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Why in news?

Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani sought to send the message that “The government and its machinery are working for women who seek protection” through a video-conference on 8th April 2020.

Why was this needed?

  • The appeal comes at a time gender rights activists and the U.N. have called for the need to boost helplines, psycho-social support and online counselling as well as demanded that these be declared essential services so that women in distress can continue to access help.
  • The National Commission of Women has recorded a more than two-fold rise in domestic violence and sexual assaults and a three-fold increase in cases of police apathy in the first week of lockdown since March 24.

What is the Women and Child Development Ministry doing about it?

  • Officils were instructed to ensure that One Stop Centres, which provide legal and psycho-social help to survivors of gender-based violence, are linked with local medical teams, police and the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) so that their services are not impacted due to restrictions on movement.
  • One Stop Centre teams must also be linked with NIMHANS to equip counsellors across the country to deal with the unique problems faced by women.
  • Under lockdown, we must use digital governance to ensure safety of women which must be replicated at the State-level and with NGOs so that there is no deficit of either information or help.
  • NGOs were also urged to try to ensure that every individual calls at least 10 women every day so that “women know that they are not alone”.

National Commission for Women

  • The National Commission for Women (NCW) is the statutory body of the Government of India – Established under provisions of the 1990 National Commission for Women Act.
  • NCW is generally concerned with advising the government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • The objective of the NCW is to represent the rights of women in India and to provide a voice for their issues and concerns.
  • The subjects of their campaigns have included dowry, politics, religion, equal representation for women in jobs, and the exploitation of women for labour.
  • They have also discussed police abuses against women.
  • The commission regularly publishes a monthly newsletter, Rashtra Mahila, in both Hindi and English.
February 2024