By 2015, India is expected to achieve the MDG target on gender parity in education; however, the targets on women’s economic empowerment and representation in National Parliament will not be met. In shaping the post 2015 development agenda, the attention of the world is focused on India and the role of the Government in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment focused on women’s security, voice and empowerment.
Eliminating Violence Against Women
A Ballot for Change: She was a ‘star’ campaigner during the panchayat elections in Odisha in February 2012, urging women to stand for elections. As a result of SWEEP campaigns organized by UN Women and the Hunger Project, more women were elected from seats that were open to both men and women in Gajapati and Dhenkanal districts. “Earlier I was a normal woman, now I am a special woman,” says Lakhi Devi from Muzaffarpur, Bihar who benefitted from a similar campaign.
Official statistics of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) show that a total of 244,270 crimes against women were reported in India in 2012 as compared to 228,650 cases in 2011; recording an increase of 6.4 per cent during the year 2012. In 2011, a significantly high number of victims of rape were girls. According to the NCRB, of the total 24,270 reported cases, a staggering 7,112 or 30 per cent were girls up to 18 years of age. It is expected that these statistics could be even higher due to under-reporting owing to socio-cultural factors. The rate of crime committed against women was 41.7 per cent in 2012.
A signatory to the Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) India has a number of progressive laws that support gender equality and ending discrimination and violence against women. In its 2010-11 Vision Statement; the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) focused on a violence free environment for women to lead lives of dignity. In 2012, the President of India launched the National Mission for the Empowerment of Women (NMEW) which has a five year mandate to achieve inter-sectoral convergence of all pro-women and women-centric programmes across Ministries. More recently, the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 2013 expands the scope of sexual and gender based crimes against women. Under the Sexual Harassment of Women at the Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act 2013, the Government of India has pledged to establish 100 One Stop Crisis Centres and the creation of a 1000 Crore Nirbhaya Fund to respond to Violence against Women and Girls.
The Government of India was represented at the 2013 session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), where Member States committed to ending all forms of violence against women. They recognized that there is a need to address the economic and political underpinnings of violence; ensure access to justice; strengthen multi-sectoral approaches; and end harmful traditional practices that negatively impact women.
The 2011 Census in India revealed that there are 919 girls for every 1000 boys in the 0-6 age group in India, highlighting the imbalance in child-sex ratios. Ideally, this ratio should be above 950. This imbalance is a result of the practice of gender biased sex selection - a manifestation of deep seated patriarchal mindsets leading to the preference for sons over daughters; aided by technological misuse. Some of the consequences of an imbalanced child sex ratio are an increase in violence against women and girls, trafficking for marriage and restrictions on mobility and choices of young girls. Another manifestation of patriarchy and discrimination is the high prevalence of child marriage, with almost one in two girls married before the age of 18 i.e. 43 per cent of women aged 20-24. Child marriage has a tremendous impact on the health, education and well-being of a girl.
A New Life: Using puppets they made themselves, 16 widows from Ajmer told the story of the abuse they faced by their in-laws. “After my husband passed away in an accident, my in-laws started treating me very badly. When I decided to start work at the local school, they called me a prostitute,” says Sita. These women now have new-found confidence, thanks to a UN Women project that works with 1500 widows in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka to help them overcome stigma and access public services.
Launched in 2008, the UN Secretary General’s UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign aims to raise public awareness and increase political will and resources for preventing and ending all forms of violence against women and girls in all parts of the world. In support of the Secretary General’s campaign, the United Nations in India supports the Government of India’s efforts to end violence and discrimination against women, including by increasing political and social commitment to end discrimination.
Inaugural United Nations Public Lecture by Ms. Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor General of India
Marking International Day for Eliminating Violence Against Women on 25 November 2013, Ms. Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor-General of the Supreme Court of India, urged authorities to help survivors of sexual assault to navigate the criminal justice system.
On 16 November, the Indian Women's Press Corps in partnership with UNICEF and UN Women organised a panel discussion with the media to build on the growing public consensus that violence against children and women can no longer be tolerated and that collective action of all stakeholders is required to help end it.
A new UNFPA study ‘Laws and Son Preference in India’ released by Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, examines laws and policies that inadvertently propagate a preference for sons in Indian society’
A Life Free of Violence and Discrimination is the Right of Every Woman
The brochure prepared by the Gender Equality and Empowerment Task Team led by UN Women highlights key forms of gender based violence in India including domestic violence, violence in public spaces, trafficking and violence against children. It also refers to gender biased sex selection as a manifestation of gender discrimination.
Gender Equality a Pressing Development Challenge, Says UN Head in India
In an interview to UN Radio, Lise Grande, UN Resident Coordinator says that ensuring gender equality is one of the "most pressing" development challenges facing India today. India currently ranks 136 out of 186 countries in the UN's Gender Inequality Index.
Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon (I, a woman, can achieve anything)
Tune into the launch episode on 24 May on All India Radio to follow a 52 episode radio serial by the Population Foundation of India, supported by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
The sharply declining child sex ratio in India has reached emergency proportions and urgent action must be taken to alleviate this crisis. The study ‘Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions,’ undertaken by Dr. Mary John on behalf of UN Women and with support from UNFPA, helps to understand gender-biased sex selection more holistically, and aids in the identification of the important way forward for organisations and people working on the problem. Read more
Laws and Son Preference in India – A Reality Check
The 163 page UNFPA report undertaken by Advocate Kirti Singh, Former Member, Law Commission of India is a no-holds barred, reality check of Indian laws and policies that inadvertently propagate son preference in Indian society. Through the review of laws and the gaps, the study reveals that unless the vicious cycle of discrimination is addressed and the legal, social and economic status of a daughter improves, son preference is likely to continue.
Masculinity, Son Preference and Intimate Partner Violence
A study conducted by the International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW) in partnership with UNFPA looks at men’s attitudes and practices around gender inequality, son preference and gender based violence. Based on findings across seven states in India, the study reinforces that men can and do have an influence on gender equality and need to be treated as part of the solution, not the problem.
Why do some men use violence against women and how can we prevent it
[Source: Partners for prevention]
The report, entitled ‘Why Do Some Men Use Violence Against Women and How Can We Prevent It? Quantitative Findings from the UN Multi-country Study on Men and Violence in Asia and the Pacific’ was conducted in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea. It explores the prevalence of men’s use of violence against women in the survey sites, and shows what factors make men more or less likely to use violence.
Child Marriage in India - An analysis of available data (2012)
The data in the document highlights that a lot needs to be done to provide a response to child marriage. UNICEF is committed to support comprehensive efforts to change social norms and beliefs that promote child marriage, to ensure protection mechanisms are in place, to encourage the enforcement of the law and to create spaces for girls’ voices.
Highlights of the UN Public Lecture
Key highlights from the UN Public Lecture with Indira Jaising, Additional Solicitor General, Supreme Court of India on ending violence against women
The UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon calls to make for 16 days of activism to combat violence against women marking the International Day to End Violence against Women on 25 November to Human Rights Day on 10 December 2013
Violence Affects Us All
Nandita Das, Actor says that violence against women affects all people and that if we stand up together, we will be a less fearful and more compassionate society.
Urbanization and Gender Violence
Kalpana Vishwanath, Jagori on the need to address violence against women in public spaces and cities within a larger discourse of urbanization in India.
Caste Hierarchies and Violence Against Women
Asha Kowtal on how caste hierarchy and patriarchy intersect to perpetuate violence against women.
Violence Against Minorities
Asha Kowtal, All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch, on how violence experienced by Dalit women is very different from violence against other women.
A new UNFPA study ‘Laws and Son Preference in India’ released by Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission, examines laws and policies that inadvertently propagate a preference for sons in Indian society’.
Planning and Gender-based violence
Dr. Syeda Hameed, Member, Planning Commission on key monitorable targets in the 12th Five Year Plan that aim to improve India’s child sex ratio.
Kirti Singh, Advocate and Former Member, Law Commission of India outlines key findings from a new UNFPA study on ‘Law and Son Preference in India: A Reality Check’.
Addressing caste based gender violence
Dr. Ruth Manorama, President of the National Alliance of Women, National Convenor, National Federation of Dalit Women on violence against Dalit women.
Understanding India’s declining sex ratio
Dr. Mary John, Senior Researcher, Centre for Women’s Development Studies on India’s declining sex ratio.
Empowered lives: Duli & Amir redefine widowhood in India
UN Women is working to empower 500 widows in two towns in India – Udaipur and Vrindavan. Vrindavan, located in Uttar Pradesh in Northern India is the town where thousands of widows go to live, abandoned by their families.
From pain to puppetry
Through training provided by a UN Women programme, 16 widows have learnt puppetry and given eight public performances. By making their own puppets and scripting their plays, they have been able to tell their stories and deal with their pain.
Better Lighting, Wider Pavements: The Need of the Hour
A Safe Cities programme in New Delhi is conducting safety audits, whose findings are being adapted to make the crucial link between the public’s needs, urban planning and safety.
Cartoons for change
Three leading cartoonists from three leading Indian newspapers took to their drawing boards to portray the current status of women in India, and advocate for change.
India: From Darjeeling to Delhi - story of a young girl who was trafficked
Darjeeling, West Bengal in the north-eastern part of India is vulnerable to human trafficking. Lack of awareness, paucity of work opportunities and frequent natural disasters push women and children into the hands of traffickers.
The Secretary-General Message on the International Day to End Violence Against Women
The UN Secretary General Ban ki Moon calls to make for 16 days of activism to combat violence against women marking the International Day to End Violence against Women on 25 November to Human Rights Day on 10 December 2013.
In her first message as UN Women Executive Director for International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (25 November), Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka calls on the international community to be ‘part of creating solutions” to the pandemic of violence against women and girls, which today impacts one in three women worldwide. This year’s official theme is “Orange the World in 16 Days”.
Violence Against Women is not Acceptable and can be Prevented: UNDP Calls for Renewed Efforts to End Gender-Based Violence
On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, UNDP Administrator Helen Clark calls for law enforcement and judicial systems to work together with governments, civil society and international partners to tackle the root causes of violence against women, support victims, and bring perpetrators to justice.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supports the One Billion Rising Campaign
On Valentine’s Day on 14 February 2013, the UN Secretary General emphasized the need to speak out against the global pandemic of violence against women and girls that thrives in a culture of discrimination and impunity.
The Red Siren Campaign
UNICEF India has launched the new initiative Time to Sound the Red Siren, which tackles violence against children and places a special focus on sexual violence against girls.
Say No to Violence
The Sub-regional Office of UN WOMEN South Asia places the advancement of women's human rights at the centre of its efforts and focuses its activities on four strategic areas: reducing feminized poverty, ending violence against women, reversing the spread of HIV/AIDS among women and girls and achieving gender equality in democratic governance. Have Your Say in 2013: Every week UN Women’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women YouTube Channel features a different video that speaks on the issue.
Oxfam's Give Women their Share Campaign
In both rural and urban settings, land and house remains the primary properties that shape the equations of power between men and women irrespective of their caste, class and creed. Research shows that when women own land and house, it leads to transformative change for herself, her family and the society in terms of production, gender equity, women's agency, and liberty. Advocating to Give Women Their Share, Oxfam India is demanding a shift in community attitudes towards women’s land rights to enhance their dignity, security, freedom, reduction in violence along with their economic empowerment.
vOiCES FROM THE GRASSROOTS
The United Nations in India in partnership with World Comics India uses the power of comics to tell stories from across India, across communities, and across languages. Through workshops held in the country, young people, women, men and children who are poor and from marginalized communities find expression through comics. As the second in a series of exhibitions that begins in November, the partnership focuses on Voices Against Violence, in support of the UN Secretary General’s global campaign – UNiTe to End Violence against Women. The Campaign aims to protect the basic human rights of women and girls to live lives free from violence. This collection of stories are a reflection of people’s lives, the reality they have to contend with on a daily basis and the challenges they have to overcome related to gender-based discrimination and violence including eve-teasing, witch-hunting, sexual abuse and domestic violence.
Women’s rights are the true indicators of progress
[Date: 12 June 2014, Source: The Economic Times (op-ed)]
'Women Not Safe in Politics Too'
[Date: 08 May 2014, Source: The New Indian Express]
India saw 50,000 maternal deaths in 2013
[Date: 07 May 2014, Source: Live Mint]
UN study shows decrease in maternal deaths
[Date: 08 May 2014, Source: The Hindu]
INDIA RANKS 127TH FOR MOTHERS’ SAFETY: STUDY
[Date: 07 May 2014, Source: The Pioneer]
Convened by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), 11 UN agencies including ILO, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNESCAP, UNESCO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNODC and WHO are working together to help strengthen political commitment to end violence against women and girls.