[Solved] Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer ( UPSC GS-2 Mains 2017)
National Commission for Women (NCW) is a statutory body constituted in 1992 under National Commission for Women Act, 1990 and seeks to preserve and promote the rights of women. Women face a lot of challenges and discrimination in every sphere of life, starting from nutrition, education, inheritance rights, salaries, etc.
Success in tackling problems of women:
• It supported the shah Bano case as a legal means to reform the harsh laws of Islam.
• Did Field surveys for collection of data on the status of Muslims women for a rational response.
• Recommended reforms in legislations and policies of the State.
• Made campaigns to enforce recommendations of Sachar Committee for reservations in educational institutions and jobs besides empowering women.
• It has acted suomoto and provided speedy justice in many cases, reviewed Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, PNDT Act 1994 and many other women centric laws.
• It organizes workshops, seminars for the awareness drive.
• Has been active with respect to victims of NRI marriages.
• Members are mostly linked to political party in power, so they can’t be expected to go against any policy or action of the government.
• Members have been, at times, accused of victim blaming and made regressive statements against gender and sexuality.
– Commission has been in controversy during Guwahati molestation case, and Mangalore pub attack case and by controversial statements made by members of the commission.
• Lack of adequate funds allocated to body depriving it of helping a complainant financiallyand supporting campaigns of any kind.
• Its composition is basically of Government nominated members. As such the independence of working is lacking in the NCW.
• Even though it has been provided with quasi-judicial functions the implementation of them seems abysmal.
• It could not change the patriarchal mindset established in the society. The way people think about women in India is a big cause for concern. People think women have to be submissive and obedient, that they cannot question the family, and cannot be independent.
• Powers are recommendatory and not mandatory.
• Lack of power to summon individuals before it unlike National Commission for Protection of Child Rights
• Chandigarh, which has one of the worst sex ratios, does not even have a women’s commission
• Members belonging more often to the political and bureaucratic class makes it amenable to political interference.
• More autonomy should be given to the commission and appointments for posts should be strictly merit based without any political agenda.
• Selection of politically neutral members who have contributed to or have a deep understanding of issues related to women’s’ rights.
How National Commission for Women been able to tackle problems faced by women?
- Since its inception, the Commission has occupied a considerable space in protecting the rights of weaker section of the population on gender lines.
- In the past, it has proposed the amendments to the acts such as IPC, 1860 to curb the sale of minor girls, Hindu Marriage Act 1955 to omit epilepsy as grounds for divorce, Dowry Prohibition Act in order to bring the problems of Dowry deaths in to the lime light and deal with them appropriately etc.
- It had also proposed the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Bill which was passed in 2005.
- In recent times, the Commission has adopted the multi-pronged strategy of assisting women in redressal of their grievances, facilitating speedy delivery of justice to women by organising Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats in different parts of the country as well as launching the awareness campaign regarding women’s rights.
- NCW was instrumental in the campaign against Triple Talak and conducted detailed studies about the practice in various nations. It sought to protect women from arbitrary divorces.
- NCW has undertaken various steps for the rehabilitation of acid attack victims .It has also recommended legislative and policy initiatives for preventing acid attacks.
- NCW has regularly held seminars, research as well as awareness drive. It has also partnered with NGOs and provided them with grants to widen its reach.
- NCW has undertaken inspection of jails and promoted the idea of violence free home. The government should take steps to make the body more independent.
- Further, its Research Cell looks into the emerging problems of Indian women due to discrimination and gender bias.
Failure of National Commission for Women to tackle women issues:
- There are examples which shows that the Commission has not been able to come up to the expectations of women in India. For example, on the other serious issue of use of sexual violence against women by police and army personnel in the highly militarised areas of Jammu and Kashmir, north-east and now Chhattisgarh, there has been a silence on this on the part of the commission.
- NCW has been often criticised for its inability to effectively strategise and tackle the problems faced by women at both public and private spheres.
- NCW found itself in the midst of controversy for its report on the Mangalore pub attacks. Later, on NCW member involved in the controversy was removed on disciplinary grounds.
- NCW’s recommendations regarding section 497 of Indian Penal Code that women were “the victim and not an offenders” in adulterous cases also came under fire.
- Members have at times exhorted bias and prejudice due to influence of the prevalent patriarchy in our society.
- Moreover, NCW has been criticised as toothless and spineless. The body is only recommendatory and has no power to enforce its decisions. The body has often been reactive and arbitrarily taken up select issues and responded to them.
- Also, the commission has been limited in its fight for empowering Indian women due to shortcomings in its composition and structure: NCW lacks concrete legislative power. It enjoys power only to recommend amendments and submit reports.
- NCW has no power to take legal actions against the Internal Complaint Committees which have lackadaisical attitude towards grievance redressal of women facing harassments at workplace.
- NCW’s functions are dependent on the grants offered by the central government. Financial assistance provided to the Commission is very less to cater to its needs.
- It does not have the power to choose its own members. The power selecting members is vested with the Union Government and the nature of country’s volatile political scenario tends the commission to be politicised.
- It lack constitutional status, and thus has no legal powers to summon police officers or witnesses.
- Issues & Challenges of the commission
- The Major Issues around working of the National Commission for Women are
- The functions of the commission are dependent on the grants offered by the central government. Less allocation of funds creates difficulties.
- The members of the commission are appointed by the government and there is no provision for selecting its own members.
- A strong legislative power is missing in favor of the commission.
- The recommendations of the NCW are not binding on the governments.
- National commission for women was constituted in 1992 as a statutory body. It will look into the issues and violation of rights of women and raise voice on behalf of them.
- The subjects of their campaign have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation of women in jobs and the exploitation women for labour also discuss police abuses against women. Inspite of commission women safety and rights are a bit of concern in our county.
- Women are facing lot of problems in both public and private spheres , if at all we want to resolve them we need to build a comprehensive strategy.
- But who will prepare that ? National commission for women is no longer have such capacity. As it is not holding constitutional position govts are not so serious about funding of that institution and no proper resource allocation , no proper research on issues faced by women are on going.
- Most of the people felt that it is an arm chaired like institution, they don’t know the gross root realities, they never bothered to take visits around the country. Even if it recommend govts are not so serious in implementing them.
- Most of the time this institution works as normal govt department but not as an independent commission.
- They don’t have enough database regarding the exploitation and persecution, molestation, harassment of women.
- They are unaware about the problem of domestic workers who are mostly women, they never talk about women bodily rights.
So in order to prepare a strategy let us come with a body or improve the capacity building of the NCW in such a way that they should enough sensitive to the problem of women. Reforms in political, economical, social aspects need to be brought as early as possible
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