CHARGE 1: NDA GOVERNMENT FAILS TO MEET PROMISE OF 33% RESEVATION
- Prime Minister Modi came to power with the promise of 33 percent reservation for women in Parliament and assemblies and 50 percent in panchayats. However, the Government has deliberately side-lined the Reservation Bill every year for the last 5 years.
- Women’s participation in Panchayats in BJP-ruled states is being resisted by introduction of unconstitutional conditions such as minimum educational qualifications, operational toilets and two-child norm. No budgetary allocation for salaries or allowances for women elected in Panchayats.
CHARGE 2: MISALLOCATION OF FUNDS INTENDED FOR WOMEN EMPOWERMENT AND WELFARE
- Allocations under Nirbhaya fund went largely unspent as the government made no concrete plan to utilise this fund. In fact resources under the Nirbhaya Fund meant for substantive interventions for safety and security of women were diverted to meet expenses under other ongoing schemes such as Swadhar Gruh and SABLA
- Beti Bachao – Beti Padhao, the much touted scheme has remained just a slogan. Shockingly, over 56 percent of the funds allocated under the scheme from 2014-15 to 2018-19 were spent on “media-related activities” or publicity. In contrast to this, less than 25 percent of the funds were disbursed to districts and states while over 19 percent of the funds weren’t even released by the government
- Flagship schemes like ‘Ujjwala’ have turned out to be a hoax. With the current unaffordably high LPG prices, BPL women, having received the connection, are unable to maintain the much-hyped gas connection and prefer to go back to their original cheaper sources of fuel.
- Swachh Bharat Abhiyan is another scheme on which crores of rupees were spent on publicity drives but turned out to be an empty promise. Even where toilets were built, in most cases there was no provision for water supply. Also, women who are supposed to be the primary beneficiaries have been subjected to public shaming, exclusion from basic rights like rations and ‘toilet vigilantism’ in the name of this scheme.
- Maternity Entitlement: The National Food Security Act, 2013 mandates “every pregnant woman and lactating mother shall be entitled to maternity benefit of not less than Rs. 6000.” The law mentioned no disqualifying criteria that could leave out vulnerable categories of women. However, the Central government announced the PMMVY scheme restricts maternity benefit to only the first child birth and reduces the benefit to Rs. 5000. In 2017-18 the budget allocated Rs. 2,700 crores or 30 per cent of the actual requirement. The 2018-19 Budget reduced this already insufficient allocation to Rs.2,400 crores.
CHARGE 3: INCREASED GENDER DISCRIMINATION AND WAGE DISPARITY IN WORK SPACES
- There are around 84 million women workers in agriculture according to NSSO data. They are best described as dispossessed farmers and disadvantaged workers. Most are not recognised as workers and are not compensated for their work. Equal wages for equal work does not exist in agriculture in most states. Those women who work in family farms still do not have land rights and decision-making powers. They are treated like unpaid helpers in the farm work. The widows of the farmers who have committed suicides are without land titles and have to struggle hard for their and their children’s survival.
- The women who work in various government schemes have still not been given the status of workers with regular wages, pensions and social security benefits but are treated as ‘volunteers’ thereby making exploitation of ICDS, ASHA, Mid-Day Meal, Anganwadi and other scheme workers legal.
- NREGA is a demand driven Act but is being treated as a central scheme. It is severely underbudgeted. This government has been systematically working to dismantle the MGNREGA, one of the most powerful Acts that guarantees at least 100 days of work to a family leading to some degree of empowerment and life of dignity. Although women have been seen to benefit the most with more than 50 percent in NREGA, they are also the most disadvantaged now with wages, in some cases for several months, not being paid. Women-friendly work spaces and crèches as has been specified in the Act have not yet been implemented.
- The Maternity Benefits Act (MBA) amended in 2017 to expand maternity leave from 17 weeks to 26 weeks covers only about 5 percent women working in the organised sector and does not include in its ambit more than 95 percent of women in the country who are in the informal sector.
- Despite manual scavenging being declared illegal in 1993 through The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, the government has turned a blind eye towards the continued practice of manual scavenging. About 95% manual scavengers are women. Their jobs include continuous exposure to critical health hazards.
- Demonetisation, forced on the people overnight without any consultations, not only destroyed many small and medium businesses and informal employment of which women constitute more than 85 percent, but allowed owners of black money a surreptitious opportunity to launder it back into the open economy. Demonetisation and GST under the Modi regime have directly resulted in the loss of 1.5 crore jobs with women losing 88 lakh jobs. Thousands of women lost their jobs and livelihood and savings collected over the years in their homes. India ranks 142nd out of 149 countries in economic participation of women and continues to rank 3rd lowest in the world in health and survival of women (WEF’s Global Gender Gap Report 2018).
CHARGE 4: INCREASED VIOLENCE TOWARDS WOMEN UNDER THE NDA GOVERNMENT:
- There is a strong agreement among the RSS/BJP backed Hindutva forces on women’s role in society. Various outfits of RSS: Garbh Vigyan Sanskar, Arogya Bharati and Vidya Bharati have been conducting live trials in various parts of the country to produce ‘fair’ and ‘tall’, ‘customised’ children. Through false propaganda, Hindu women are being urged to produce more children in order to ‘meet the threat of the growing Muslim population’. Anti-Muslim paranoia has been created through ‘Love Jihad’ and outfits like the Romeo Squad undermining women’s right to choose. There was a 79 percent rise in the horrific honour killings during 2014-15 and has been steadily rising over the last four years. The unconcern for oppressive customs victimising Hindu women highlights the hypocrisy of shedding crocodile tears for divorced Muslim women by criminalising triple talaq after it has already been made illegal by Supreme Court order.
- Crimes against women have increased by 83 percent in the last 10 years (NCRB) and by 34 percent in the first four years of the Modi Government. There has been a spurt in the number and brutality of rapes, abduction, physical and mental abuse, torture of various kinds, threats of killing. BJP-RSS criminals were directly involved in the horrific gang rape and murder cases in Kathua, Jammu & Kashmir and Unnao in Uttar Pradesh, the gang rapes at Khunti in Jharkhand and the sex scandals in shelter homes in Muzaffarpur in Bihar and Deoria in Uttar Pradesh. The serial crimes against women in BJP-ruled Tripura are condemnable. Rather than punishing the perpetrators, they have been openly supported by the BJP government.
- The promise of correcting sex ratio imbalance by implementation of PCPNDT Act and awareness generation is belied by the report from NITI Aayog showing a dip in sex ratio at birth in 17 out of 21 states. According to the report, among the 17 states which recorded substantial drop of 10 points or more, in Gujarat the SRB fell to 854 females from 907 females per 1,000 males born registering a drop of 53 points from 2012-14 (base year) to 2013-15(reference year) in this indication.