Initiatives for Women

Table of Contents

Initiatives for Women

This article deals with ‘Initiatives for Women.’ This is part of our series on ‘Science and Technology’ which is important pillar of GS-1 syllabus . For more articles , you can click here .

Initiatives for Women
Initiatives for Women

Constitutional measures

  • Right to Equality under Article 14 .
  • Article 16 : Equality of opportunities in matter of public appointments for all citizens.
  • Article 23 : Bans trafficking in human and forced labour .
  • Equal pay for equal work under Article 39(d) (DPSP) 
  • Article 42 : Maternity Leave .
  • Article 44 : state shall endeavour to secure a Uniform Civil Code for its citizens, throughout the territory of India.
  • Article 51(A)(e) : Renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Fundamental Duty) .
  • Article 300 (A : Right of property to women .
  • 73rd & 74th Amendment Act 1992 : Reservation of 1/3rd of seats in local bodies of panchayats and municipalities for women. 


  • Vishakha Judgement : Supreme Court gave detailed guidelines regarding women at workplace known as Vishakha guidelines.
  • Shyara Bano case : Triple Talaq was declared unconstitutional  by the Supreme Court .
  • Laxmi vs Union of India : Supreme Court recommended following to contain incidents of Acid Attacks :-
    • Don’t sell acid to person under 18.
    • Sell acid only if they show identity proof and purpose of purchase .
    • Record the sale details and submit them to police.
    • Sell only non-harmful form of acid.

Statutory Provisions

1 . Special Marriage Act , 1954

  • It has been amended to fix the minimum age of marriage at 21 years for males & 18 years for females .

2. Hindu Succession Act 1956

  • Equal share to daughter in father’s property , while a widow has the right to inherit husband’s property.
  • An amendment in this Act in 2005 enabled daughters to have equal share in ancestral properties.

3. Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956

  • It prohibits traffic in women and girls for the purposes of prostitution.

4. Dowry Prohibition Act,1961

  • Act makes dowry demands in wedding arrangements is illegal.

5. Indecent   Representation   of   Women (Prohibition)  Act,   1987

  • Act prohibits indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings etc.

6. Sati (Prevention) Act , 1987

  • The practice of Sati which was first abolished in 1829, was revised and made illegal in 1987.
  • It provided for a more effective prevention of the commission of sati and its glorification and for matters connected therewith.

7. National Commission for Women (NCW) Act, 1990

  • The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 .

8. Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005

  • It seeks to determine domestic violence in all forms against women & make it a punishable offence.

9. Sexual Harassment At Workplace Act

  • Based on Vishakha guidelines .
  • It has provision of formation of ‘Internal Complaints Committee’ (ICC) to deal with cases of Sexual Harassment at workplace .

10. Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017

  • It increased women’s maternity leave entitlements from 12 to 26 weeks .

11. Equal Remuneration Act, 1976 

12. Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 2003.

13. Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 2013

  • In the backdrop of Nirbhaya gang rape, this Act was passed amending the CrPC. The new law has provisions for increased sentence for rape convicts, including life-term and death sentence, besides providing for stringent punishment for offences such as acid attacks, stalking and voyeurism.

14. Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971

  • The act provides certain grounds on which abortion is allowed including foetal abnormalities, physical and mental injury to the mother and failure of contraceptive methods.
  • But there are some issues with present act. These include
    1. Denial of Reproductive rights to Unmarried women: It does not contain provisions for unmarried women seeking abortion in case of contraceptive failure.
    2. Upper limit of 20 weeks: Under the act, termination of pregnancy beyond 20 weeks needs approval of the court. This is problematic since a number of foetal abnormalities are detected after 20 weeks .
  • Medical Termination of Pregnancy (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has been introduced to address above issues. Amendments include
    1. Enhancing the upper gestation limit from 20 to 24 weeks for termination of pregnancy.
    2. Relaxing the contraceptive-failure condition for “any woman or her partner” (including unmarried women)


1 . Convention on Elimination  of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)

  • India ratified CEDAW in 1993.

2. Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BPfA) (1995)

  • It was adopted on Fourth World Conference on Women which was held in Beijing.
  • It sets  objectives and actions for advancement of women and achievement of gender equality in 12 critical areas of concern like (1) Women and the environment, (2) Women in power and decision-making, (3)  girl child, (4) Women and the economy, (5) Women and poverty, (6) Violence against women, (7) Human rights of women, (8)Education and training of women, (9) Institutional mechanisms for the advancement of women, (10) Women and health, (11) Women and the media and (12)Women and armed conflict .
  • After signing the Beijing Declaration, India setup Nodal Ministry of Women and Child Development (MoWCD), National Commission for Women, passed progressive legislations etc.

Government’s Schemes  to empower Women

1 . Health related Schemes

1.1 PM Suraksheet Matritva Yojana (PM SMY) 

  • Ante – Natal (before birth) checkup for pregnant women on 9th of every month by specialist  .
  • Started in 2016 .

1.2 Janani Suraksha Yojana 

  • To promote Institutional delivery of the pregnant women .
  • Started in 2005 .

1.3 PM Matru Vandana Yojana 

  • ₹ 6,000 to be given to all mothers .
  • To be given in Instalments (6th Month pregnancy || 3 months after birth || 6 months after birth)
  • Applicable for  first  two  children .

1.4 Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY)

  • Safeguard the health of women & children by providing them with a clean cooking fuel ( LPG ) .

1.5 To Combat Diseases among Pregnant Women & infants

  • Anaemia : Anaemia is the major problem in Pregnant women.  Iron Folic Acid supplements are given to women to deal with this issue.
  • Diarrhoea : Large number of infants die because of this . ORS and Zinc Tablets are given to women to deal with this issue. 

Side Topic : Menstrual Hygiene  Schemes

  • Only 12% of menstruating women in India use sanitary napkins
  • 23% of rural girls  drop out of school when they start menstruating. Dropping out  encourages early child marriage and makes them lose the opportunity to be in  workforce.
  • To deal with this, government has started following menstrual hygiene schemes :-
Rashtriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhiyan Started by Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD).
Under one component of the Scheme , sanitary pads are provided to girls in schools .
Suvidha Started by Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilizers.
It aims to provide 100% biodegradable sanitary napkin .
Project Stree Swabhiman Started by Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY).

2. Financial Security

2.1 Stand up India

  • Loan of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 1 crore is provided woman without collateral  for setting up a new enterprise .

2.2 Swa-Shakti

  • This project aims at establishment of more than 16000 SHGs(Self Help Groups) having 15 – 20 women members each & thereby enhance women’s access to and control over resources for betterment of their lives.

2.3 Rashtriya Mahila Kosh

  • It provide funds to  poor women  .

2.4 Mahila E-Haat

  • Web based initiative which provides access to woman entrepreneurs  to global markets .

2.5 Sukanya Samridhi Yojana

  • Small savings scheme for girl child

Side Note : Some women entrepreneurs to be quoted as example

  • Kiran Mazumdar : Biocon Limited (world’s leading Biotech company)
  • Rajni Bector : Cremica & Mrs Bector (Phillaur (Punjab) based company which is the largest food confectionary company of India) 

3. Other schemes

3.1 PM Mahila Shakti Kendra

  • These will be set-up at village level in all Anganwadi Centres. 
  • It will Empower women through training and capacity building .

3.2 Sakhi- one stop centre scheme

  • It provide  support ( rescue , medical and legal, psychological support ) to women affected by  Domestic Violence .

3.3 Working Women Hostel

  • To provide safe and conveniently located accommodation for working women, with day care facility for their children, in urban, semi urban, or even rural areas where employment opportunity for women exist .

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana

  • Objectives of the scheme
    1. Prevent female foeticide &  infanticide.
    2. Ensure every girl child is educated .
  • Funding Pattern : It is 100 % funded by the Centre .
  • Salient features of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana
    • Task Force  has been setup under the District Collector .
    • It ensures strict implementation of PCPNDT Act .
    • It also ensures strict implementation of POCSO Act  (POCSO= Protection of children from sexual offences).
    • Small Saving Scheme under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao known as Sukanya Samridhi Yojana has been started.

Inspite of these schemes, position of women is not that good

  • Global Gender Gap Report  2018 (by World Economic Forum) : India  is ranked 108 .
  • As per census 2011 , sex ratio for India is 940 females per 1000 of males .
  • According to  Lancet, nearly 10 million female abortions have taken place in India in the last 20 years.
  • Female literacy levels according to the Literacy Rate 2011 census are 65.46% where the male literacy rate is over 80%.
  • Woman Labour Force Participation is low (at 27%).
  • On an average,  66% of women’s work in India is unpaid, compared to 12% of men’s.
  • Global Wage Report points toward fact that Indian Woman are paid 30% lesser than males for same job .

What more should be done ?

Reproductive Health 

  • There is need to shift focus from female sterilisation to male sterilisation.


  • Mission mode approach for literacy among women  should be adopted.


  • Recognizing women’s unpaid work should be utmost priority.
  • Need to grant Rights of women to immovable property.

Governance and Decision Making

  • Number of women legislatures should be improved

Environment and Climate Change

  • Climate change will impact Women the most as
    • Higher temperatures will increase their labour in food processing & collection of potable water
    • Global warming will lead to low food => it will  affect females more than males due to unequal intra-household food allocations .

Other aspects

  • Programs should place women at centre stage.
  • Need to recognize special needs of single women including widows, separated, divorced and deserted.

Economic Survey Topic : Development as antidote to female issues

  • Development  is an antidote’ to problems faced by women in India  due to Convergence Effect ( i.e. when development happens , all socio-economic indicators improve) .
  • In India , Convergence Effect is seen in all female problems except
    • Female Labour Participation
    • Son Meta Preference (Sex Ratio of Last Child)
Development as antidote to female issues

(Note : Comparison is made  when other countries were at same wealth level )

Reason for above observation : Cultural Lag

  • Whenever development happens
    • If it is impacting peripheral values ,  changes will be accepted .
    • But when it is impacting any core value, it faces backlash and is not accepted easily.
  • For changing core values, demand for change should come from within the society .
  • Hence, development is necessary for social change but it is not a sufficient condition. 

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