitutional clause or electoral law earmarking representation for women in elected bodies.
  • The issue of compulsory gender quota didn’t find favour in Sweden as it was believed that such a quota will create reverse discrimination and violate the principles of equal opportunities.
  • Almost all political parties there have adopted measures to ensure a fair representation for women at all levels.
  • In 1993, the Social Democratic Party adopted the ‘zipper system’, described as “a gender quota system whereby women and men are placed alternately on all party lists.”
  • This further boosted women’s seat share.

Nepal’s example

Closer home, Nepal occupies the 36th position in the IPU and its 275-member Lower House has 90 women, about 32.7% of the total strength.

Situation in India

  • India, at 149 among the 192 countries in the IPU list, had barely 11.8% women’s representation in the 16th Lok Sabha, which improved to 14.5% in the current Lower House.
  • At least seven out of the 29 States have not sent a single woman MP.
  • The 108th Constitutional Amendment Bill stipulating 33% quota for women in the Parliament and in State Assemblies remains in political cold storage.

Way forward

  • The system of voluntary party quotas, which has worked well in many countries, is not likely to cut much ice in India’s deeply embedded patriarchal society.
  • As has happened in the case of panchayats and municipalities, only a legally mandated quota could perhaps ensure a large-scale entry of Indian women into the higher echelons of political power.
Jul, 10, 2019

[pib] Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)


  • As per Agriculture Census conducted at an interval of every five years by the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare, the percentage of female operational holdings in the country have increased from 12.78 percent during 2010-11 to 13.78 percent during 2015-16.

Mahila Kisan Sashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP)

  • In line with the provisions of National Policy for Farmers (NPF) (2007), Ministry of Rural Development is already implementing a programme exclusively for women farmers namely MKSP.
  • It is a sub-component of Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihood Mission (DAY-NRLM).
  • The primary objective of MKSP is to empower women by enhancing their participation in agriculture and to create sustainable livelihood opportunities for them.
  • Funding support to the tune of up to 60% (90% for North Eastern States) for such projects is provided by the Government of India.

Feminization of Agriculture in India

  • Rural women form the most productive work force in the economy of majority of the developing nations including India.
  • More than 80% of rural women are engaged in agriculture activities for their livelihoods.
  • About 20 per cent of farm livelihoods are female headed due to widowhood, desertion, or male emigration.
  • Agriculture support system in India strengthens the exclusion of women from their entitlements as agriculture workers and cultivators.
  • Most of the women-headed households are not able to access extension services, farmers support institutions and production assets like seed, water, credit, subsidy etc.
  • As agricultural workers, women are paid lower wage than men.
  • MKSP recognizes the identity of “Mahila” as “Kisan” and strives to build the capacity of women in the domain of agro-ecologically sustainable practices.
Jun, 12, 2019

[op-ed snap] Squandering the gender dividend


  • If labour force survey data are to be believed, rural India is in the midst of a gender revolution in which nearly half the women who were in the workforce in 2004-5 had dropped out in 2017-18.
  • The 61st round of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) recorded 48.5% rural women above the age of 15 as being employed either as their major activity or as their subsidiary activity — but this number dropped to 23.7% in the recently released report of the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS). 

Incremental decline

Rural Women data –Worker to population ratio (WPR) for rural women aged 15 and above had dropped from 48.5% in 2004-5 to 35.2% in 2011-12, and then to 23.7% in 2017-18.

Urban Women Data – In contrast, the WPR for urban women aged 15 and above declined only mildly, changing from 22.7% in 2004-5 to 19.5% in 2011-12, and to 18.2% in 2017-18.

Concerns regarding this data

  • If rising incomes lead households to decide that women’s time is better spent caring for home and children, that is their choice.
  • However, if women are unable to find work in a crowded labour market, reflecting disguised unemployment, that is a national tragedy.
  • Decline is not located primarily among the privileged sections – A comparison of rural female WPRs between 2004-5 and 2017-18 does not suggest that the decline is located primarily among the privileged sections of the rural population.
  • Concentration among lower education strata – More importantly, most of the decline in the WPR has taken place among women with low levels of education. For illiterate women, the WPR fell from 55% to 29.1% while that for women with secondary education fell from 30.5% to 15.6%.

Comparison with men

Easier for men to find a job –

  • Men’s participation in agriculture has also declined.
  • However, men were able to pick up work in other industries whereas women reduced their participation in other industries as well as agriculture — resulting in a lower WPR.
  • Mechanisation and land fragmentation have reduced agricultural work opportunities for both men and women.
  • Other work opportunities, except for work in public works programmes, are not easily open to women.
  • This challenge is particularly severe for rural women with moderate levels of education.
  • A man with class 10 education can be a postal carrier, a truck driver or a mechanic; these opportunities are not open to women.
  • Hence, it is not surprising that education is associated with a lower WPR for women; in 2016-17, 29.1% illiterate women were employed, compared to only 16% women with at least secondary education.
  • On-going experimental research at the National Council of Applied Economic Research’s National Data Innovation Centre (NCAER-NDIC) suggests a tremendous undercount of women’s work using standard labour force questions, particularly in rural areas.
  • Although women try to find whatever work they can, they are unable to gain employment at an intensive level that rises above our labour force survey thresholds. This suggests an enormous untapped pool of female workers that should not be ignored.

Possible solutions

1. Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development –

  • Establishment of the Cabinet Committee on Employment and Skill Development is a welcome move by the new government.
  • It is to be hoped that this committee will take the issue of declining female employment as seriously as it does the issue of rising unemployment among the youth.

Development of transportation infrastructure – 

One of the most powerful ways in which public policies affect rural women’s participation in non-agricultural work is via the development of transportation infrastructure that allows rural women to seek work as sales clerks, nurses and factory workers in nearby towns.

Multi-Sectoral Reforms –

If the cabinet committee were to focus on multi-sectoral reforms that have a positive impact on women’s work opportunities, the potential gender dividend could be far greater than the much celebrated demographic dividend.

Jun, 07, 2019

Free transport for women in Delhi


  • Under a new proposal announced by the Delhi government, women will have the option to not pay for rides.
  • The move, which is at the stage of feedback and planning, has drawn various reactions.

Logic behind the move

  • The most common reason for any city incentivizing the use of public transport has been to tackle congestion on the roads.
  • The reasons given by the Delhi government are different.
  • One, to make it easier for women to move from informal and more unsafe modes of transport such as shared autos and cabs to more formal and safer modes such as the Metro.
  • Two, the government hopes that with women being able to travel for free, more of them, especially from the economically disadvantaged groups, would start working.

What’s so special with the move?

  • Globally, conversations around free public transport have revolved around decongestion and affordability, rather than safety.
  • One reason is that many of these experiments have been carried out in highly advanced Scandinavian countries with mostly safe public spaces and better reporting rates of crime against women.

Various Challenges

  • The proposal to make public transport free for women has no well known precedent anywhere in the world, and could be the first of its kind.
  • Studies on fully free public transport systems have underlined both positives and challenges.
  • In 1991, the Netherlands introduced a seasonal free-fare travel card for higher education students, which led to the share of trips made by students rising from 11% to 21%.
  • Fifty-two per cent of cyclists, and 34% of car users moved.
  • However, small European cities can hardly be an indicator for Delhi.
  • The population of all of the Netherlands is around 1.7 crore, much less than Delhi’s estimated 2 crore.
  • Average income levels are not comparable, and the public transportation system in Delhi is weaker than in most European countries.

Challenges of implementation

  • Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) is looking at special passes for women.
  • But the Metro has automated fare collection (AFC) gates that require tokens or Metro cards — the Metro will have to either isolate entry or exit points for women.
  • Along with safety on public transport, last mile connectivity is a big issue.
  • For women, walking to and from the nearest bus stop or Metro station, especially during the early mornings and late evenings, remains unsafe in many places in the city.

Way Forward

  • The challenge for the Delhi government is to find the funds for the project.
  • According to the Delhi government, the cost of subsidizing women’s travel will be around Rs 1,200 crore annually.
  • However, studies show that operational costs frequently rise in the long run, and schemes become increasingly less viable.
  • The West has done it to battle road congestion and pollution.
  • We haven’t really found a similar project in developing countries. But perhaps this will make us the pioneers.
Jun, 04, 2019

SDG Gender Index


  • A SDG Gender Index to measure global gender equality ranks India at 95th among 129 countries.
  • This comes close on the heels of the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum where India was ranked 108th.

SDG Gender Index

  • It has been developed by Equal Measures 2030, a joint effort of regional and global organisations including African Women’s Development and Communication Network, Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation etc.
  • It accounts for 14 out of 17 SDGs (sustainable development goals) that cover aspects such as poverty, health, education, literacy, political representation and equality at the workplace.
  • A score of 100 reflects the achievement of gender equality in relation to the targets set for each indicator.
  • It means, for example, that 100% of girls complete secondary education, or that there is around 50-50 parity for women and men in Parliament.
  • A score of 50 signifies that a country is about halfway to meeting a goal.

Key findings for India

  • India’s highest goal scores are on health (79.9), hunger & nutrition (76.2), and energy (71.8). Its lowest goal scores are on partnerships (18.3, in the bottom 10 countries worldwide), industry, infrastructure and innovation (38.1), and climate (43.4).
  • On indicators that define such goals, India scored 95.3 on the percentage of female students enrolled in primary education who are overage.
  • Some of India’s lowest scores on indicators include the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments (score 23.6; women made up 11.8% of Parliament in 2018).
  • On seats held by women in the Supreme Court (4%), India has a score of 18.2.

Gender-based violence

  • On gender-based violence, indicators include proportion of women aged 20-24 years who were married or in a union before age 18 (27.3%)
  • Women who agreed that a husband/partner is justified in beating his wife/partner under certain circumstances (47.0%) and
  • Women aged 15+ who reported that they “feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where she lives” (69.1%)

Global Scenario

  • The ranking found that the world is far from achieving gender equality with 1.4 billion girls and women living in countries that get a “very poor” grade.
  • The global average score of the 129 countries — which represent 95% of the world’s girls and women — is 65.7 out of 100 (“poor” in the index).
  • Altogether, 2.8 billion girls and women live in countries that get either a “very poor” (59 and below) or “poor” score (60-69) on gender equality.
  • Just 8% of the world’s population of girls and women live in countries that received a “good” gender equality score (80-89) and no country achieved an “excellent” overall score of 90 or above.
May, 09, 2019

[op-ed snap] No courts for women


In the context of the apathy shown towards the woman complainant by an all-male bench (headed by the CJI) in the immediate aftermath of the allegations, and by the in-house committee which has given a clean-chit to the CJI, one cannot help but ponder: Would this incident have been handled differently if the judiciary was not as male-dominated as it always has been?

Gender disparity in judiciary

  • The judiciary is one of the least diverse institutions in India, with the lack of gender diversity being the most visible yet ignored aspect.
  • Since 1950, the SC has had only eight female judges out of 239, with the present three out of 27 being the highest concurrent representation women have ever had on the SC bench.
  • In the subordinate judiciary, merely 27.6 per cent of the judges are female.
  • This lack of women on the bench, at all levels of the judiciary, is at the very root of the impunity with which the top court has, in a single stroke, destroyed decades worth of progress made in deterring sexual harassment of women from all walks of life.

Collegium system as a barrier

  • Even if a female advocate crosses these barriers to continue and thrive in her profession, the current collegium system for the appointment of judges is simply not designed to ensure her elevation to the bench.
  • At present, the appointment of a judge to a high court is based on a recommendation made by a collegium of the three senior-most judges of that HC, and approved by a collegium of the three senior-most judges of the SC.
  • Although the state and central governments have a role to play in the process, the final say, for all practical purposes, rests with the SC collegium.
  • In 25 HC collegiums across the country, there are just five senior female judges with 19 of the collegiums having no female judge at all.
  • Only one woman so far has been a member of the SC collegium (Justice Ruma Pal), with Justice R Banumathi set to become the second later this year; and, at least until 2025, no female judge is going to occupy the CJI’s position.

Self perpetuating phenomenon

  • This nearly all-male composition of the highest decision-making bodies in the judiciary has made gender disparity a self-perpetuating phenomenon .
  • The data shows that out of the 363 persons recommended for elevation, merely 39 were female (just over 10 per cent). Of these, only 21 were confirmed with the remaining 18 names either being remitted to the HCs or deferred for later appointments.
  • The only way out of this vicious cycle is for the nearly all-male collegiums to go beyond their inherent biases and take affirmative measures to improve gender diversity on the bench.
  • More recommendations by collegium – The HC collegiums should consciously recommend more female names for elevation and the SC collegium must consider such recommendations more favourably.
  • Early elevation in career – Further, the female judges should be elevated early enough in their careers so that they make it to the collegiums and become decision makers (the average age of the 19 female judges elevated since October 2017 is 53 years).


Not a perception problem – Lack of gender diversity is not just a perception problem.

The real impact on proceedings – It is seen to have a real impact on the manner of proceedings and the nature of the final verdict — as is evident in the present instance.

Reinforcing trust in judiciary – specially in the judiciary, gender diversity is a virtue in itself — it reassures litigants that diverse opinions are taken into consideration and re-instils their trust in the justice-delivery system.

Opportunity for course correction –  The present calamity in the judiciary, as unfortunate as it is, also provides an unprecedented opportunity to course correct on several accounts. Here’s hoping the men in power have the wisdom to seize it.

May, 03, 2019

[op-ed snap] The gender ladder to socio-economic transformation


India is in the middle of a historical election which is noteworthy in many respects, one of them being the unprecedented focus on women’s employment.

Women Employment Data

  • Currently, the participation of women in the workforce in India is one of the lowest globally.
  • The female labour force participation rate (LFPR) in India fell from 31.2% in 2011-2012 to 23.3% in 2017-2018.
  • This decline has been sharper in rural areas, where the female LFPR fell by more than 11 percentage points in 2017-2018.

Reasons For low rate

  • The answers can be found in a complex set of factors including low social acceptability of women working outside the household, lack of access to safe and secure workspaces, widespread prevalence of poor and unequal wages, and a dearth of decent and suitable jobs.
  • Most women in India are engaged in subsistence-level work in agriculture in rural areas, and in low-paying jobs such as domestic service and petty home-based manufacturing in urban areas.
  • But with better education, women are refusing to do casual wage labour or work in family farms and enterprises.

Education and work

1.Negative relationship –

    • A recent study observed a strong negative relationship between a woman’s education level and her participation in agricultural and non-agricultural wage work and in family farms.
    • The study also showed a preference among women for salaried jobs as their educational attainment increases; but such jobs remain extremely limited for women.
    • It is estimated that among people (25 to 59 years) working as farmers, farm labourers and service workers, nearly a third are women, while the proportion of women among professionals, managers and clerical workers is only about 15% (NSSO, 2011-2012).
    • 2.Unpaid Labour –
      • Time-use surveys have found that they devote a substantial amount of their time to work which is not considered as work, but an extension of their duties, and is largely unpaid.
      • The incidence and drudgery of this unpaid labour is growing.
      • This includes unpaid care work such as childcare, elderly care, and household work such as collecting water.
      • The burden of these activities falls disproportionately on women, especially in the absence of adequately available or accessible public services.
      • It also encompasses significant chunks of women’s contribution to agriculture, animal husbandry, and non-timber forest produce on which most of the household production and consumption is based.

Steps to improve women’s participation

  • A two-pronged approach must entail facilitating women’s access to decent work by providing public services, eliminating discrimination in hiring, ensuring equal and decent wages, and improving women’s security in public spaces.
  • It must also recognise, reduce, redistribute, and remunerate women’s unpaid work.

Demands by women

  • Gender-responsive public services – On the question of work, women’s demands include gender-responsive public services such as free and accessible public toilets, household water connections, safe and secure public transport, and adequate lighting and CCTV cameras to prevent violence against women in public spaces and to increase their mobility.
  • Decent living wages  & social security –Furthermore, they want fair and decent living wages and appropriate social security including maternity benefit, sickness benefit, provident fund, and pension.
  • Provisions for migrant workers – Women have also expressed the need for policies which ensure safe and dignified working and living conditions for migrant workers.
  • For example, in cities, governments must set up migration facilitation and crisis centres (temporary shelter facility, helpline, legal aid, and medical and counselling facilities).
  • Spaces for women – They must also allocate social housing spaces for women workers, which include rental housing and hostels. They must ensure spaces for women shopkeepers and hawkers in all markets and vending zones.

Recognition as farmers

1. Their fundamental demand is that women must be recognised as farmers in accordance with the National Policy for Farmers.

    • This should include cultivators, agricultural labourers, pastoralists, livestock rearers, forest workers, fish-workers, and salt pan workers.
    • Thereafter, their equal rights and entitlements over land and access to inputs, credit, markets, and extension services must be ensured.


Unless policymakers correctly assess and address the structural issues which keep women from entering and staying in the workforce, promising more jobs — while a welcome step — is unlikely to lead to the socio-economic transformation India needs.





Apr, 06, 2019

[op-ed snap] A ticket for her


National parties have fielded very less percentage of women in Lok Sabha elections.

Situation of national Parties

  •  Outburst of women in politics shows, women are tiring of the power differential in the national parties — with ample reason.
  • Neither the BJP nor the Congress has done more than talk about women’s political empowerment.
  • In the current elections to the Lok Sabha, they have fielded 12 per cent and 13.7 per cent of women candidates, respectively.
  • That is far less than the commitments by two “regional” parties —  Trinamool Congress has fielded 40 per cent women candidates, while BJD has fielded 33 per cent.

Questions need to be raised

  • The question to be asked of both the BJP and the Congress is: How do they claim to be “national” parties if they do not attempt to adequately represent the political aspirations of 50 per cent of the country’s people?
  • The question of representation is also inevitably tied to equity.
  • When a patriarchal culture and society confines a majority of women to subordinate social and economic roles, politics must find a way of punching holes into the walls — and let some air in.
  • That is not to say that parties should be blind to the calculus of competing interests that determine elections, but they must also ask themselves why they have so far made little space for women’s ambitions.
  • As women rightfully complained, dynasty cannot be the only factor in choosing women candidates.
  • Several social and political firestorms have shown — whether it is the debate over triple talaq, or the allegations of sexual assault against minister, or the agitation for women’s entry to Sabarimala — that Indian women are forcefully renegotiating the terms of their social contract, even if they are not always in a position of strength.
  • But for these contestations to bring in substantial and far-reaching change, political power is essential.
  • Not just that, to bring in a fresh perspective on lawmaking, there is no better prescription than an infusion of new talent — of people from various gendered, caste and class positions.


Politics is, of course, a balancing act between the demands of pragmatism and idealism. But in this case, national parties have brazenly and consistently chosen to ditch equality for realpolitik. As more voices speak up, they must realise that the time’s up for patriarchal condescension.


Mar, 14, 2019

[op-ed snap] A model policy for women in the police


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level:Facilitating womes’s representation and safety at workplace in Police Services.



  • Women constitute about 7% of the police strength in India. This number is expected to rise, with many States and Union Territories providing for 30% (and more) reservation for women in the police in specific ranks. However, this is not enough.
  • The discourse on mainstreaming women in the police by making policing inclusive, non-discriminatory and efficient in India is missing in policy circles.

Need for policies

  • One way to mainstream women in the police is to develop a model policy that will challenge the deep-rooted patriarchy in the institution.
  • Unfortunately, till now, not a single State police department has attempted to even draft such a policy.
  • Thus, neither the Central nor State governments can get very far by merely adopting reservation to increase gender diversity without considering the need for policymaking.
  • A model policy, while laying the foundation for equal opportunities for women in every aspect of policing, should also strive to create a safe and enabling work environment. Without this, all other efforts will remain piecemeal.

Steps needed to be taken

  • One of the first steps to ensure a level playing field for women in the police is to increase their numbers.
  • Merely providing reservation is not enough; police departments should develop an action plan to achieve the target of 30% or more in a time-bound manner.
  • Departments should also undertake special recruitment drives in every district to ensure geographical diversity.
  • To achieve the target, the police should reach out to the media and educational institutions to spread awareness about opportunities for women in the police.
  • Current data reveal that most women in the police are concentrated in the lower ranks. Efforts should be made to change this. The impulse to create women-only battalions for the sake of augmenting numbers should be eliminated.
  • Second, the model policy should strive to ensure that decisions on deployment of women are free of gender stereotyping to facilitate bringing women into leading operational positions.
  • At present, there appears to be a tendency to sideline women, or give them policing tasks that are physically less demanding, or relegate them to desk duty, or make them work on crimes against women alone.
  • Women police officers should be encouraged to take on public order and investigative crimes of all types, and should be given duties beyond the minimum mandated by special laws.
  • Desk work too must be allocated evenly among men and women.
  • Police departments still lack proper internal childcare support systems. Departments need to be mindful of this social reality and exercise sensitivity in making decisions on transfers and posting of women personnel.
  • Women should be posted in their home districts in consultation with supervising officers.

Preventing Sexual Harassment at Work Place

  • Police departments must also ensure safe working spaces for women and adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards discrimination and harassment, in order to make policing a viable career option for women.
  • Departments are legally bound to set up Internal Complaints Committees to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace.
  • Departments must operationalise the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act of 2013.


  • Some of these suggestions have already been made by the National Conference of Women in Police. However, Central and State governments have not yet developed or adopted a comprehensive framework towards achieving substantive gender equality.
Mar, 09, 2019

95 per cent women in India involved in unpaid labour


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Highlights of the report

Mains level: Inequality of Wages for Women


  • In India, 95 per cent or around 195 million women are employed in the unorganized sector or in unpaid labour, says a report released by consultancy firm Deloitte.

About the report

  • The report titled ‘Empowering Women & Girls in India for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ was released during the Gender Equality Summit 2019 by UN Global Compact Network India.
  • The share of women in the workforce fell to 25 per cent and the female labour force participation rate (FLPR) stands at 26 per cent; with 195 million women work in the unorganised sector or do unpaid work says the report.
  • It adds that involving women in the workforce can help achieve future aspirations that can boost India’s GDP by 27 per cent.
  • However, this will only be possible if participation of women increases in workplace to same number as men.

Highlights of the report

  • Limited access to education, information, technology, social and political participation.
  • In India, the female labour force participation has had a decadal fall from 36.7 per cent in 2005 to 26 per cent in 2018, with 95 per cent (195 million) women employed in the unorganised sector or in unpaid word.
  • In the education sector, 39.4 per cent girls aged between 15−18 dropped out of schools and colleges
  • In terms of digital literacy, only 34 per cent women in India have access to mobile technology, according to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER).
Mar, 08, 2019

[op-ed snap] Women and the workplace


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nothing Much

Mains level:Facilitating womes’s representation and safety at workplace following UN’s Model



For more than a century, March 8 has marked International Women’s Day — a global day celebrating the achievements of women and promoting gender equality worldwide. But as we pause to celebrate our many advances, we must also acknowledge how much remains to be done.

Interlinking Issues

  • Two interconnected issues have emerged as priorities over the past two years:
    • sexual harassment at the workplace
    • obstacles to women’s participation at all levels of the workforce, including political representation.
  • The 2017-18 explosion of the #MeToo movement across social media uncovered countless cases of unreported sexual harassment and assault, first in the U.S. and then in India.
  • In both countries, it led to the resignations or firing of dozens of prominent men, mostly politicians, actors and journalists.

UN’s Stand on women’s representationand safety

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been a staunch supporter of women’s rights since his election in 2016, stating the need for “benchmarks and time frames to achieve [gender] parity across the system, well before the target year of 2030”.
  • he UN released a System-wide Strategy on Gender Parity to transform the UN’s representation of women at senior levels. Today the UN’s Senior Management Group, which has 44 top UN employees, comprises 23 women and 21 men.

UN’s response to MeToo movement

  • In response to the MeToo movement, the UN recently conducted a system-wide survey to gauge the prevalence of sexual harassment among its more than 200,000 global staff.
  • Though only 17% of UN staff responded, what the survey uncovered was sobering.
  • One in three UN women workers reported being sexually harassed in the past two years, predominantly by men.
  • Clearly, the UN gender strategy has much to improve, but then the UN, like most other international and national organisations, has a decades-old cultural backlog to tackle.
  • UN research plays a significant role. As findings on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) indicate, many countries, including India, were able to substantially increase their performance on issues such as sex ratios and maternal mortality once their leaders had signed on to the MDGs.
  • Tracking performance on the Sustainable Development Goals, a more comprehensive iteration of the MDGs, will again provide useful pointers for policymakers and advocates going forward.

Efficacy of Single Window Grievance redressal

  • How can organisations as large as the UN improve their internal cultures surrounding sexual harassment, gender parity, and gender equity?
  • This issue has generated considerable debate in India, where political parties have begun to ask how they are to apply the rules of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 which lays down that every office in the country must have an internal complaints committee to investigate allegations of sexual harassment.
  • In this context, does the UN Secretariat’s single window structure for such complaints provide a better practice?
  • UN agencies, including the multi-institute UN University that aims to achieve gender parity at the director level by end 2019, still have to identify their organisation-specific mechanisms.

Impact of Previous Laws

  • In India, going by past figures — — the impact of the 2013 Act, one of the most comprehensive in the world, has been poor.
  • Despite a large jump in complaints recorded, convictions have not shown a proportionate rise, largely due to poor police work.

Way Forward

  • Both the UN’s early successes and the Indian experience offer lessons to UN member-states, few of which have gender parity or serious action against sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • .In the U.S., companies such as General Electric, Accenture, Pinterest, Twitter, General Mills and Unilever are setting and achieving targets to increase female representation at all levels of their workforce.
  • This March 8, let us hope that companies worldwide pledge to follow the examples in the U.S. And that other institutions, whether universities or political parties, follow the UN example.
  • Gender reforms begin at home, not only in the family but also in the workplace.


Feb, 22, 2019

Women's Livelihood Bonds


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Development & Employment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level:  Women Livelihood Bond

Mains level: Promoting Women entrepreneurs


  • The World Bank, the Small Industries Development Bank (Sidbi) and the UN Women, along with 10 wealth management firms and leading corporates has announced the launch of a new social impact bond to offer credit to rural women entrepreneurs.

Women Livelihood Bond

  • The bonds, which will have a tenure of five years, will be launched by SIDBI with the support of World Bank and UN Women.
  • The proposed bond will enable individual women entrepreneurs in sectors like food processing, agriculture, services and small units to borrow around Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh at an annual interest rate of around 13-14 per cent or less.
  • SIDBI will act as the financial intermediary and channel funds raised to women entrepreneurs through participating financial intermediaries like banks, NBFCs or microfinance institutions.
Feb, 21, 2019

[op-ed snap] What stops rural women from getting involved in entrepreneurship?


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Biz Sakhi

Mains level: Empowerment of Rural women by promoting entrepreneurship



Women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.

Initiatives Improving Rural Women’s participation in workforce

  • The need to improve women’s participation in the economy has been a long-standing priority and is also crucial towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
  • In recent years, entrepreneurship has emerged as an ideal way for rural women to contribute, by taking a few hours out of their day they can engage in small businesses and bring home additional income.
  • There are multiple programmes which offer support to such women such as the Start and Improve Your Business Program (SIYB) of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the government’s Trade Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development (TREAD).
  •  Hero MotoCorp Ltd and the Government of Haryana too seeks to positively impact the lives of 14,000 underprivileged wome.
  • However, Recent data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation shows that women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country.

Reasons for low participation of women in businesses

  • Through its pilot programmes with rural women under the Disha Programme, UNDP India has come to realise that one of the reasons for this lack of uptake is the absence of mentorship for women entrepreneurs. 
  • Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.
  • Other issues include lack of awareness about opportunities, difficulty in accessing formal financing and poor customer management skills.

Positive efforts towards an inclusive workfoce through Biz Sakhis

  • Trained by Disha Project – a partnership between UNDP India, IKEA Foundation and India Development Foundation, the Biz Sakhis are women from rural communities who guide budding female entrepreneurs through multiple processes and provide both practical and psychological support to them.
  • They encourage rural women to start their own businesses by making them aware of entrepreneurship as a realistic opportunity, and, by informing them of the benefits of starting their own small businesses.
  • Biz Sakhis are instrumental at this point in helping them access formal banking channels for loans, by providing them information about schemes such as the Mudra Yojana Scheme of the government.
  • Biz Sakhis provide inputs to help women access market linkages and introduce them to a variety of business models and ideas to help them scale up.
  • They also work with small business owners to develop their communication skills, and to be able to persuade and negotiate with stakeholders within the ecosystem of their businesses.
  • The most important role that Biz Sakhis play in the lives of rural entrepreneurs, is to be the source of emotional and psychological support.


Often, family pressures and societal norms discourage women from engaging in such activities or cause them to abandon their business in the wake of community backlash. Being from the community themselves, Biz Sakhis can effectively engage with women and the community at large to counter such barriers and empower rural women to sustain their businesses.

Jan, 10, 2019

[pib] “Web- Wonder Women” Campaign


Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization, population and associated issues, poverty and developmental issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WWW campaign

Mains level:  Role of Social Media in Women Empowerment


  • The Union WCD has launched an online campaign, ‘#www :  Web- Wonder Women’.

Web-Wonder Women Campaign

  1. Indian women have always been enterprising and have created a positive impact on society with their hard-work, experience and knowledge.
  2. #www: WebWonderWomen is a campaign to specially honour and encourage such voices that have in their own capacity driven a positive impact on social media platforms.
  3. The Campaign’s Partners aim to recognize the fortitude of Indian women stalwarts from across the globe that has used the power of social media to run positive & niche campaigns to steer a change in society.

Rules for Nomination

  1. The Campaign invites Entries via Nominations from across the world, as per the laid out criteria.
  2. Indian-origin women, working or settled anywhere in the world, are eligible for nomination.
  3. The shortlisted entries will be open for public voting on Twitter and the finalists will be selected by a specialized panel of judges.
  4. Nominations have been invited in a large number of categories including Health, Media, Literature, Art, Sports, Environmental protection, fashion among others.
Jan, 09, 2019

Lok Sabha Passes Amendment Bill To Remove Leprosy as Ground For Divorce


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Personal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2018

Mains level: Discrimination being faced by leprosy patients in the society & how inaction from the government’s end has helped in increasing its effect


Leprosy: Not a ground for Divorce

  1. The Lok Sabha on has passed the Personal Laws (Amendment Bill), 2018, which seeks removal of leprosy as a ground for divorce.
  2. To this end, it seeks to amend five Acts:
  • the Divorce Act, 1869,
  • the Dissolution of Muslim Marriage Act, 1939,
  • the Special Marriage Act, 1954,
  • the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955, and
  • the Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act, 1956.
  1. The Amendment Bill proposes to amend the provisions in these Acts which prescribe leprosy as a ground for divorce or separation from the spouse.

Why such move?

  1. The medical advances made in the field have making leprosy curable with multi-drug therapy.
  2. Leprosy patients were isolated and segregated from society as the leprosy was not curable and the society was hostile to them.
  3. However, as a result of intensive healthcare and availability of modern medicine to cure the disease, the attitude of the society towards them began to change.
  4. The discriminatory provisions contained in various statutes against the persons affected with leprosy were made prior to the medical advancements rendering leprosy a curable disease.

In line with UN resolution

  1. This is in keeping with the UN General Assembly Resolution of 2010 on the ‘Elimination of discrimination against persons affected by leprosy and their family members’
  2. India has signed and ratified the Resolution



  1. Leprosy, also known as Hansen’s disease, is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae.
  2. The exact mechanism of transmission of leprosy is not known.
  3. The disease mainly affects the skin, the peripheral nerves, mucosal surfaces of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes.
  4. Leprosy is known to occur at all ages ranging from early infancy to very old age.
  5. Leprosy is curable and early treatment averts most disabilities.
Dec, 19, 2018

Gender equality at work more than 200 years off: WEF


Mains Paper 2: IR | Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate

The following things are important from UPSC perspective:

Prelims Level: Global Gender Gap Report

Mains level: Statistical data mentioned in the newscard


  • Women may be shouting louder than ever for equal treatment and pay, but a World Economic Forum (WEF) report indicates it will take centuries to achieve gender parity in workplaces around the globe.

Global Gender Gap Report

  1. The Global Gender Gap Report was first published in 2006 by the World Economic Forum.
  2. It releases an Gender Gap Index designed to measure gender equality.
  3. The index  ranks countries according to calculated gender gap between women and men in four key areas: health, education, economy and politics to gauge the state of gender equality in a country.
  4. The report measures women’s disadvantage compared to men, and is not strictly a measure of equality.

Highlights of 2018 Report

  1. At current rates, the global gender gap across a range of areas will not close for another 108 years, while it is expected to take 202 years to close the workplace gap, WEF found.
  2. After years of advances in education, health and political representation, women registered setbacks in all three areas this year, WEF said.
  3. Only in the area of economic opportunity did the gender gap narrow somewhat, although there is not much to celebrate, with the global wage gap narrowing to nearly 51%.
  4. And the number of women in leadership roles has risen to 34% globally, WEF said.
  5. The report said there had been some improvements in wage equality this year compared to 2017, when the global gender gap widened for the first time in a decade.

Impact of Automation and AI

  1. The report showed that there are now proportionately fewer women than men participating in the workforce, suggesting that automation is having a disproportionate impact on jobs traditionally performed by women.
  2. And women are significantly under-represented in growing areas of employment that require science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills, WEF said.
  3. It decried the particularly low participation of women within the artificial intelligence field, where they make up just 22% of the workforce.
  4. This gap is three times larger than in other industry talent pools.
  5. Women in AI are less likely to be positioned in senior roles

Global Scenario

  1. For instance, while Western European countries could close their gender gaps within 61 years, countries in the Middle East and North Africa will take 153 years.
  2. Overall, the Nordic countries once again dominated the top of the table: men and women were most equal in Iceland, followed by Norway, Sweden and Finland.
  3. Syria, Iraq, Pakistan and finally Yemen showed the biggest overall gender gaps of the countries surveyed.
  4. Among the world’s 20 leading economies, France fared the best, taking 12th place overall, followed by Germany in 14th place, Britain in 15th, Canada in 16th and South Africa in 19th.
  5. The US continued its decline, slipping two places to 51st, with the report in particular blaming a decrease in gender parity in ministerial-level positions.
Dec, 18, 2018

[pib] Expansion of beneficiaries list under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: Success of Ujjwala Yojana


  • The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) has cleared the proposal to release deposit free LPG connections to poor families, who have not been considered earlier under PMUY on account of their names not been covered in Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC).
  • Poor families who could not get LPG connection under PMUY are now eligible to get a connection subject to fulfilling the eligibility norms and furnishing required documents.

New beneficiaries will include:

  • SC/STs households
  • Beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin),
  • Beneficiaries of Antyodaya Anna Yojana(AAY),
  • Forest dwellers,
  • Most Backward Classes (MBC),
  • Tea & Ex-Tea Garden Tribes,
  • People residing in Islands / river islands


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  1. PMUY is a welfare scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to families below the poverty line, guided by the strong commitment to bring about changes in the life of poor women and also protect their health
  2. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is used to identify the beneficiaries (adult woman of a BPL family) and is given a deposit free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs.1600 per connection by the centre
  3. This scheme will help prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people.
Dec, 18, 2018

Lok Sabha passes Transgender Persons Bill with 27 changes


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Definition of Trans-gender

Mains level: Upholding fundamental as well as human rights of transgender community


  • The Lok Sabha has passed the Bill to give transgender persons equal rights and protection under law through a voice vote.


  1. The Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Bill, 2016, was passed with 27 amendments introduced by the government.
  2. Work on the Bill has been going on since 2015.
  3. The Bill had gone to the standing committee, and as many as 27 amendments have been accepted by the government.
  4. Whatever other suggestions are there will be incorporated in the rules of the Act.
  5. The Supreme Court, in the landmark April 2014 NALSA judgment, had issued a directive “to extend all kinds of reservations in cases of admission in educational institutions and for public appointments” by treating transgender persons as socially and educationally backward classes.
  6. They were to be given reservations under the 27 per cent OBC quota, a suggestion that was also endorsed by the National Commission for Backward Classes in its recommendations to the Social Justice Ministry in 2014.

Re-definition of Trans-persons

  1. The amendments passed include a change in the previous definition of transgender persons as “neither wholly female nor wholly male”, which was criticised as being insensitive.
  2. The new definition terms a transgender person as one “whose gender does not match the gender assigned to that person at birth and includes trans-men or trans-women, persons with intersex variations, gender-queers, and persons having socio-cultural identities such as kinnar, hijras, aravani and jogta”.

Gender Certificate

  1. The Bill states that a person will be recognised as transgender on the basis of a certificate of identity issued through the district screening committee.
  2. This certificate will be a proof of identity as transgender and confer rights under this Bill.
  3. It is very unclear what the term ‘self-perceived gender identity’ entails and how it will be enforced.

Issues surrounding the Bill

  1. Several civil society groups have been vocal about their opposition to the Bill.
  2. The Bill disregards many of their suggestions as also some of the crucial points raised by the standing committee report of July 2017.
  3. This includes the right of transgender persons to self-identification, instead of being certified by a district screening committee.
  4. The panel had also pointed out that the Bill is silent on granting reservations to transgender persons.

A liberal perspective on Trans People

  1. The Bill must recognise that gender identity must go beyond biological; gender identity is an individual’s deep and personal experience.
  2. It need not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.
  3. It includes the personal sense of the body and other expressions such as one’s own personal inducing proceeds.

Criticisms of the Bill

  1. The Bill so passed has prescribed punishments for organised begging.
  2. Trans youth who don’t find jobs join their gurus in begging due to systematic discrimination in education, job, and healthcare.
  3. This Bill doesn’t provide anything to better to condition in those areas, it doesn’t provide for reservation.
  4. It upholds lighter consequences for discrimination and assault on trans people compared to cis-gender people.
Dec, 17, 2018

[pib] NITI Aayog organizes the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WEP, WTIA

Mains level: Promoting Women entrepreneurs in India


  • The NITI Aayog has organized the Third Edition of the Women Transforming India Awards 2018 and launched the upgraded portal of the Women Entrepreneurship Platform.


  1. On November 28-30, 2017, NITI Aayog in partnership with the US govt hosted the 8th Annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) in Hyderabad.
  2. To take the idea forward, CEO, NITI Aayog announced setting up of Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) to promote and support established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs in India.

Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP)

  1. WEP is the first of its kind unified access platform which enables meeting of several stakeholders in the entrepreneurial space on a single platform.
  2. It works in collaboration with various partner organizations to provide a wide range of support services to women entrepreneurs under various service verticals of WEP.

WEP 2.0

  1. The WEP seeks to transform the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country and is a one-stop resource centre for future and budding women entrepreneurs.
  2. It seeks to act as a medium for various stakeholders in the economy to come together and offer integrated services such as Incubation Support, Mentorship, Funding avenues, Compliance, Marketing Assistance etc.

Women Transforming India Awards

  1. The Awards were instituted to recognise and celebrate stories of exemplary women from across India.
  2. WTI Awards 2018 received over 2300 nominations this year.
  3. Through a highly objective and transparent screening and evaluation process have selected 15 winners from sectors such as Renewable Energy, Education, Sanitation, Art and Culture, Social Innovation and Impact to name a few.
  4. This year’s theme is “Women and Entrepreneurship”.

WEP Investment Council

  • The WEP Investment Council was established to address funding related challenges faced by entrepreneur.
Dec, 10, 2018

[op-ed snap] She is the answer


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sustainable Development Goals, UNDP

Mains level: How women can play a key role in India’s food security


SDGs and gender equality

  1. Countries globally, including India, have agreed to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched by the UNDP in 2016 as “a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity”
  2. Among the 17 goals and 169 targets to be achieved by 2030, SDG 5 on gender equality is seen as a key goal, both in itself and for achieving other goals
  3. SDG 5 holds substantial potential for promoting food security

Role of women in food security

  1. Women play key roles in food provisioning as producers, home food managers, and consumers
  2. As producers, they constitute a high and growing proportion of farmers. In India, 35 per cent of agricultural workers are women (NSSO 2011-12) and women farm operators grew from 12.8 per cent to 13.9 per cent between 2010-11 and 2015-16 (agricultural censuses), not counting women working on male-managed farms
  3. Women also contribute to food systems through forests and fisheries
  4. One in six persons globally depends on forests for supplementary food, green manure, fodder, firewood, etc.
  5. Women and girls are the main gatherers of forest products, especially food and firewood; the latter continues to be the primary cooking fuel in most of rural India, cooking energy is essential for food security
  6. Seafood is globally the main source of protein for a billion people. Women constitute 46 per cent of workers in small-scale fisheries and 54 per cent in inland fisheries
  7. Although marine products are harvested mainly by men, it is aquaculture — more in women’s domain — which is the fastest-growing and predicted to provide over 50 per cent of fish consumed globally by 2020 (according to World Bank figures)

Challenges for women

  1. Women’s productivity depends crucially on access to land, which is highly gender unequal due to male bias in inheritance, government land transfers, and market access
  2. They also have poor access to credit, irrigation, inputs, technology and markets
  3. As agriculture gets feminised, the challenge of dealing with climate change, which is predicted to greatly lower food-crop yields, will increasingly fall on women
  4. But few of them have access to technological advances such as heat-resistant crops or water-conserving practices
  5. And higher temperatures will increase their labour in food processing and preservation
  6. A fall in household food will also affect females more than males due to unequal intra-household allocations, as evident in anthropometric and malnourishment measures, and female anaemia — 53 per cent of Indian women are anaemic
  7. Besides, as family food managers, women’s autonomy in food allocation decisions is adversely affected by their limited asset ownership: Child survival, nutrition and health are found to be notably better if the mother also has assets

Potential of SDG 5

  1. The potential lies in its focus on women’s access to land and property, and natural resources
  2. Secure land rights for women can improve both their productivity as farmers and family nutritional allocations
  3. Women can obtain land via the family (especially inheritance), the market and the state
  4. Target 5A only mentions inheritance laws, but since 86 per cent arable land in India is privately owned, gender equality in family land would improve tenure security for women farmers
  5. Also, SDG 5 mentions financial services. Affordable credit would help women farmers invest in necessary inputs
  6. Similarly, SDG 5 emphasises natural resources. Although it does not specify forests or fisheries, if policymakers so interpret it, it could enhance nutritional diversity, given women’s roles in forest food and fisheries
  7. Moreover, Target 5.5 emphasises women’s participation in public life. Although it focuses on legislatures and village councils, this could be extended to community institutions managing forests and water

Limitations of SDG 5

  1. Target 5A on inheritance is diluted by the clause “in accordance with national laws”, which provides a loophole to bypass the goal’s mandate
  2. Also, social norms obstruct legal rights, such as “good sisters” foregoing their claims to parental property, or distant marriages reducing women’s ability to manage inherited land
  3. Government policy cannot directly change norms, but SDG 5 is silent even on government land transfers to women, which policy can affect
  4. And women farmers need inputs beyond the financial services mentioned in Target 5A
  5. Similarly, the failure of SDG 5 to explicitly recognise access to forests and fisheries, or the challenges of climate change, restricts its potential

How can SDG 5 further the goal of food security?

  1. First, it can interpret women’s access to natural resources to specifically cover forests, fisheries, and irrigation
  2. Second, it can connect with SDG 1 (no poverty) and SDG 2 (zero hunger) which recognise the need for women to access land, credit, knowledge and markets
  3. Third, it can interpret goals which mention gender to include support for women farmers, as in SDG 13 on climate change
  4. Fourth, it can engender SDGs which bear crucially on food security but at present disregard gender, viz. SDG 15 on forests and SDG 14 on marine resources

Way forward

  1. Gender equality is key to food security
  2. Beyond SDGs, we need institutional innovations
  3. Farming in groups could provide an unexplored pathway for enhancing food security and strengthening SDG 5
Dec, 04, 2018

Central guidelines for crèches at workplaces


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of the vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

Mains level: Impact of the proposed guidelines


  • The Centre has prepared guidelines for setting up of crèches at workplaces, which prescribe trained personnel to man the facility as well as infrastructure requirements and safety norms.

Adding another benefit

  1. In March this year, Parliament passed the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act, 2017, enhancing paid maternity leave from a period of 12 weeks to 26 weeks.
  2. The law is applicable to all institutions with 10 or more employees.
  3. It also makes it mandatory for every organisation with 50 or more employees to have a crèche.

Guidelines for Crèche

  1. A crèche be either at the workplace or within 500 metres of it.
  2. Alternatively, it could also be in the beneficiaries’ neighbourhood.
  3. The facility should be open for eight to 10 hours and if the employees have a shift system, then the crèche should also be run accordingly.
  4. A crèche must have a minimum space of 10 to 12 square feet per child to ensure that she or he can play, rest and learn.
  5. There should be no unsafe places such as open drains, pits, garbage bins near the centre.
  6. The crèches should have at least one guard, who should have undergone police verification.
  7. There should also be at least one supervisor per crèche and a trained worker for every 10 children under three years of age or for every 20 children above the age of three, along with a helper.

Other recommendations

  1. The government has also recommended that no outsiders such as plumbers, drivers, and electricians be allowed inside the crèche when children are present.
  2. A crèche monitoring committee with representations from among crèche workers, parents and administration should be formed.
  3. There should also be a grievance redressal committee for inquiring into instances of sexual abuse.
  4. The guidelines are not mandatory but are a yardstick for NGOs and organisations for setting up of creches.
Nov, 24, 2018

SHe-Box to be linked to all Central, State departments


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Women Empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the SHWW Act

Mains level: Preventing Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace


  • Against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement, the Ministry of WCD has linked SHe-Box to all Central and State Departments in 653 districts across the country.


  1. SHe-Box is an online portal to report complaints of sexual harassment at workplaces under the Sexual Harassment Act, 2013.
  2. For prompt disposal of complaints on SHe-Box, each case goes directly to the Central or State authority concerned having powers to take action in the matter.
  3. SHe-Box cases can be monitored by the complainants and the WCD Ministry, thereby reducing the time taken for their disposal.
  4. As many as 321 complaints were registered with SHe-Box, out of which 120 are related to Union Ministries/ departments, 58 from State governments, and 143 from private companies till November 20.
  5. Those who have already filed written complaints with the Internal Complaint Committee (ICC) or Local Complaint Committee (LCC) are also eligible to file complaints through the SHe-Box portal.

Quick Recap of SHWWA Act

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act, 2013 mandates all workplaces with more than 10 workers to constitute the ICC to receive complaints of sexual harassment.
  2. These workplaces include any department, organisation, undertaking, establishment, enterprise, institution, office, branch or unit which is established, owned, controlled, or wholly or substantially financed by funds provided directly or indirectly by the appropriate government, local authority, corporation or cooperative society.
  3. To ensure security of women at workplaces, the WCD Ministry has empanelled institutions/ organisations to organise awareness sessions on the SHWWA Act, 2013.

Assist this newscard with:

Explained: When a woman is harassed at work

Nov, 19, 2018

IIT devises program to maximize LPG Connections


Mains Paper 3: Science & Technology | Developments and their applications and effects in everyday life.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Decision Support System (DSS)

Mains level: Effective implementation of govt. schemes


  • IIT Kharagpur researchers have devised a decision support system to help maximize the LPG connections in BPL (below poverty line) households.
  • It is a first of its kind for analysis of a national level energy policy, it said.

Decision Support System (DSS)

  1. A DSS is a computer programme that helps in making sound rational decisions using mathematical programming and operation research techniques.
  2. The DSS devised at the IIT uses mixed integer linear programming to mathematically formulate the policy using input parameters, decision variables and their relationships.
  3. The mathematical model has found the optimum number of total (BPL) connections required in a region, number of dealerships that need to be commissioned in a region over the policy time frame.
  4. The research has done sensitivity analysis with the mathematical model — change in a decision variable with respect to the change in parameter.

Benefits of the DSS

  1. With this, they can predict not only how the number of household connections can be increased but also the critical region that contributes most in each zone of LPG distribution.
  2. The DSS for such policies can provide the exact values of important parameters over the prescribed policy time period.
  3. This in turn will help researchers to take important measures to ascertain the proper functioning (monitoring) of the policy towards the desired goal.
  4. This kind of DSS can be developed for various federal and state level policies for various commodities like solar panels distributions, agricultural commodities and so on.

Findings of the DSS

  1. The government has recently revised the target to eight crore LPG connections by 2020.
  2. Certain areas though have been well covered, such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
  3. The government needs to pay special attention to regions critical to LPG penetration, such as Assam in the Northeastern zone, in order to achieve 100 per cent BPL household penetration.
Nov, 17, 2018

Maternity Leave Incentive Scheme


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of the vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

Mains level: Impact of the proposed incentive scheme


  • In a section of media, there have been some reports about Maternity Leave Incentive Scheme. In this regard, the Ministry of Labour & Employment has clarified about the scheme.

Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

  1. The Maternity Benefit Act, 1961 applies to establishments employing 10 or more than 10 persons in Factories, Mines, Plantation, Shops & Establishments and other entities.
  2. The main purpose of this Act is to regulate the employment of women in certain establishments for certain period before and after child birth and to provide maternity benefit and certain other benefits.
  3. The Act was amended through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017 which, inter alia, has increased the paid maternity leave to women employees from 12 weeks to 26 weeks.

Ground Reality of Implementation

  1. While the implementation of the provision is good in Public Sector, there are reports that it is not good in Private Sector and in contract jobs.
  2. There is a wide perception that private entities are not encouraging women employees because they may have to provide maternity benefit to them, particularly 26 weeks of paid holiday.
  3. It is not rare when the employers come to know that their women employee is in the family way or applies for maternity leave, the contracts are terminated on some flimsy grounds.
  4. The extended maternity leave has become a deterrent for female employees who are asked to quit or retrenched on flimsy grounds before they go on maternity leave.

Proposal for an Incentive Scheme

  1. The Ministry is working on an incentive scheme wherein 7 weeks’ wages would be reimbursed to employers.
  2. It would be applicable to employers who employ women workers with wage ceiling upto Rs. 15000/- and provide the maternity benefit of 26 weeks paid leave, subject to certain conditions.
  3. It is estimated that approximately an amount of Rs. 400 crores would be the financial implication for the for implementing the proposed incentive scheme.

Expected Outcomes

  1. The proposed Scheme, if approved and implemented shall ensure the women an equal access to employment and other approved benefits along with adequate safety and secure environment.
  2. Also, the women shall continue to bear the major share of household work as well as child care.
  3. The work places will be more and more responsive to the family needs of the working women.

Defying False Rumors

  1. There are some media reports that this Scheme has been approved/notified.
  2. However, it is clarified that Ministry is in the process of obtaining necessary budgetary grant and approvals of Competent Authorities.
  3. The reports that it will be funded from Labour Welfare Cess, is also incorrect, as no such cess exists under this Ministry.

Which Cess Media is talking about?

  1. The Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess (BOCW) Act provides for collection of cess for construction workers by states/union territories.
  2. The states/UTs are required that the welfare schemes funded from cess fund should be exclusively for building and other construction workers only.
  3. Diversion of cess fund for welfare of other category of workers is not permissible under the BOCW Act.
Nov, 12, 2018

Long cohabitation is presumed marriage: SC


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: Legal status of live in relationship in India


Court Favors Maintenance

  1. The Supreme Court has upheld the presumption that a couple who live together as husband and wife are legally married and the woman can claim maintenance under Section 125 of the CrPC.
  2. The bench observed that it is fairly well settled that the law presumes in favour of marriage and against concubinage when a man and woman have cohabited continuously for a number of years.
  3. Citing past judgments the Bench quoted that where a man, who lived with a woman for a long time and even though they may not have undergone legal necessities of a valid marriage, should be made liable to pay the woman maintenance if he deserts her.

Legal Loopholes

  1. The man should not be allowed to benefit from the legal loopholes by enjoying the advantages of a de facto marriage without undertaking the duties and obligations.
  2. Any other interpretation would lead the woman to homelessness and destitution which the provision of maintenance in Section 125 is meant to prevent.
  3. The judgment was based on an appeal filed by a woman against a Karnataka High Court decision of June 2009.
  4. The High Court set aside a family court order, directing the man she lived with since 1998, and had two children by, to pay maintenance.
  5. The family court had ordered him to pay the woman ₹3000 and the children ₹2500 each on a monthly basis.
  6. The court said they were accepted as husband and wife by society.
Oct, 15, 2018

[op-ed snap] Helping the invisible hands of agriculture


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Feminization of Agriculture in India


Feminization of Agriculture

  1. Women play a pivotal role in agricultural operations such as from sowing to planting, drainage, irrigation, fertilizer, plant protection, harvesting, weeding, and storage.
  2. With the feminization picking up pace, the challenges women farmers face can no longer be ignored
  3. The Agri Ministry has proposed deliberations to discuss the challenges that women farmers face in crop cultivation, animal husbandry, dairying and fisheries.
  4. The aim is to work towards an action plan using better access to credit, skill development and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Data and reality

  1. According to Oxfam India, women are responsible for about 60-80% of food and 90% of dairy production, respectively.
  2. The work by women farmers, in crop cultivation, livestock management or at home, often goes unnoticed.
  3. Attempts by the government to impart them training in poultry, apiculture and rural handicrafts is trivial given their large numbers.

What Agriculture Census has to say?

  1. The Census (2010-11) shows that out of an estimated 118.7 million cultivators, 30.3% were females.
  2. Similarly, out of an estimated 144.3 million agricultural labourers, 42.6% were females.
  3. In terms of ownership of operational holdings, the latest Agriculture Census (2015-16) is startling.
  4. Out of a total 146 million operational holdings, the percentage share of female operational holders is 13.87% (20.25 million), a nearly one percentage increase over five years.
  5. While the feminization is taking place at a fast pace, the government has yet to gear up to address the challenges that women farmers and labourers face.

Issues hovering women farmers:


(I) Issue of land ownership

  1. The biggest challenge is the powerlessness of women in terms of claiming ownership of the land they have been cultivating.
  2. In Census 2015, almost 86% of women farmers are devoid of this property right in land perhaps on account of the patriarchal set up in our society.
  3. Notably, a lack of ownership of land does not allow women farmers to approach banks for institutional loans as banks usually consider land as collateral.

(II) Lack of Access to Credit

  1. Research worldwide shows that women with access to secure land, formal credit and access to market have greater propensity.
  2. They performed better by making investments in improving harvest, increasing productivity, and improving household food security and nutrition.
  3. Better access to credit, technology, and provision of entrepreneurship abilities will further boost women’s confidence and help them gain recognition as farmers.

(III) Under-represented and Un-organized

  1. As of now, women farmers have hardly any representation in society and are nowhere discernible in farmers’ organisations or in occasional protests.
  2. They are the invisible workers without which the agricultural economy is hard to grow.

(IV) Land Holdings are on Decline

  1. Land holdings have doubled over the years with the result that the average size of farms has shrunk.
  2. Therefore, a majority of farmers fall under the small and marginal category, having less than 2 ha of land — a category that, undisputedly, includes women farmers.
  3. A declining size of land holdings may act as a deterrent due to lower net returns earned and technology adoption.

(V) The Unshared Double Responsibility

  1. Female cultivators and labourers generally perform labour-intensive tasks (hoeing, grass cutting, weeding, picking, cotton stick collection, looking after livestock).
  2. In addition to working on the farm, they have household and familial responsibilities.
  3. Despite more work (paid and unpaid) for longer hours when compared to male farmers, women farmers can neither make any claim on output nor ask for a higher wage rate.
  4. An increased work burden with lower compensation is a key factor responsible for their marginalization.

(VI) Lesser access to Resources

  1. Most farm machinery is difficult for women to operate.
  2. When compared to men, women generally have less access to resources and modern inputs (seeds, fertilizers, pesticides) to make farming more productive.
  3. The FAO says that equalizing access to productive resources for female and male farmers could increase agricultural output in developing countries by as much as 2.5% to 4%.

How can women farmers be better facilitated?


(A) Easy Credit Facility:

Provision of credit without collateral under the micro-finance initiative of the NABARD should be encouraged.

(B)Better Education and Training:

Krishi Vigyan Kendras in every district can be assigned an additional task to educate and train women farmers about innovative technology along with extension services.

(C) Farm Mechanization should be Gender Friendly:

  • It is important to have gender-friendly tools and machinery for various farm operations.
  • Manufacturers should be incentivized to come up with better and women friendly machineries.
  • Farm machinery banks and custom hiring centres promoted by many State governments can be roped in to provide subsidized rental services to women farmers.

(C) Promoting Collective Farming

  • The possibility of collective farming can be encouraged to make women self-reliant.
  • Training and skills imparted to women as has been done by some self-help groups and cooperative-based dairy activities (Saras in Rajasthan and Amul in Gujarat).
  • These can be explored further through farmer producer organisations.

(D) Facilitating with open Policies:

  • Govt flagship schemes such as the National Food Security Mission, Sub-mission on Seed and Planting Material and the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana should include women-centric strategies and dedicated expenditure.
  • In order to sustain women’s interest in farming and also their uplift, there must be a vision backed by an appropriate policy and doable action plans.

Way Forward

  1. As more women are getting into farming, the foremost task for their sustenance is to assign property rights in land.
  2. Once women farmers are listed as primary earners and owners of land assets, their acceptance will ensue.
  3. Their activities will expand to acquiring loans, deciding the crops to be grown using appropriate technology and machines, and disposing of produce to village traders or in wholesale markets.
  4. They will get socio-economic cognizance of their work thus elevating their place as real and visible farmers.
Oct, 15, 2018

2013 Justice Verma panel report wanted changes to sexual harassment law


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Social empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MeToo movement

Mains level: The newscard discusses efficacy of present mechanism to curb sexual harassment at workplaces based on Verma Committee recommendations of 2013.



  1. The WCD minister has recently announced its plan to set up a panel of judges to look into the legal and institutional framework to curb sexual harassment at workplaces following the #MeToo campaign on social media.
  2. However, as early as 2013, the Justice J.S. Verma Committee, in its report on gender laws which would have proven efficient to tackle issue.

Justice Verma Committee Recommendations

  1. The panel was formed in the aftermath Nirbhaya gangrape Case in 2012 and the ensuing nationwide protests, and submitted its report on January 23, 2013.
  2. At that time of the submission of the report, the SHWWA bill had already been pending in Upper house of Parliament.
  3. The Committee termed the Bill “unsatisfactory” and said it did not reflect the spirit of the Vishakha guidelines — framed by the Supreme Court in 1997 to curb sexual harassment at the workplace.
  4. The report noted that an ICC under the SHWWA would be “counter-productive” as dealing with such complaints in-house could discourage women from filing complaints.
  5. Instead, the committee proposed forming an employment tribunal to receive and adjudicate all complaints.
  6. To ensure speedy disposal of complaints, the Committee proposed that the tribunal should not function as a civil court but may choose its own procedure to deal with each complaint.
  7. The panel also said that the time-limit of three months to file a complaint should be done away with and a complainant should not be transferred without her consent.

Onus on employer

  1. The Committee said any unwelcome behaviour should be seen from the subjective perception of the complainant, thus broadening the scope of the definition of sexual harassment.
  2. The Verma panel said an employer could be held liable:
  • if he or she facilitated sexual harassment,
  • permitted an environment where sexual misconduct becomes widespread and systemic,
  • where the employer fails to disclose the company’s policy on sexual harassment and ways in which workers can file a complaint
  • if employer fails to forward a complaint to the tribunal.
  1. The company would also be liable to pay compensation to the complainant.

Encouraging Women to file complaints

  1. The panel also made several suggestions to encourage women to come forward and file complaints.
  2. For instance, it opposed penalizing women for false complaints and called it an abusive provision intended to nullify the objective of the law.
Oct, 13, 2018

Govt steps in to look into issues arising from #MeToo


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Women empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: MeToo movement

Mains level: Less reporting of sexual harassment cases and need of better mechanisms to deal with such cases



  • With more and more women going public with their experiences of sexual harassment at the hands of filmmakers, journalists, corporate bosses and Ministers, WCD ministry announced it will establish a committee to look into the issues being raised.

Setting up a Legal Panel

  1. WCD ministry will set up a committee of senior judicial and legal persons to look into the issues that are coming out of the #MeToo movement.
  2. The committee will look into the legal & institutional framework which is in place for handling complaints of sexual harassment at work
  3. The panel will advise the WCD ministry on how to strengthen these frameworks.
  4. It will include four retired judges and a strong lawyer as an amicus and will conduct independent hearings.

Hearing to be like Nirbhaya Case

  1. The public hearings will not be for individual complaints, but where stakeholders can come and depose before the committee if they wish to.
  2. A similar process was followed by the Justice Verma Committee set up to reform the laws against rape after the December 16, 2012 gangrape incident.

Some initiatives for immediate reporting

  • She-Box” portal
  • #HelpMeWCD using Tweet
  • Internal Complaints Committees (ICC) under SHWW Act
Oct, 10, 2018

Explained: When a woman is harassed at work


Mains Paper 1: Social Issues | Role of women & women’s organization, Women Empowerment

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the SHWW Act

Mains level: The newscard briefly discusses the powers and privileges of an aggrieved SH victim at workplace.


#MeToo gearing-in  in India

  1. Over the last several days, a number of women in India have called out influential men — actors, standup comics, senior journalists for alleged sexual harassment.
  2. Some of these allegations relate to actions of then colleagues of the women.

Law against Sexual Harassment

  1. The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act (SHWWA) was passed in 2013.
  2. The rights of all women working or visiting any workplace, in any capacity, are protected under the Act.
  3. It defines sexual harassment, lays down the procedures for a complaint and inquiry, and the action to be taken. It broadens the Vishaka guidelines, which were already in place.

Vishaka guidelines

  1. These were laid down by the Supreme Court in a judgment in 1997.
  2. This was on a case filed by women’s rights groups, one of which was Vishaka.
  3. Legally binding, these defined sexual harassment and imposed three key obligations on institutions — prohibition, prevention, redress.
  4. The Supreme Court directed that they establish a Complaints Committee, which would look into matters of sexual harassment of women at the workplace.

2013 Act broadening the sense

  1. It mandates that every employer constitute an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) at each office or branch with 10 or more employees.
  2. It lays down procedures and defines various aspects of sexual harassment.
  3. An aggrieved victim is a woman “of any age whether employed or not”, who “alleges to have been subjected to any act of sexual harassment”.
  4. Additionally, the Act mentions five circumstances that amount to sexual harassment —
  • implied or explicit promise of preferential treatment in her employment;
  • implied or explicit threat of detrimental treatment;
  • implied or explicit threat about her present or future employment status;
  • interference with her work or creating an offensive or hostile work environment;
  • humiliating treatment likely to affect her health or safety.

Defining Sexual Harassment at Work

  1. Sexual harassment (SH) includes “any one or more” of the following “unwelcome acts or behaviour” committed directly or by implication:
  • Physical contact and advance
  • A demand or request for sexual favours
  • Sexually coloured remarks
  • Showing pornography
  • Any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.
  1. The WCD Ministry has published a Handbook on Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace with more detailed instances of behaviour that constitutes sexual harassment at the workplace.
  2. These include, broadly:
  • Sexually suggestive remarks or innuendos; serious or repeated offensive remarks; inappropriate questions or remarks about a person’s sex life
  • Display of sexist or offensive pictures, posters, MMS, SMS, WhatsApp, or emails
  • Intimidation, threats, blackmail around sexual favours; also, threats, intimidation or retaliation against an employee who speaks up about these
  • Unwelcome social invitations with sexual overtones, commonly seen as flirting
  • Unwelcome sexual advances.
  1. The Handbook says “unwelcome behaviour” is experienced when the victim feels bad or powerless; it causes anger/sadness or negative self-esteem.
  2. It adds unwelcome behaviour is one which is “illegal, demeaning, invading, one-sided and power based”.

Mandate of the ICC

  1. Technically, it is not compulsory for an aggrieved person to file a complaint for action.
  2. The Act says the aggrieved victim “may” make, in writing, a complaint of sexual harassment.
  3. If she cannot, any member of the ICC “shall” render “all reasonable assistance” to her for making the complaint in writing.
  4. And if the woman is unable to make a complaint on account of her “physical or mental incapacity or death or otherwise”, her legal heir may do so.

Time Frame for raising Complaint

  1. The Act states the complaint of sexual harassment has to be made “within three months from the date of the incident”.
  2. For a series of incidents, it has to be made within three months from the date of the last incident. However, this is not rigid.
  3. The ICC can “extend the time limit” if “it is satisfied that the circumstances were such which prevented the woman from filing a complaint within the said period”.

Provision of Inquiry

  1. Section 10 of the SHWWA deals with conciliation.
  2. The ICC “may”, before inquiry, and “at the request of the aggrieved woman, take steps to settle the matter.
  3. It can be done provided that “no monetary settlement shall be made as a basis of conciliation”.

Inquiry Process

  1. The ICC may forward the complaint to the police under IPC Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman; maximum punishment one year jail with fine).
  2. Otherwise, the ICC can start an inquiry that has to be completed within 90 days.
  3. ICC has similar powers to those of a civil court in respect of the following matters: summoning and examining any person on oath; requiring the discovery and production of documents.
  4. While the inquiry is on, if the woman makes a written request, the ICC “may” recommend her transfer, leave for three months, or any other relief to her as may be prescribed.
  5. The identity of the woman, respondent, witness, any information on the inquiry, recommendation and action taken, the Act states, should not be made public.

Prosecution of the Convict

  1. If the allegations are proved, the ICC recommends that the employer take action for sexual harassment for misconduct “in accordance with the provisions of the service rules” of the company.
  2. It also recommends that the company deduct from the salary of the person found guilty, “as it may consider appropriate”.
  3. Compensation is determined based on five aspects: suffering and emotional distress caused to the woman; loss in career opportunity; her medical expenses; income and financial status of the respondent; and the feasibility of such payment.

Preventing Misuse of the Act

  1. Section 14 of the Act deals with punishment for false or malicious complaint and false evidence.
  2. In such a case, the ICC “may recommend” to the employer that it take action against the woman, or the person who has made the complaint, in “accordance with the provisions of the service rules”.
  3. The Act, however, makes it clear, that action cannot be taken for “mere inability” to “substantiate the complaint or provide adequate proof”.
Oct, 05, 2018

[pib] First Regional Conference on 'Women in Detention and Access to Justice'


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Details of the Conference

Mains level: Prison Reforms in India


‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’

  1. The Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPR&D), Ministry of Home Affairs is organising the First ever Regional Conference at Shimla on ‘Women in Detention and Access to Justice’.
  2. The BPR&D organizes the conferences on newly emerged issues.
  3. The Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women on this subject has made several recommendations.
  4. There is a need to deliberate upon some of the recommendations to devise strategies and programs for bettering conditions of Women Prisoners and upholding their FRs.
  5. The following themes have been identified for discussions and deliberations:
  • Reproductive Health Rights of Women Prisoners: National and International Legal Norms
  • Health Needs of Women Prisoners
  • Health, Skill, Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Women Inmates and Their Children
  • Prison Reforms, Structural Managerial and Legal Issues with Focus on Women Inmates & Comparison to Global Norms
  • Neuro-Criminology Program for the Offender
  • Transforming Prisons

Aim of the Conference

  1. This conference is organised with a view to provide a platform for the prison personnel of all ranks at the national level.
  2. They are expected to share their candid views on various operational as well as administrative issues.
  3. It is aimed to identify best practices and standards in the working of Correctional Administration to meet new challenges in the present day’s context to bring out prison reforms in objective terms.
  4. Expected outcome of the conference will be to help in ensuring better implementation of Prison Reform and Rehabilitation Program in order to improve the conditions of Women Inmates and their Access to Justice.
Sep, 24, 2018

[op-ed snap] Women can change the rural landscape


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes & the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Importance of SHGs especially that run by women for ensuring development as well as financial inclusion in the Indian economy


Analysis of women’s SHGs

  1. As we approach M.K. Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, it is perhaps fitting to revisit the Gandhian approach to rural development
  2. In this context, an analysis of the idea of women self-help groups (SHGs) as a vehicle to transform the rural landscape would be timely
  3. These SHGs can act as powerful institutions of participation and can contribute to India’s growth trajectory

About SHGs

  1. SHGs are essentially diminutive and economically homogeneous groups of rural poor
  2. Mostly they consist of 10-15 members
  3. The underlying philosophy guiding an SHG is that members periodically save a small amount of money, unanimously agreeing to make a contribution to a common pool
  4. United leadership coupled with an informal horizontal network helps to create social capital among the poor, especially among the women
  5. They act as safety nets to achieve twin goals—economic security and social well-being

Relevance of SHGs

  1. Women SHGs can be an avenue for achieving the goal of financial inclusion by making women’s access to the banking system easier and hassle-free
  2. This happens because SHGs filter out the potentially high-risk borrowers through local information
  3. As a result, banks are more willing to lend as it minimizes their risk

Solving banks problem of selection

  1. The creation of women SHGs helps finesse the widespread problem of adverse selection that plagues the Indian banking system
  2. Under normal circumstances, when a bank lends money to a potential borrower, creditworthiness is seen as an essential prerequisite
  3. More often than not, banks do not have access to relevant local information regarding the creditworthiness of the borrower, which can either lead to denial of credit or increasing number of defaults and bad debts
  4. However, in the case of women SHGs, women entrepreneurs possess the required local information regarding potential members, which banks do not
  5. As SHGs are based on the sound principle of joint liability, a woman entrepreneur would be pairing up with a creditworthy and low-risk partner

NPA problem not created

  1. The problem of a non-performing asset (NPA) arises in two cases
  2. One, when there is no asset creation, to begin with
  3. Two, when there is asset creation, but the asset fails to generate enough cash flow because of various reasons
  4. The SHGs are built on the concept of joint liability, there is a common interest, which ensures the creation of an asset
  5. Also, as each and every member has joint and individual liability to pay off the loan, the problem of moral hazard (inability of the bank to observe the efforts of the debtor) is circumvented

Reducing socioeconomic disadvantage of women

  1. It is no secret that women suffer from a vast range of socioeconomic disadvantages in India
  2. This includes being denied basic rights that range from the freedom to engage in economic activities to the right to choose their calling in life
  3. The access to credit through the SHG channel helps women to break through these barriers
  4. By bringing women into the financial net, SHGs act as potent agents of change that go a long way in empowering them and, consequently, their families as well
  5. Financially empowered, they find themselves in a better position to assert themselves in family matters such as family planning, child education, financial investments

Way Forward

  1. SHGs are a realistic, viable and sustainable option for achieving rural development objectives
  2. A greater push for the creation of more SHGs in rural India is needed
  3. This will help reduce the dependence of women borrowers on informal sources of credit and help work towards their continual inclusion into the formal financial system
  4. Women SHGs can potentially be a potent means of breaking free from the vicious circle of poverty
Sep, 20, 2018

[op-ed snap] Digitally empowering women in rural India


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Empowerment of women by addressing digital gender gap


Addressing digital gender divide

  1. Bridging the gender gap in mobile ownership and digital literacy in both urban and rural India may increase the agency of women and help dismantle social norms that have been holding them back for decades
  2. Addressing the gender divide in digital literacy is perhaps necessary to ensure inequality of opportunity across gender does not widen in an India where the digital economy is expected to multiply by five times by 2023

How can digital transfer of money help women?

  1. The women beneficiaries get an improved household bargaining power
  2.  The mobile-transfer beneficiaries are more likely to obtain the transfer on their own as opposed to relying on their husbands
  3. They are more likely to travel to weekly markets and be involved in selling household grain than the manual cash transfer recipients

Kenya model of digital empowerment

  1. The M-Pesa mobile money service has gained much traction in development circles in the past year
  2. M-Pesa is a service that allows users to store monetary value on their phones and transfer to others via text message
  3. A research suggests that access to M-Pesa has uplifted 2% of Kenya’s households out of poverty
  4. The results are most compelling for female beneficiaries
  5. There is a change in the financial behaviour of these women, particularly saving behaviour
  6. This has translated into their altering occupational choices by graduating from subsistence agriculture and multiple part-time jobs to business ownership
  7. This could be a result of direct access to remittances through M-Pesa, and therefore, increased agency
  8. This could also be because these women may have not been primary earning members in their households, and were constrained before they had access to mobile money

Role of mobile phones in increasing women’s agency

  1. Digital inclusion can empower women not only through improving their individual agency but also by dismantling hostile norms surrounding gender
  2. A study on mobile phone ownership and usage by women in India, using 2004-2005 National Family Health Survey cross-sectional data, found that households, where women had mobile phones, reported lower tolerance for domestic violence and higher women’s autonomy in mobility and economic independence

Way Forward

  1. India’s changing digital landscape is offering tremendous scope for women’s empowerment, and evidence from rigorous research suggests how mobile phone usage can transform women’s household agency and workforce participation
  2. This calls for a greater effort to close the gender gap in digital literacy, and more innovation in integrating mobile phone usage with social welfare programmes
  3. There has never been a more pertinent time to bridge the gender digital divide
Sep, 01, 2018

[pib] Krishna Kutir, a home for 1000 widows inaugurated


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Krishna Kutir

Mains level: Welfare measures for helpless, shelterless Women in India.



The Minister for Women & Child Development, along with CM of Uttar Pradesh, inaugurated the widows’ home ‘Krishna Kutir’ at a function at Vrindavan, Mathura, Uttar Pradesh.

Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir is a special home for 1000 widows set up by the Ministry of WCD under Swadhar Greh scheme of the Ministry and is the largest ever facility of its kind created by a government organization.
  2. The Ministry took cognizance of this shocking condition of widows living in Vrindavan who refused to go back to their native place or their home.
  3. In order to provide dignified and humane living conditions to them, the Ministry, as a special case, constructed this Krishna Kutir at the temple town of Vrindavan with all the required facilities
  4. Widows will be a part of various committees which will be formed to manage the widows’ home.

Particulars of the Krishna Kutir

  1. Krishna Kutir has been constructed on 1.4 hectare of land through National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) with a capacity of 1000 inmates.
  2. It has beautifully made 100 rooms/dormitories.
  3. The design of the Home has been prepared in consultation with Helpage India and is old age friendly.
  4. The facility is also equipped with a large modern kitchen and a skill cum training centre.

Why shelter for Widows?

The widows’ home has been constructed by the WCD Ministry to mitigate the plight of widows living in pathetic condition in Vrindavan.

Other Initiatives

  1.  UP Government has become the first State to link the women’s helpline 181 to the One Stop Centres.
  2. UP has also provided rescue vans for women in distress in every district.


Swadhar Greh Scheme

To read more about Scheme, navigate to this Page-


Aug, 31, 2018

Now marriage certificate must for official work in Meghalaya


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not Much

Mains level: The newscard highlights unique matrilineal tradition of Khasi Community and government measures to protect these marriages.


Marriage certificate now Mandatory

  1. The State govt. in matrilineal Meghalaya has made it mandatory for married people to produce marriage certificates for all official purposes.
  2. The govt. has also decided to deny government jobs and benefits to men who have abandoned their families and are not providing for maintenance of their children.
  3. All govt. departments have been asked to ensure that individuals, if married, are made to submit copies of their marriage certificates for all official purposes.

Protecting women against broken marriage

  1. The step has been taken in view of increasing cases of broken marriages and women being forced to fend for themselves and their children.
  2. It was pointed out that the abandonment of families by men lead to a spike in school dropouts and juvenile crimes.
  3. It sought implementation of the Meghalaya Compulsory Registration of Marriage Act, 2012.

Fight for maintenance

  1. The government’s order cannot stop divorce, but marriage certificates will help abandoned women fight for the maintenance of their children after their husbands abandon them.
  2. Most marriages in the Khasi society are not registered, and this makes it difficult for abandoned women to fight for the maintenance of their children.
Aug, 09, 2018

[op-ed snap] India’s wrong approach to paid maternity leave


Mains Paper 2: Governance | mechanisms, laws, institutions & Bodies constituted for the protection & betterment of these vulnerable sections

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Changes in the maternity benefits act and its impact on women


Declining percentage of women in the workforce

  1. A common concern for India and the US is the decline or stagnation in female labour force participation in recent decades
  2. In India, not only have female LFP rates been lower than other comparable economies, the trend reveals declining rates over time

Adverse consequences expected

  1. While India has had a maternity leave policy on the books since 1961, it recently expanded the law in 2017
  2. Now, there are increasing concern and speculation that the law may have the unintended consequence of worsening the labour market for women, who already deal with social stigmas often associated with working women

Why would the policy backfire?

  1. India’s maternity benefit amendment offers new mothers 26 weeks of paid leave from their workplace, with an average wage replacement rate of 100%
  2. The policy is problematic because it is imposed as an employer mandate
  3. Employers have to bear the entire cost of providing leave to employees
  4. This is in terms of both continued pay while on leave, as well as the indirect cost of having to get the work done by employing other workers to finish the work of the absent employee
  5. This raises the concern that employers will begin to discriminate against women of childbearing age, both in hiring as well as in salaries, since this group is entitled to the benefit of paid family leave and is most likely to use it

Need of an employee payroll tax

  1. The solution could lie in imposing the cost of the paid leave policy on employees through a tax
  2. While employers would provide job-protected leave, the wage replacement could be funded through an employee payroll tax
  3. The tax should be levied only on employees to minimize any additional costs on the employer when providing paid leave

Gender neutrality essential

  1. An important aspect of the design of such a policy is gender neutrality
  2. It is critical in today’s day and age that any paid leave law be gender-neutral and thus available to both fathers and mothers
  3. This ensures that the onus of childcare is not placed solely on the mother, and instead places it on both parents
  4. At the same time, it recognizes the important role that fathers can play in the early years of a child’s birth

Way Forward

  1. What India gets right about the maternity leave law is that it is a federal law guaranteeing uniform access to paid leave to all eligible employees across the country
  2. But there is much that can be improved about the design of the policy to ensure that it works well not only for workers but also businesses
Jul, 27, 2018

[pib] Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Scheme

Mains level: Women empowerment through community participation


Ministry of Women and Child Development  has approved a new scheme namely Mahila Shakti Kendra for implementation during 2017-18 upto 2019-20 to empower rural women through community participation.

Mahila Shakti Kendra Scheme

  1. The scheme is envisaged to work at various levels and at the national level (domain based knowledge support) and state level (State Resource Centre for Women) technical support to the respective governments on issues related to women.
  2. It is implemented with cost sharing ratio of 60:40 between centre and states except for North East and Special Category States where the ratio is 90:10.

Provisions of the Scheme

  1. Community engagement through College Student Volunteers is envisioned in 115 aspirational districts as part of the Block Level initiatives.
  2. Student volunteers are to play an instrumental role in awareness generation regarding various important government schemes/ programmes as well as social issues.
  3. District Level Centre for Women (DLCW) has also been envisaged for 640 districts to be covered in phased manner.
  4. These centres to serve as a link between village, block and state level in facilitating women centric schemes and also give foothold for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme at the district level.
Jul, 26, 2018

[op-ed snap] The Sabarimala singularity


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala case and its impact on various constitutional provisions


Sabarimala case hearing by SC

  1. The Supreme Court is currently hearing oral arguments in Indian Young Lawyers Association v. State of Kerala
  2. In this case, rules that bar the entry of women aged between 10 and 50 years into the Sabarimala temple in Kerala have been called into question

Contradictions in the case

  1. To prohibit women from entering a public space, from worshipping in a shrine of their choice, one would think, ought to be anathema to the tenets of a constitutional democracy
  2. But the religious freedom clauses in the Constitution are possessed of a special complexity, which the court’s own past jurisprudence has turned into a quagmire of contradictions

Freedom of religion

  1. Generally, the right to freedom of religion of both individuals and groups is recognised as an intrinsic facet of a liberal democracy
  2. The Constitution memorialises these guarantees in Articles 25 and 26
  3. The former recognises a right to freedom of conscience and a right to freely profess, practise, and propagate religion, subject to common community exceptions of public order, morality, and health, and also, crucially, to the guarantee of other fundamental rights
  4. Article 25(2)(b) creates a further exception to the right. It accords to the state a power to make legislation, in the interests of social welfare and reform, throwing open Hindu religious institutions of a public character to all classes and sections of Hindus
  5. Article 26, on the other hand, which is also subject to limitations imposed on grounds of public order, morality, and health, accords to every religious denomination the right, among other things, to establish and maintain institutions for religious purposes and to manage their own affairs in matters of religion

Different clauses under consideration

  1. Until now, most cases involving a bar of entry into temples have involved a testing of laws made in furtherance of Article 25(2)(b)
  2. The court upheld the law on the ground that statutes made under clause 2(b) to Article 25 served as broad exceptions to the freedom of religion guaranteed by both Articles 25 and 26
  3. In Indian Young Lawyers Association case, the attack is to the converse
  4. It is to Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965, which states, “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship”
  5. It is by placing reliance on these rules that the Sabarimala temple prohibits women aged between 10 and 50 years from entering the shrine

Clash of conflicting claims

  1. At play, therefore, in the case is a clash between a series of apparently conflicting claims:
  • involving the temple’s right to decide for itself how its religious affairs ought to be managed,
  • the rights of a community of devotees who believe that a bar on women’s entry is an essential religious practice, and
  • the rights of those women seeking to assert not only their freedom to unreservedly enter and pray at the shrine but also their rights to be recognised as equals under the Constitution

Essential religious practice doctrine

  1. Traditionally, to resolve tensions of this kind, the Supreme Court has relied on a very particular jurisprudence that it has carved for itself to determine what manners of rituals and beliefs deserve special constitutional protection
  2. This doctrine requires the court to define what constitutes, in its own words, an “essential religious practice”
  3. The petitioners have argued that the ban enforced on menstruating women from entering the Sabarimala shrine does not constitute a core foundation of the assumed religious denomination
  4. On the other hand, the Devaswom Board contends that established customs deserve respect, that this particular Lord Ayyappa in Sabarimala is a celibate, and that women of menstruating age are, therefore, forbidden from entering the temple

What needs to be done?

  1. Once the court finds that the Sabarimala temple does not represent a separate denomination, the court must ask itself whether it should yield to the temple’s view on an assumption that there does exist a time-honoured custom prohibiting any women aged between 10 and 50 years from praying at the shrine
  2. On such a study, the court will undoubtedly notice that most policies of exclusion in India’s history have been defended as being extensions of a prescription of faith, of being rooted in culture and tradition
  3. The court should see this as an opportunity not to rationalise religious practices, but to overturn its existing passé ideas on the subject
  4. If the court can look beyond the essential practices doctrine and see this case for what it really is — a denial to women not only of their individual rights to freedom of religion but also of equal access to public space — it can help set the tone for a radical re-reading of the Constitution

Way Forward

  1. A law favouring the autonomy of the group over the autonomy of the individual tends to have the harmful effect of favouring the view of the association proffered by the powerful over the views proffered by less powerful members of the group that is, traditionally subordinate members such as women, children, and sexual minorities
  2. The Constitution must be seen as representing not a hoary conception of boundaries between the state and the individual, but as a transcendental tool for social revolution
Jul, 18, 2018

[op-ed snap] Educating girls can improve India’s health outcomes


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Population & associated issues

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Op-ed is full of vital statistical data

Mains level: Various outcomes associated with girl’s education


Countering worst health outcomes

  1. India has some of the world’s worst public health outcomes, but educating girls can change that.
  2. Nationally, according to 2017 government data, 34 out of every 1,000 newborns will not survive till their first birthday, of which 25 would not have lived beyond their first 28 days.
  3. These figures are improving, because of concerted efforts by the national programme—but the gap is much too large for a country aspiring to be a world-beater on most fronts.

Female literacy = Delayed marriage

  1. Ensuring that the girl child is educated sets off a virtuous chain reaction—improved literacy leading to a delayed age of marriage, fewer and healthier children and a corresponding reduction in poverty.
  2. There are enough cases of girls whose families place greater priority on having their daughters finish school and perhaps college.
  3. These parents say they see a better overall future for their daughters if they are educated.

What data says?

  1. Data comparing two states that lead in terms of welfare indicators (Kerala and Tamil Nadu) and two that lag (Bihar and Uttar Pradesh) is revealing. All figures cited here are the most recent government data.
  2. Female literacy rates in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are 92% and 73.9%, respectively, while the same rates for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are about half, at 42.2% and 33.1%, respectively.
  3. Average age at marriage for women in these states is 21.4 for Kerala and 21.2 for Tamil Nadu, above the national average of 20.7 years.
  4. The same figures for Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are significantly lower at 19.4 and 19.5, respectively.

Female literacy + delayed marriage = Fewer babies per woman

  1. In many parts of rural India, there is immense pressure on women to produce boys, who will supposedly be the “breadwinners”.
  2. The sex ratio at birth (girls born per 1,000 boys) has fallen and is only around 800 in some North Indian states. Multiple pregnancies with inadequate spacing adversely affect the health of mother and child.
  3. The good news is that where there has been an improvement in literacy and delayed marriage, the fertility rate (average number of children per woman) has reduced.
  4. Kerala (1.7) and Tamil Nadu (1.6) perform better than the national average of 2.3, while Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are significantly worse at 3.1 and 3.3, respectively, though these figures are improving.

Female literacy + delayed marriage + fewer babies per woman = Higher child survival

  1. A woman who is educated, older when she gets married and plans fewer babies will proactively seek out good antenatal care.
  2. The percentage of women receiving full antenatal care is 61.2 and 45 in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, respectively.
  3. These figures are only 5.9 and 3.3 in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, respectively, though improving. Fewer babies receiving better care mean that fewer children die in their first four weeks.
  4. The neonatal mortality rate in all states is improving, but Kerala and Tamil Nadu are way ahead of the national average (28), with figures of 6 and 15, respectively.

A Chain Reaction: Lowering poverty in the long run

  1. As families become smaller and children survive and thrive, they can spend more productively, and improve their economic situation.
  2. Between 2004 and 2011, the percentage of population below the poverty line in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar registered slight improvements from 32.8 to 29.4, and 41.4 to 33.7, respectively.
  3. The percentage of population below the poverty line for Kerala and Tamil Nadu halved from 15 to 7.1 and 22.5 to 11.3, respectively.

Way Forward

  1. States that invested in education and health earlier are alleviating poverty faster now.
  2. China is a global benchmark for how these social investments, made decades ago, formed the foundation for that country’s rapid economic growth.
  3. Ensuring that the girl child is educated sets off a virtuous chain reaction—improved literacy leading to a delayed age of marriage, fewer and healthier children and a corresponding reduction in poverty.
Jul, 14, 2018

Year since Group of Ministers nod, draft national women’s policy stuck


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: National Policy for Women and its key provisions


National Policy for Women pending approval

  1. This month marks a year since the draft National Policy for Women is pending approval of the government
  2. The policy, mooted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, was passed with some modifications by the Group of Ministers in July 2017

Changed perspective

  1. The draft policy is a revision of the first National Policy for Women, firmed up in 2001
  2. It marks a shift from the previous policy’s view of women as welfare recipients to taking a rights-based approach
  3. The policy recommends for 33 per cent reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state Assemblies, and at least 50 per cent quota in all local bodies
  4. The provision for greater representation for women in the political arena was to be a significant part of such an approach to creating an enabling environment through affirmative action

Key proposals

  1. The draft talks of promoting women’s presence in all three branches of the government — the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary — as also in corporate boardrooms
  2. It mandates one-third reservation for women in the police force and also details the need to look at policies across all ministries through a gendered lens
  3. A key recommendation in the draft policy is making it mandatory for every ministry to maintain sex-disaggregated data on all schemes and programmes
  4. Noting that India’s data system has remained largely gender neutral, it states that for better policy formulation, data has to be disaggregated as per gender especially on issues concerning poverty, economic participation, violence, environment, health, education, governance, and media
  5. It also asked for qualitative data on the impact on men of policies regarding paternity leave, gender-based violence, and gender equality
  6. It focuses on emerging gender issues, such as those relating to single women, a segment that has grown by 39 per cent between 2001 and 2011, or the growing incidence of cybercrime

Implementation of the policy

  1. The policy was to be operationalised and its implementation monitored through an inter-ministerial committee headed by Women and Child Development (WCD)
  2. Similar state-level committees were to be set up, headed by the respective chief ministers
Jul, 13, 2018

Failure to educate girls could cost world $30 trillion a year: World Bank report


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Enrloment ratio of girls in primary & secondary education across the world and how it leads to poor life quality for them


Low enrolment of girls

  1. More than 130 million girls are out of school globally, the World Bank said
  2. About 132 million girls worldwide aged 6 to 17 do not attend school, while fewer than two-thirds of those in low-income nations finish primary school, and only a third finish lower secondary school
  3. Failing to let girls finish their education could cost the world as much as $30 trillion in lost earnings and productivity annually

Positive impacts of completing secondary school education for girls

  1. Women who have completed secondary education are more likely to work and earn on average nearly twice as much as those with no schooling
  2. Women who have completed secondary education are at lesser risk of suffering violence at the hands of their partners and have children who are less likely to be malnourished and themselves are more likely to go to school
  3. There will be a reduction in child marriage
  4. Lower fertility rates in countries with high population growth
  5. Reduced child mortality and malnutrition
Jul, 04, 2018

[op-ed snap] The marriage penalty on women in India


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Global Gender Gap Report, NFHS Data on female labour-force participation

Mains level: The newscard highlights major inevitable hurdles for the participation of Indian women in workforce which are less likely to be eased by policy reforms.


Marriage- the latent liability for women

  1. The discourse on economic development has become increasingly gendered, in recognition of both the ethical construct of equality between men and women and the realization that women’s empowerment generates positive externalities.
  2. Despite the pronounced gendered approach to policy initiatives recently in India, the country slipped 21 places between 2016 and 2017 in The Global Gender Gap Report released by the World Economic Forum.
  3. India’s low rank on gender parity in labour force participation (LFP) fell further, by four points, to 139 (among 144 countries).

The biggest constraint

  1. The observed decline in female LFP has been the largest and most significant for rural married women.
  2. In urban areas, while there has been no decline in participation by married women over time, the figure has been stagnating.
  3. On the other hand, there has been no fall in the employment rate for men in the same demographic group.

Few facts underlining this phenomenon

  1. In 2011, around 50% of unmarried women in the 15-60 age brackets were in the labour force, while the proportion for married women was 20%.
  2. There has been a rise in LFP rates among urban unmarried women between 1999-2011, from 37% to 50%, but, for married women, it has been stagnant for 30 years.
  3. For married and unmarried men, the participation rates are high (around 95%) and constant over time.

Marriage and Childcare- the only barrier

  1. With marriage almost being universal in India, the different trajectories that single and married women have followed clearly hint at marriage and consequent childcare as one of the important barriers in access to employment.
  2. Against a rapid increase in the number of years women get an education, an increase in age for marriage and a reduction in fertility levels, these trends seem contradictory to the trend of labour force participation seen in India.

What NFHS data says?

  1. The latest figures from the National Family Health Survey show that the average age at first marriage in India is 18 for rural and 19.4 for urban women.
  2. Age at first birth is 20 for rural, and 21 for urban, women.

Two realities that young girls face in our country

  1. First, there is a small window of opportunity to be economically active after completion of education and before marriage.
  2. Second, with universal marriage and expected child-bearing, there is little space between marriage and first child.
  3. While the number of children born to a woman has come down (two in urban areas and 2.5 in rural areas in 2015), this may not necessarily increase women’s labour force attachment if households place greater importance on the quality of their progeny.

Re-entry post Maternity

  1. A look at participation numbers at the cohort level shows that there is an increase in participation proportion from 17% in the early 20s to 22% in the early 30s.
  2. Even for women with graduate and higher level of education, it increases from approximately 13% in the early 20s to 28% in the early 30s.
  3. Childcare is clearly a constraint for married women and continues to remain a roadblock from the employment perspective.

Policy Initiatives – a glimmer of hope

  1. Adoption of technologies that potentially reduce the burden of housework—for instance, the Ujjwala programme’s subsidization of cooking gas, which can induce a shift towards cleaner fuel that also reduces cooking time–is one small but important step in the right direction.
  2. Under the Maternity Benefit Amendment Act (2016), provision of a crèche facility has become mandatory for establishments employing at least 50 individuals.
  3. But the Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme for the Children of Working Mothers, started by the government for low-income families, has been marred by poor infrastructure and limited benefits due to its flawed design.

Way Forward

  1. There is no silver bullet that works best in empowering women economically in our country.
  2. But the heart of the matter is that to get more women to work, we have to get them out of their homes.
  3. Hence, an exclusive focus on educating and skilling women or financial inclusiveness is unlikely to be effective unless policy measures address the constraints of childcare faced by married women.
  4. With patriarchal norms underlying the traditional role of men and women in households and non-marketization of childcare, coupled with a shift towards nuclear families, the burden of domestic work lies on women.
  5. At the same time, the absence of flexible work hours and easier physical access to work have been compounded by the persistent gender gap in wages.
Jun, 29, 2018

[op-ed snap] Ujjwala Revolution


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre & States & the performance of these schemes

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Mains level: Success of Ujjwala Yojana


Adoption of LPG has received a boost

  1. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) has completed two years of operation.
  2. During this time the number of LPG connections has crossed 4 crore, and LPG penetration in India has risen from 56% in 2014 to 80%.
  3. It is worth considering the usage pattern of PMUY customers who have been in the system for a year or more and have been buying four or more cylinders a year.

Proved by IOCL Data

  1. Data from the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL), which has given out almost half of the Ujjwala connections, suggest that between May 2016 and April 2017, IOCL enrolled 85.47 lakh Ujjwala customers.
  2. From May 2016 to April 2018, the average cylinder consumption of these customers was 4.4 per year, including the installation cylinder.
  3. One in five Ujjwala customers who enrolled in May 2016 is using seven cylinders annually, thus matching the national per capita consumption of 6.8 cylinders in 2017-18.

Role of “Pradhan Mantri LPG Panchayat”

  1. By sharing the vision of early adopters and ironing out service issues, the LPG Panchayats being held at village levels across India are helping more and more people appreciate the advantages of clean fuel.
  2. The adoption of LPG has received a boost with supplies ramping up and service improving.

Increased LPG Distributors

  1. In April 2014, there were 13,896 LPG distributors across India. This number is now 20,227.
  2. Another 3,750 distributorships will be commissioned in 2018-19.
  3. Similarly, the loan deferment policy, which has allowed the recovery of loan amounts from Ujjwala customers, has been deferred for their next six refills starting April 1, 2018.
  4. This allows customers to avail of the subsidy during this period.


Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

  1. PMUY is a welfare scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas to provide LPG connections to families below the poverty line, guided by the strong commitment to bring about changes in the life of poor women and also protect their health
  2. Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is used to identify the beneficiaries (adult woman of a BPL family) and is given a deposit free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs.1600 per connection by the centre
  3. This scheme will help prevent pollution and facilitate the healthy atmosphere in the families of poor people.
Jun, 28, 2018

Maternity perks may cost 1.8 million Indian women their jobs


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefits Law

Mains level: Impact of increased duration of maternity leave on the indusctrial sector as well as women workforce and reasons behind low participation of women in workforce


Opposite effect of Maternity law

  1. A new law to improve maternity benefits for women in India’s workforce and encourage them to further their careers is likely to have the opposite effect
  2. The law, which makes India the most progressive country after Canada and Norway in enabling women to stay on in the workforce, will probably lead to job losses and discourage smaller businesses and start-ups from hiring women
  3. Maternity Benefits Law entitles women working in the organized sector to 26 weeks paid maternity leave, up from 12 weeks

Job losses to happen

  1. An estimated 1.1 million to 1.8 million women will lose their jobs across 10 sectors in the financial year to March 2019 because of the law
  2. If this estimate is computed across all the sectors, the job loss number would be an estimated 10-12 million across all sectors
  3. Post-maternity retention could cost 80 percent to 90 percent of the annual salary for white-collar employees, and up to 135 percent of annual salary for blue-collar employees

Share of women in workforce decreasing

  1. The share of women in the workforce has shrunk to around 24 per cent in the fiscal year ended 2016 from 36 percent a decade earlier
  2. McKinsey and Co. estimates more than $700 billion could be added to the country’s gross domestic product by 2025 if more women were in jobs

Reasons behind shrinking women workforce

  1. In socially conservative India, women are often discouraged from pursuing a career
  2. Better-educated women from wealthier families aren’t encouraged to work and it’s usually when a man’s salary falls short that a woman seeks a job
  3. Many drop out to take care of older family members or children
Jun, 28, 2018

[pib] NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform


Mains Paper 1: Indian Society | Role of women and women’s organization.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WEP

Mains level: Promotion of Women Entrepreneurship in India


Why in news?

  1. NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP) signed five separate Statement of Intent (SoIs) with Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Limited, Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited, SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited, Sreemanta Sankar Mission and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).
  2. The SoIs signed with financial institutions will provide financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and address the finance-related challenges faced by them through WEP.

About WEP

  1. The WEP is an initiative under the NITI Aayog which was launched on March 8, 2018, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.
  2. The WEP intends to undertake this task through its partner organizations, private as well as public organizations;
  • by bringing their existing as well as new women-specific initiatives on a single platform, which in turn will also address knowledge gaps,
  • promote partner connects and will increase the outreach of partner programmes.
  1. Through its partner organizations, WEP aims to create opportunities and support women in order to help them realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale up innovative initiatives, and chalk out sustainable and long-term strategies for their businesses.
  2. NITI CEO announced the setting-up of a Women Entrepreneurship Platform in NITI Aayog at the conclusion of the 8th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Hyderabad in 2017 with an overarching theme of ‘Women first, Prosperity for All’.
Jun, 23, 2018

[pib] Ministry of Women & Child Development receives the ‘Best Performing Social Sector Ministry’ SKOCH Award


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Various initiatives by MoWCD at a glance

Mains level: Read the attached story 


Lauding the achievements of the Ministry of Women and Child Development in delivering the promises made and for its significant achievements and initiatives from the last 4 years, SKOCH has conferred the ‘Best performing Social Sector Ministry’.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao- a huge success

  1. Flagship schemes like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao have achieved huge success within a very short period of time.
  2. Under this scheme, efforts were made at National, regional and local level which led to behaviour change which is reflecting in the improved sex ration at birth.

Other lauded Initiatives of MoWCD

  1. 6 months maternity leave,
  2. Sexual Harassment at Work Place Act,
  3. SHe-box,
  4. One stop centers,
  5. Universal Women helpline (181),
  6. 33 percent reservation in police etc.

Forensic Analysis for Sexual assault cases

  1. Stressing that forensic analysis plays a critical role in nabbing the culprits in sexual assault cases, the foundation of  Sakhi Suraksha Advanced DNA Forensic Laboratory was laid in Chandigarh.
  2. 5 more advanced forensic labs would come up in Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune and Bhopal.
  3. Special forensic kits for rape cases will be provided to all police stations and hospitals.
  4. The funds for these kits will be provided from Nirbhaya Fund.
Jun, 22, 2018

[op-ed snap] The cost of the missing women in Indian politics


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution

Mains level: Representation of women in politics and ways to increase it


Low representation of women in democracy

  1. B.R. Ambedkar once said that “political power is the key to all social progress”
  2. In India, women suffer substantially greater socio-economic disadvantages than Western democracies
  3. A concentration of political power tends to lead to extractive economic institutions
  4. Inclusive economic institutions and growth—both necessary for and dependent on social empowerment—require inclusive political institutions

Effects of political representation of disadvantaged groups

  1. Observing a member of their own group in charge of a public office changes attitudes and infuses confidence in the minority group
  2. This may be referred to as the reporting channel
  3. The second effect is an increase in the responsiveness of the official towards the pleas of disadvantaged groups
  4. This is termed as the recording effect
  5. The knock-on economic effects are apparent as well
  6. There is a strong connection between the implementation of political reservations and small-scale entrepreneurship among women

Status of women representation

  1. The proportion of women in the Lok Sabha has seen only a paltry increase since independence—from 4.5% in the first Lok Sabha to the current 12% in the 16th Lok Sabha
  2. The 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution in 1993 made it mandatory to earmark 33% of all positions in Panchayati raj institutions for women

What limits women representation?

  1. Political parties in India tend not to follow provisions in their constitutions reserving seats for women in different committees
  2. The second barrier is the lack of education and leadership training
  3. Additionally, since women are not integrated in any local political process initially, and, unlike men, are not part of the relevant social and power networks, women leaders are prone to inefficiencies

Way forward

  1. Socio-economic disadvantages lead to reduced opportunities for women to participate in the political process, leading to a weakened representation
  2. There is a pressing need for education and leadership training to familiarize them with the local government functioning and instill in them a sense of agency
Jun, 18, 2018

[op-ed snap] Why so few women work in India


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), Skill India initiative

Mains level: Reasons behind less number of women in workforce and schemes required to increase their participation


Labour force disparity

  1. India has far fewer women working or available for work compared to any other large economy in the world
  2. Women’s participation in the labour force declined sharply in the country precisely when the country’s economic engine was growing the fastest: between 2004-05 and 2011-12

Reasons behind fewer women in the workforce

  1. A big reason why women don’t work is that there is usually no one else to do the tasks that a patriarchal society assigns to them
  2. In rural India, this often means attending to onerous tasks such as fetching water or collecting firewood
  3. In urban India, this may mean childcare in an environment where help is not as easy to come by as in rural India
  4. Data from the two latest quinquennial employment surveys of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) show that this was driven by a rise in the share of women who listed ‘attending to domestic duties’ as their principal activity in the year preceding the surveys
  5. The force of patriarchy also manifests itself in socio-religious constraints, which restrict the mobility of women
  6. Across major states, the share of women attending to domestic duties is broadly correlated with the share of women citing social and religious constraints as the main reason for attending to domestic duties

Women interested in part-time work

  1. A majority of women attending to domestic duties are willing to work part-time if such work were made available at their household
  2. Tailoring work seems to be the most preferred option for such women, followed by dairy-related and poultry-related work
  3. Most women who want to take up such work emphasized the need for finance and training

Way Forward

  1. The data suggest that the Skill India initiative may have missed a trick by focusing largely on male candidates looking for full-time work
  2. Given the rising demand for training among homemakers looking for part-time work, they could benefit greatly from a skilling initiative that helps them get into part-time work, or to start their own enterprises
Jun, 08, 2018

UN India business forum, NITI Aayog form consortium to help women entrepreneurs


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Consortium and its Mandate

Mains level: Initiative to harness potential of Women Entrepreneurs for contribution to our GDP


Promoting Women Entrepreneurs

  1. In full potential scenario when women participate in the economy, equally to men, it could add $2.9 trillion to India’s GDP by 2025.
  2. Indian women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges in accessing investors and raising capital.
  3. Taking this into account, the UN India Business Forum and the Women Entrepreneurial Platform of NITI Aayog formed a consortium to reduce gender disparities in start-up investments.

Purpose of the Consortium

  1. UN India-NITI Aayog Investor Consortium for Women Entrepreneurs will bring together key ecosystem stakeholders, including venture capitalists and impact investors, international donor and funding agencies, private sector partners and state governments.
  2. The consortium aims to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship by creating an enabling ecosystem for investments.
  3. Women entrepreneurs will be identified through key partners, including WEP, UN Women, and UNDP.
  4. The consortium secretariat will then connect entrepreneurs, according to their requests, with relevant members.
May, 01, 2018

Improved maternity benefits could prove counterproductive: Survey

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

From UPSC perspectives following things are important:

Prelims level: Maternity Benefits Act

Mains level: Issue of equality of opportunity arising out unclear provisions in the Maternity Benefit
(Amendment) Act 2017


Reducing participation of women in the workforce

  1. A report by TeamLease highlighted the increase in Maternity Leave benefit of 26 weeks raised from 12 weeks is proving counterproductive for women hiring in the organized sector
  2. At least 26 percent of the 350 startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) said that they will prefer hiring a male candidate, given the cost of the six-month maternity leave benefit
  3. About 40 percent of respondents said they will hire women but will consider whether such a cost is worth the candidate
  4. While many of the startups and SMEs are progressive, a significant number seems to be considering the consequences of this regulation
  5. Even when organizations do have a policy of non-discrimination in hiring, the recruiting manager may take a narrow view

The Way Forward

  1. Just changing the law is not enough; reinforcements are needed at multiple levels
  2. Getting more companies into the organized fold will help but there are risks of hampering their competitiveness which preferably employ women workers
  3. The government should make policy for bearing the financial burden of providing maternity benefits exclusively borne by the employer
  4. A gender-balanced approach to parenthood is needed rather than completely relying on Maternal Care


Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017

  1. Expecting mothers who are working in the organized sector can now avail 26 weeks of paid maternity
    leave instead of 12 weeks
  2. This Act allows 26 weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers who are adopting a child below the age of three months and also to commissioning mothers who opt for surrogacy
  3. This entitlement is applicable only up to first two children. For the third child, the entitlement will be for only 12 weeks. The leaves further reduce to six weeks if the woman wants to become a mother for the fourth
  4. The act is applicable to all those women employed in factories, mines and shops or commercial establishments employing 10 or more employees
  5. It makes it mandatory for employers with 50 or more employees to provide crèches in close vicinity of the workplace, and by allowing women up to four daily visits to the crèche
  6. The organizations must communicate these rights to female employees via writing
  7. An employer can permit a woman to work from home if the nature of work assigned permits her to do so
  8. This option can be availed of, after the period of maternity leave, for a duration that is mutually decided by the employer and the woman
Apr, 30, 2018

Fewer women researchers file for patents globally: Study


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women and women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: The concerns raised in the newscard(related to women researchers). And the challenges faced by the pharma industry.


A study was carried out to understand global contribution of men and women researchers who sought patents

  1. According to a recentl study, few women researchers have been found to enter the process of patent filing and even fewer are stated to be awarded with patents for their discoveries
  2. In comparison to male researchers, less women were found to be applying for patents, globally
  3. In addition, many of these women were even found to opt out of the process of patenting midway, just a handful were found to be ultimately being awarded with patents
  4. The findings of the study were shared on the World Intellectual Property Day that was observed in the city recently
  5. This year, the theme was “Powering Change: Women in innovation and creativity”

The challenges faced in the process of filing patents by people in the pharma industry were discussed at the session

  1. A bulk of generic drugs manufactured and exported from India were stated to be getting labeled as “counterfeit”
  2. as many of them have been getting commonly rejected failing to adhere to the data exclusivity clause of Intellectual Properties (IP)

Effective work is done by successive governments

  1. The advantages of the Indian government’s timely intervention for protecting IP of pharma industry, initiated about 25 years ago, has borne fruits now
Mar, 28, 2018

New ‘WomenInTech’ forum launched to promote STEM careers among girls

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: WomenInTech forum

Mains level: Measures being taken for women empowerment


Reducing gender gap in STEM careers

  1. The gender gap in individuals pursuing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers is a sharp and vexing one throughout the world, including in India
  2. Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), India has kicked start a collaborative industry initiative to address the sharp lack of women in STEM careers via a brand new forum called ‘WomenInTech’
  3. The forum aims to address the gap at the grassroots level through a multi-pronged approach

About the forum

  1. The forum has been conceived in association with a number of technology corporates, academia, and NGOs
  2. The forum has been designed to help accelerate the national agenda of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao and further to work in alignment with the UN’s focus area this year – ‘Turning promises into action’
  3. One of its initiatives is to build an independent corpus of funds, in collaboration with education NGOs
  4. This fund will sponsor the tertiary education of at least three young women from economically weak backgrounds in the field of engineering to top universities in the United States and the United Kingdom
  5. The starting point of WomenInTech would be to target 100,000 women through different approaches
  6. It also aims to empower and increase the employability of women in technology careers by promoting constant upskilling — especially after sabbaticals
Mar, 22, 2018

[op-ed snap] Self Help Groups: What should be next for women-led entrepreneurship in rural India?


Mains Paper 2: Governnance | Development processes & the development industry the role of NGOs, SHGs, various groups & associations, donors, charities, institutional & other stakeholders

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission, Kudumbashree, Jeevika schemes

Mains level: Role of SHGs in rural development


Women-led rural entrepreneurship

  1. The last few years have seen interest among policymakers in women-led rural entrepreneurship
  2. Much of it has sought to leverage the experience gathered from the estimated 46 million rural poor women mobilized through the Self Help Group (SHG) architecture
  3. These organizations, since their start in the 1990s, have been an effective vehicle, especially in providing financial intermediation solutions for unbanked rural women

SHG structure in India

  1. India has witnessed state-led promotion of SHGs through a three-tiered architecture of community institutions at group, village and cluster levels
  2. These have been via both Central schemes – the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Rural Livelihoods Mission,  and state government initiatives such Kudumbashree in Kerala and Jeevika in Bihar
  3. There are today dedicated autonomous organizations called State Rural Livelihoods Missions or SRLMs – which nurture SHG initiatives with the support of development sector professionals and last-mile community cadre
  4. There have also been attempts at thrusting new functions – including using them as a delivery channel for government projects

Changes required in the SHG movement

  1. At present, the SRLMs are the primary institution responsible for promoting entrepreneurship by SHGs
  2. But these were vehicles built for social mobilization
  3. This calls for a new institution having a deep functional relationship with the SLRMs, to leverage the latter’s strengths of mobilization and last-mile presence
  4. Such a state-level institution could even be a not-for-profit company registered under Section 8 of the Companies Act, 2012
  5. The internal management team of the proposed institution should be a combination of young business management professionals and experienced government line department staff on deputation
  6. Government financial support to the new promoting institution should be restricted to initial start-up costs, thus putting the onus on it to be lean in structure and generate own revenues to cover operating costs

Financial inclusion and economic development

  1. These are two different functions, even if the target group is the same poor rural women
  2. Social cohesion has been the binding factor for SHGs and vital to their success in financial intermediation
  3. Economic development is a function where collectivization can work only if the business itself favors sharing of resources
  4. States should adopt a pyramidal strategy for financial and technical assistance, based on the stage and size of enterprises

Way forward

  1. The expansion in the SHG movement’s scope, from social mobilization and financial inclusion objectives to economic development, is an organic step in the livelihoods chain
  2. The business of entrepreneurship promotion is not the same as livelihoods promotion and realising that is key to achieving the twin goals of rural growth and promotion of women’s entrepreneurship
Mar, 09, 2018

On Women’s Day, Centre launches biodegradable sanitary napkins at ₹2.50 per pad


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana, Suvidha, National Family Health Survey

Mains level: Awareness related to menstruation in women


Ensuring safe sanitation measures

  1. The government has launched biodegradable sanitary napkins, priced at ₹2.50 per pad
  2. They will be available at Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendras
  3. On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the Department of Pharmaceuticals under the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers introduced sanitary napkins under the name ‘Suvidha
  4. While other sanitary napkins available in markets are non-biodegradable, these are biodegradable

Quality sanitary pads not in use

  1. According to the National Family Health Survey 2015-16, about 58% of women aged between 15 to 24 years use locally prepared napkins, sanitary napkins, and tampons
Mar, 08, 2018

Nari Shakti Puraskars for 30 women, nine institutions


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Nari Shakti Puraskars, International Woman’s Day, Beti Zindabad Bakery, National Millet Sister Network, Vanastree

Mains level: Various initiatives for women empowerment


Nari Shakti puraskar

  1. 30 women and nine institutions will receive the Nari Shakti Puraskars from the President on the occasion of International Woman’s Day
  2. The awardees were finalised by a panel set up by the Ministry of Woman and Child Development

List of awardees

  1. These include the ‘Beti Zindabad Bakery’ initiative by the Chhattisgarh government to set up a bakery unit for survivors of human trafficking among the tribals in Pathalgaon, Jashpur
  2. Avani in Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, which is a community built on the principles of community-centric rural development programmes
  3. National Millet Sister Network launched by 100 women from nine states to provide knowledge to women in the area of millet farming
  4. Vanastree, the seed saving collective in the Malnad region of South India’s Western Ghats


Nari Shakti Puraskars

  1. Stree Shakti Puraskar (Women Power Award) was a series of India’s national honors conferred on individual women for their exceptional achievement
  2. The award was given in six categories, by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Government of India
  3. It recognizes the spirit of courage of a woman in difficult circumstances, who has established this spirit of courage in her personal or professional life
  4. Instituted in 1991, the award is conferred by the President on the occasion of International Women’s Day, 8 March every year
  5. The award is named after eminent women in Indian history, and is given in the following categories:
  • Devi Ahilya Bai Holkar Award: named after Ahilyabai Holkar, 18th-century ruler of Malwa kingdom
  • Kannagi Award: named after Kannagi, a legendary Tamil woman
  • Mata Jijabai Award: named after Mata Jijabai, mother of Shivaji, who founded the Maratha Empire in the 17th century
  • Rani Gaidinliu Zeliang Award: named after Rani Gaidinliu, a 20th-century Naga spiritual and political leader
  • Rani Lakshmi Bai Award: named after Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi
  • Rani Rudramma Devi Award (for both men and women): named after Rudrama Devi, a 13th-century ruler of Deccan Plateau

6.  From the year 2016, Ministry of Women and Child Development, has revised the guidelines for Women Awards for conferring on eminent women, organizations, and institutions

7. These awards will now be called “Nari Shakti Puruskars” (From the year 2016)

Jan, 31, 2018

[op-ed snap] The high dropout rate of girls in India


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

Mains level: High dropout rate among girls is one of the main issues, in the Indian education system.


Reason behind the high dropout rate of girls in India

  1. Traditional gender norms push girls into helping with household chores and sibling care, leading to irregular attendance that eventually results in dropouts
  2. Early marriage, lack of safety in schools and low aspirations related to girls’ education also lead to them dropping out

Annual Survey of Education Report (Aser) 2017 findings on secondary education of girls

  1. According to the report, on average the difference between enrolment levels of boys and girls at age 14 are declining, by 18 (32% girls are not enrolled—compared to 28% boys)
  2. Because the states are not able enforce compulsory education through the RTE Act
  3. Bridging mechanisms for out-of-school children exist at the elementary stage, but are absent for secondary education
  4. Hence girls find it difficult to re-enter education once they have dropped out

Welcome steps by the government

  1. The recent recommendation by the Central Advisory Board of Education sub-committee to extend Kasturba Gandhi Vidyalayas till class XII
  2. And the plans by MHRD to develop action plans for girls’ education are welcome
  3. The new definition of a dropout, 30 days of continuous unexcused absence, is a good start
  4. But more regular touch points are needed to create timely corrective measures to ensure timely regular attendance

Findings of the CARE-India’s research

  1. The research highlights the need to address the reliance on
    (1) untrained, under-qualified and poorly remunerated unprofessional teachers,
    (2) absence of necessary learning materials and infrastructure in special training centres,
    (3) inadequate budgeting and delayed release of funds

The need of direct dialogue with parents

  1. Mechanisms for dialogue with parents and community are critical to change social norms towards girls’ education
  2. The presence of strong female role models in the community, such as women teachers, are key to changing popular perceptions in terms of what girls can do

Distance is a big contributing factor to girls dropping out

  1. Initiatives like distribution of bicycles to girls make schooling safer and enhances retention of girls
  2. Schemes like these have been shown to increase girls’ age-appropriate enrolment in secondary schools by 30%

The way forward

  1. Stronger efforts are needed to enhance the agency of girls themselves to strengthen their self-esteem, challenge gender bias and provide leadership
  2. The curriculum itself needs to enable girls to challenge gender stereotypes and become more assertive
  3. School infrastructure needs to improve through availability of usable toilets
  4. While it is important to work with and empower girls, it is also critical to engage with boys to create a better, more gender equal tomorrow


Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya

  1. The Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya scheme was introduced by the Government of India in August 2004, then integrated in the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan program, to provide educational facilities for girls belonging to Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, minority communities and families below the poverty line in Educationally Backward Blocks
Jan, 06, 2018

Women to be inducted into Territorial Army

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Various Security forces & agencies & their mandate

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Territorial Army, Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948

Mains level: Entry of women in combat roles across various security forces


HC orders TA to allow women 

  1. The Delhi High Court cleared the path for induction of women in the Territorial Army
  2. HC  observed that any provision that bars them from joining the Force was against the Fundamental Rights provided under the Constitution

HC decision

  1. Women are eligible for recruitment and appointment to the Territorial Army under Section 6 of the Indian Territorial Army Act, 1948
  2. It said the government has not given any rationale to justify its action of enforcing a bar against recruitment of women in the force
  3. The court noted that more and more countries have moved away from positions of total prohibition to permitting recruitment of women even in combat roles in the armed forces
  4. It listed around 22 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, which permit recruitment of women even in combat roles


Territorial Army

  1. Territorial Army is an organisation of volunteers who receive military training in order to be mobilised for the country’s defence in case of an emergency
  2. It is also known as the second line of defence after the regular Army
  3. The role of the Territorial Army is to relieve the regular Army from static duties and assist the civil administration in dealing with natural calamities
  4. It also helps in maintenance of essential services in situations where life is affected or the security of the country is threatened


Jan, 05, 2018

Notice to govt. on law for working women


Mains Paper 1: Social issues | Role of women & women’s organization

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013, Vishaka case judgment

Mains level: Status of laws made for women empowerment and measures needed for their full implementation


Lack of implementation

  1. The Supreme Court has asked the government to respond to a petition questioning the lack of implementation of the various provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013
  2. Five years after the Act came into existence, an NGO has brought to light the sheer lack of initiative on the part of government authorities to monitor the implementation and enforce the law

Making of this law

  1. The 2013 statutory law had replaced the guidelines laid down by the Supreme Court in the historic Vishaka case judgment
  2. It had stemmed from the brutal gang rape of a social worker in a village of Rajasthan
  3. The Supreme Court verdict in 1997 was inspired by international conventions and the spirit of gender equality enshrined in the Constitution
  4. It declared that gender equality includes protection from sexual harassment and right to work with dignity, which is a universally recognised basic human right
  5. It took another sixteen years for Parliament to enact the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Redressal) Act, 2013 and its Rules

Weak enforcement

  1. The petition pointed out that the government at the State level has not even bothered to appoint district officers or local committees under the 2013 Act
  2. There are no appointments of nodal officers or internal complaints committees in certain offices
  3. There has been no move to ensure the reporting and collection of annual compliance reports from workplaces


Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace Act of 2013

  1. The Act defines sexual harassment at the workplace and creates a mechanism for redressal of complaints
  2. It also provides safeguards against false or malicious charges
  3. The Act also covers concepts of ‘quid pro quo harassment’ and ‘hostile work environment’ as forms of sexual harassment if it occurs in connection with an act or behaviour of sexual harassment
  4. The definition of “aggrieved woman”, who will get protection under the Act is extremely wide to cover all women, irrespective of her age or employment status, whether in the organised or unorganised sectors, public or private and covers clients, customers and domestic workers as well
  5. Every employer is required to constitute an Internal Complaints Committee at each office or branch with 10 or more employees. The District Officer is required to constitute a Local Complaints Committee at each district, and if required at the block level
  6. The Complaints Committees have the powers of civil courts for gathering evidence
  7. Government can order an officer to inspect workplace and records related to sexual harassment in any organisation
Dec, 28, 2017

[pib] Draft National Policy for Women 2017 envisions participation of women as equal partners in all spheres of life


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: National Policy for Women, 2017

Mains level: Measures for women empowerment


  • The draft National Policy for Women, 2017 is being prepared in consultation with various stakeholders to deal with significant changes with regard to the status and empowerment of women.

The Draft envisions a society in which:

  1. The draft Policy addresses the diverse needs of women through identified priority areas:
  2. Health including Food Security and Nutrition;
  3. Education;
  4.  Economy (including agriculture, industry, labour, employment, soft power, service sector, science and technology);
  5.  Governance and Decision Making;
  6. Violence Against Women;
  7. Enabling Environment (including housing, shelter and infrastructure, drinking water and sanitation, media and culture, sports and social security); and
  8.  Environment and Climate Change

Way Forward

  • Draft Policy envisages that existing legislations affecting/relating to women will be harmonized in accordance with Constitutional provisions and international commitments, in order to enhance their effectiveness
Dec, 15, 2017

Will Women’s Reservation Bill be passed in Lok Sabha this Winter Session?

Image source


Mains Paper 2: Polity | Parliament & State Legislatures – structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges & issues arising out of these.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: 108th Amendment, 73rd, and 74th Amendments, reservation provisions in constitution, provisions related to passage and lapse of bills in parliament

Mains level: All details related to women’s reservation bill


Congress president insists on early passage of bill

  1. Ahead of the Winter Session of Parliament, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi has insisted that his party would mount pressure on the government for early passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill in Parliament

About the bill

  1. The Women’s Reservation Bill was first introduced in Parliament in 1996
  2. The current version of the bill, the 108th Amendment, seeks to reserve 33 percent of all seats in governing bodies at the Centre, State, and Local level
  3. For reservation in the Lok Sabha, one-third of all constituencies will be reserved for women on a rotation basis
  4. This arrangement will be such that a constituency will be reserved for one general election and not reserved for the following two elections

Provisions that are already in place for women

  1. The 73rd and 74th Amendments passed in 1993, which introduced panchayats and municipalities in the Constitution, reserve one-third of seats for women in these bodies

Other reservation provisions

  1. The Constitution also provides for reservation of seats in Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in proportion to their number in the population
  2. The Constitution makes no provision for reserving seats for women in Parliament and the state legislatures

Highlights of the Women’s Reservation Bill

  1. The Constitution (108 Amendment) Bill, 2008 seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies
  2. The allocation of reserved seats shall be determined by such authority as prescribed by Parliament
  3. One-third of the total number of seats reserved for SC/ST shall be reserved for women of those groups in the Lok Sabha and the legislative assemblies
  4. Reserved seats may be allotted by rotation to different constituencies in the state or union territory
  5. Reservation of seats for women shall cease to exist 15 years after the commencement of this Amendment Act

Progress in Parliament

  1. The Rajya Sabha passed the bill on March 9, 2010
  2. The Lok Sabha never voted on the bill
  3. The bill lapsed after the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014
Nov, 28, 2017

[op-ed snap] Empowering women through job creation


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes; mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Particulars of the Report

Mains level: Women Empowerment is an important topic for Mains Exam.


“Global Gender Gap Report 2017”

  1. According to the World Economic Forum’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2017”, India’s ranking has fallen by 21 places from last year
  2. Not only are we currently far below the global average but also behind our neighbours China and Bangladesh
  3. Poor performance: One of the areas where we have fared poorly is in wages and participation of women in the economy where our rank is an abysmal 139
  4. As per the World Bank report, we have one of the lowest workforce female participation rates, ranking 120th among 131

Lower contribution of women in India’s GDP

  1. Even in terms of contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), women are currently under-represented. At 17%, India has a lower share of women’s contribution to GDP than the global average of 37%
  2. What is even more alarming is that the participation levels have been dropping in the last few years
  3. The National Sample Survey found that while in 1999-2000, 25.9% of all women worked; by 2011-12 this proportion had dropped to 21.9%

MGNREGA’s contribution to women empowerment

  1. The India Human Development Survey highlighted that the provision of work under the MGNREGA brought more rural women into wage labour
  2. Among MGNREGA workers in 2011-12, a whopping 45% were not in wage labour before the scheme was initiated, which means that women do seek opportunities to earn a stable wage

Indian women is at dual disadvantage

  1. Nearly 100% of net job creation in the last two decades has happened in the informal sector in small and low-productivity enterprises
  2. While pretty much every employee in the informal sector will have fewer skilling opportunities and lack of job security, the average Indian woman worker is at a dual disadvantage
  3. Not only is she less likely to find stable job opportunities within the informal sectors but she will also have to deal with poor quality and even unsafe working conditions, low wages and denial of statutory benefits like social security

What should be done?

  1. To take their rightful place within Indian workforce and society at large, our women need lot more formal sector employment opportunities with better wages
  2. And this cannot happen till formal sector employment grows in its own right
  3. Large-scale job creation in the formal sector will need sustained reforms in labour laws and skilling ecosystems

Possible future benefits of high female labour-force participation

  1. It is estimated that India can potentially boost its GDP by $700 billion in 2025
  2. by raising female labour-force participation rate by just 10 percentage points, from 31% to 41%
  3. However, this requires us to bring in 68 million more women into the workforce

The way forward

  1. Huge investments will be needed in upskilling and educating women
  2. But more than anything else it will require creating an abundance of new jobs within the formal sector and lowering barriers to job creation
  3. Increased availability of stable-wage jobs for women is critical to preventing their socio-economic exploitation
  4. Formalization of India’s job market is one the biggest gifts our policy makers can possibly give to the Indian woman
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