By Raveesh Benjamin
Raipur, To empower women, it is important to ensure their rights, their safety and to provide them opportunities to grow and move ahead on the path of success, along with proper healthcare and education facilities. With this vision and mission, Chhattisgarh Government has adopted the policy of making women financially independent while ensuring their rights. On the initiative of Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel, creative skills of women have been combiled with the local resources to open new avenues for their personal, social and economic development.
According to the India Index report 2020-21 released by NITI Aayog, Chhattisgarh ranks first in terms of gender equality. As a result of state government’s dedicated efforts to improve maternal and child health, the MMR of Chhattisgarh which was 159 between 2016 and 2018 has now come down to 137. Chhattisgarh has made great strides in eradication of malnutrition and anaemia. Mukhyamantri Supashan Abhiyan was commenced on October 2, 2019, and since then 2 lakh 65 thousand children in Chhattisgarh have become malnutrition free and one lakh 50 lakh women of the state have been cured of anaemia. Chhattisgarh ranks third in the country for providing IFA (Iron Folic Acid) supplementation to children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating women under Anemia Mukt Bharat Abhiyan.
As a result of the women empowerment policies implemented in Chhattisgarh, more than 50 thousand women have now become financially self-dependent amd they are also contributing towards the economic progress of the state. Besides their sucess in the forest produce business, rural women in the District Mineral Trust Fund Board are also preparing policies for themselves as members of the Gram Sabha. About 300 rural industrial parks have been started in the state, where women are getting good employment opportunities. In the same sequence, about four thousand sisters have been appointed as ‘BC Sakhi’ to provide banking facilities in remote rural areas. Chhattisgarh State Rural Livelihood Mission: About 27 lakh women from poor families are now associated with 02 lakh 54 thousand self-help groups.
Bastar’s Danteshwari Fighters, who are courageously taking a front against the Naxalites in the dense forests of Bastar, have become an inspiration for the entire country. In the gauthans built in every village of the state under Godhan Nyaya Yojana, about 45 percent participation is of women. Empowered through the economic activities of gauthans, these women have started supporting their families with their income. New concepts such as Rural Industrial Park and C-Mart store has given a new dimension to the economic empowerment of women. Better market is available for the products made by women in gauthans. The female employees working DANNEX Garment Factory of Dantewada, a tribal district of Bastar, have set a striking example of economic empowerment by establishing the brand of DANNEX in the country and abroad. Mahua Laddu made by women of Bijapur, Tikhur Shake of Kondagaon, tamarind-candy of Sukma and Phool Jhadu of Narayanpur are also in demand.
*Mahila Kosh Budget of Rs 25 crores*
To encourage the women groups for taking loan from Mahila Kosh to conduct economic activities, State Government has waived off the previous loan of Rs 12 crore taken by the women self-help groups. Moreover, the upper limit for the loan amount has also been increased by two to four times. A historic increase has been made in the budget of Mahila Kosh. Previously, annual allocation of only one or two crore was available to Mahila Kosh, but in the year 2023-24, an annual budget of Rs 25 crore has been allocated under this head. In the financial year 2022-23, Chhattisgarh Mahila Kosh sanctioned the loan amount of Rs 10 crore 70 lakh to more than 10 thousand 500 women, which is the highest in last 5 years. State Government is planning to implement new Kaushalya Samridhi Yojana, under which women will be provided loan at 3 percent interest rate on easy terms for business purposes. For this, an additional budget of Rs 25 crore has been approved.
Women Entrepreneurship Policy
The more empowered women are, the faster will be the development of the state. State Government is implementing Women Entrepreneurship Policy 2023-28 in Chhattisgarh with an aim to give a new height to the potential of women. Under this policy, financial aid has been provisioned for women to set up enterprises, various kinds of exemptions have been given and a number of provisions have been made for women entrepreneurs of the state interested in manufacturing venture projects. In addition, loan facility of Rs 10 to 50 lakh, exemption from electricity duty, additional stamp duty, transport grant, exemption from mandi fee, rent grant is also being provided. A provision of 5 percent additional grant and one year additional exemption has also been made for women self-help groups and start-up enterprises established by women, this will further boost the participation of women in industry and trade.
*Ration cards issued and houses registered in the name of women*
Chhattisgarh government is giving one percent discount on land and property registration in the name of women. Ration cards and house allotments are being made in the name of women. In order to safeguard women’s rights in government services, arrangements have been made to compulsorily keep a woman representative in the committees formed for recruitment, promotion, scrutiny of documents. To prevent sexual crimes, a committee has been formed in each office, which investigates the matter and submits a report to the senior officers for taking necessary action.
*Hostels for working women*
Along with working hostels in every division, women’s hostels have been established in the district headquarters. Help desks for women are being operated in the police stations. Abhivyakti app has been developed by Chhattisgarh Police for women. Through women helpline number 181 and Sakhi Centre, immediate help and shelter can be provided to the victimized women. So far 37 thousand 158 women have been provided assistance and 13 thousand 750 women have been given shelter. Assistance has been provided to 4331 women in cases of domestic violence through Nava Bihan Yojana.
*More honor and More honorarium*
The state government has increased the amount of honorarium for the female workers who are taking care of the health and well-being of a large number of women and children in the state. In this year’s budget, the monthly honorarium of Anganbadi workers in 46 thousand 660 Anganbadi centers of the state has been increased from Rs 06 thousand 500 to Rs 10 thousand per month. The honorarium of Anganbadi assistants has been increased from Rs 03 thousand 250 to Rs 5 thousand per month. The honorarium of mini Anganbadi workers has been increased from Rs 04 thousand 500 to Rs 07 thousand 500 per month. In addition to the incentive amount given to Mitanin sisters, a provision has also been made in the budget to give honorarium at the rate of Rs. 2200 per month. Honorarium of cooks, who prepare mid-day meals has also been increased in the new budget, which will benefit many rural women.
*Financial aid of Rs 50 thousand for Kanya Vivaah*
Chief Minister Mr. Bhupesh Baghel has taken several decisions in the interest of women. He increased the amount of financial aid given under Mukhyamantri Kanya Vivah Yojana twice during his tenure. In 2019, this amount was increased from Rs 15 thousand to Rs 25 thousand and now it has been increased to Rs 50 thousand. The amount of social security pension to the destitute, elderly, disabled, widow and abandoned women has also been increased.
*Nine New Women’s Colleges*
In order to advance women in the field of education, it is important to create awareness about women’s rights. This is why 2239 legal and women awareness camps were organized last year. This year, the budget of Mahila Jagruti Shivir item has been doubled from Rs 4.85 crore to Rs 9.33 crore. Moreover, women are also being educated about their legal rights through through Chief Minister Mahtari Nyaya Rath of State Women’s Commission. With the opening of new women’s colleges in nine district headquarters of the state, better facilities of higher education is being made available for female students.