Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath on Thursday expressed concern about the entrenched patriarchal and societal constructs, which she stated places a woman's status several notches below that of men.
Inaugurating the first consultative meeting of the high level committee on the status of women, here, Tirath urged the society to collectively work in tandem with government efforts to ensure the safety of women in public places.
She stated that in the aftermath of the horrific incident of gang rape in December 2012, there have been concerted efforts on part of the Government to provide safe public places for women.
"The Union Budget 2013-14 announced a number of initiatives for this purpose, including the Nirbaya Fund of Rs.1000 crore and an additional sum of R.200 crore for schemes for vulnerable single/ widowed women," she said.
Tirath further said that women have made great strides economically, socially and politically in the last few decades and have benefited from the general economic development and the gender specific and gender related policies, programs and legislations of the Government.
She stated that a positive progress has been noted in respect of a number of gender socio-economic indicators due to persistent efforts of all stakeholders.
There have been improvement in literacy rates for women from 53.67 percent in 2001 to 65.45 percent in 2011. Also the Maternal Mortality Rate had reduced from 301 per lakh live births in 2001-03 to 212 in 2007-09. Female infant mortality rate has come down from 68 in 2001 to 48 in 2011, she noted.
But at the same time she stressed on the various factors that can improve and build on these indicators and expressed concern over the most persisting and disturbing aspects that are impacting women.
She stated that declining child sex ratio which has come down from 927 girls per 1000 boys in Census 2001 to 914 in Census 2011 is a cause of concern as it is no longer confined to specific geographic areas, but is increasingly being reported in almost all parts of the country including the southern States.
Tirath further elaborated on the initiatives and steps taken by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to combat these, such as the Sectoral Innovation Council, and the convergence projects of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women of in 12 gender critical districts. She also stated that protection of women from exploitation and violence is crucial, for which the ministry have in place a slew of schemes and enabling legislations.
Tirath suggested that the high level committee, through their consultations should suggest innovative and effective mechanisms with inter-stakeholder cooperation that can be instituted right from the village level to ensure strict implementation of laws and justice delivery.
The high level committee on status of women was constituted based on the recommendations of the committee of governors which felt that a comprehensive Report on the status of women is imperative, as the last such Report ' Towards Equality' was brought out in 1974. (ANI)