Weekly seminar on women empowerment policies 

Event organised by Department of Education, Panjab University

Weekly seminar on women empowerment policies 

Chandigarh: Weekly seminar on ‘Women Empowerment Policies’ was organised by the Department of Education, Panjab University, Chandigarh. Prof Pam Rajput, PU Fellow was invited to give a talk and have an interactive session with the students of the department (Research Scholars, M.Ed. (General) and M.A.). 
Prof Pam Rajput introduced the topic by initially discussing gender related terms such as difference between sex and gender, gender roles, gender equality, gender stereotypes etc. She urged the students to break various stereotypes such as last rites ceremonies being performed by both women and men.  
She explained to the students that the term ‘Empowerment’ meant being able to make critical choices for one-self. Steps had been taken to empower women in rural India by electing them to local bodies. But the political exercise turned out to be futile in most cases as, husbands of the women elected to local bodies were making all the important decisions relating to the local area. 
The students were familiarised with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, out of which ‘Gender Equality’ is the fifth developmental goal. Prof. Pam Rajput also spoke to the students about Global Gender Gap Index which is annually released by The World Economic Forum. According to the Global Gender Gap Index (2020) India’s position is as follows- 
In the year 2020, Global Gender Gap Index ranked India 112th among 153 nations. On a scale of 0 (inequality) to 1(equality) it scored .668. The country score card on four sub-indexes was as follows: 
Global Gender Gap Index Score Card – India, 2020



Economic Participation and Opportunity


Educational Attainment


Health and Survival


Political Empowerment


(Source: World Economic Forum, 2019)
Even though India is one of the largest economies in the world, in the view of Prof. Pam Rajput, it still has a long way to go when it comes to women’s empowerment. 
Some of the important Articles, of the Constitution of India related to Women’s Empowerment, which were discussed in the seminar included – 
1.    Article 14 of the Constitution of India provides for equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India. It states:
"The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India."
In the eyes of the Constitution of India all individuals are equal irrespective of gender.
2.    Article 15 of the Constitution of India states that no citizen of India shall be discriminated on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. Every person shall have equal access to public places like public parks, museums, wells, bathing ghats, etc. However, the State may make any special provision for women and children.
3.     Article 21 declares that no citizen can be denied his life and liberty except by law. Protection of life and personal liberty is also stated under the right to life and personal liberty. 
Prof.Pam Rajput discussed various policies relating to ‘Women’s Empowerment in India’ including - National Policy for the Empowerment of Women was adopted in the year 2001 and its various committees (2013 & 2015). 
Students were familiarised with six ways the government is pushing for women's empowerment in India: 
1.    Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana. ...
2.    Mahila-E-Haat. ...
3.    Mahila Shakti Kendra. ...
4.    Working Women Hostel. ...
5.    Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) ...
6.    Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana.
  A number of women’s related issues including malpractices in the area of women being elected to local bodies; the need for gender budgeting; and laws relating to gender based violence, including crimes committed by juveniles were discussed in the seminar. Students also discussed with the speaker , various issues relating to the Panjab University Campus such as eve teasing; safety of women on the campus; providing security within the campus; creation of safe spaces for women on campus; and A.C.Joshi Library being made easily accessible and safe for women and girls at night. The vote of thanks was proposed by the seminar coordinator Prof. Latika Sharma.