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From raising marriage age for women to sex ration at birth improving, a year end review on women empowerment

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New Delhi, Dec 28: To ensure development, care and protection of Women and Children, the Ministry of Women and Child Development has undertaken various measures through initiatives under various schemes, legislation, simplification of procedures, celebrations to spread awareness and facilitate access to learning, nutrition, institutional and legislative support for enabling the women and children to grow, strengthen and develop to their full potential.

From raising marriage age for women to sex ration at birth improving, a year end review on women empowerment

The key initiatives/achievements of the Ministry of Women and Child Development during the Year 2021 are as under:

Age of Marriage of Women: The Bill on Prohibition of Child Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2021 has been introduced in Lok Sabha on 21.12.2021 for raising the age of marriage of women from 18 years to 21 years.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao: The scheme is being implemented across India and covering 640 districts (as per Census 2011) across the country. Out of 640 districts, 405 districts are covered under multi-sectoral intervention along with Media Advocacy under direct supervision of DMs/DCs and all 640 districts are covered through advocacy & media campaign. The Scheme has stirred up collective consciousness towards changing the mindset of the Nation towards valuing the girl child. This is reflected in the improvement of Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) by 19 points at National level, from 918 in 2014-15 to 937 in 2020-21(HMIS, of MH&FW).

POSHAN Tracker: To promote the nutritional status of women and children, a transparent and enabling environment is being created that nurtures health, wellness and immunity. Poshan Tracker application has been built on latest technology for ensuring real-time monitoring of supplementary nutrition and providing information for prompt supervision and management of services. As on 24.12.2021, 12.27 lakh Anganwadis are uploading data on Poshan Tracker, covering approximately 9.85 crore beneficiaries.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY): The Scheme envisages providing cash incentive amounting to ₹ 5,000/- in three installments directly to the Bank/Post Office Account of Pregnant Women and Lactating Mother (PW&LM) in DBT Mode during pregnancy and lactation. It is a measure for women empowerment through wage compensation and promotion of health seeking behavior. As on 24.12.2021, 2.17 crs beneficiaries have benefitted with a total payment to a tune of Rs.9457/-crs under the scheme.

PM CARES Fund for children in distress due to COVID-19- A web portal for PM CARES for Children Scheme namely pmcaresforchildren.in has been launched on 15.07.2021 for registration and identification of the beneficiaries to support children who have lost both the Parents or legal Guardian or Adoptive Parents or Surviving Parent to COVID-19 pandemic during the period starting from 11.03.2020. A series of web meetings were held with concerned Ministries/Departments and States/UTs to update the details of children on the portal. As per the portal, total applications registered as on 24.12.2021 is 6098 out of which 3481 applications have been approved by the District Magistrates and Post Office accounts have been opened for 3275 beneficiaries under the scheme. Scheme guidelines are available at: https://wcd.nic.in/acts/pm-cares-children-scheme-guidelines

One Stop Centres: For women affected by violence and in need of assistance, a range of integrated services are being provided under one roof, including facilitation with police, medical and legal aid and counseling and psycho-social counseling through 704 One Stop Centers or Sakhi Centers across 34 States/UTs. Also, emergency/non-emergency help is provided through toll-free women helpline (181). As on 24.12.2021, assistance has been provided to over 54 lakh women.

Nirbhaya Fund: A meeting of Empowered Committee (EC) of Officers was held on 26.03.2021 in which besides reviewing the status of implementation of earlier approved projects/ schemes, the EC had approved 'in-principle' 16 initiatives to be undertaken for safety & security of women on various aspects such as training of duty bearers, drivers, mental health, lighting of dark spots, providing timely victim compensation, Police Assistance Booth, Relief and shelter support to minor girls etc. In addition, the EC has also appraised 3 projects/schemes of Govt. of Bihar, Govt. of Punjab and Govt. of Uttar Pradesh on women safety. Further, during current financial year 2021-22, Two proposals worth Rs.114.89 Cr. viz. (1) proposal for opening One Stop Centers (OSCs) in India Missions abroad -Rs.40.79 Cr.) and (2) Schemes for critical care and support for accessing justice to rape/gang-rape survivors and minor girl who get pregnant- Rs.74.10 Cr., were appraised on 28.04.2021 and an amount of Rs. 17.31 Cr. was appraised for the proposal of DNA analysis in four more States/UTs on 30.09.2021

Expansion of Childline: Childline 1098, a 24-hour a day, 365 days a year, free, emergency phone service, is a nation-wide initiative for rescuing and assisting children in need of aid. This year, Childline has also started Childline Services at Bus Stands and presently is available at 9 Bus Stands, in addition to its presence in railway stations.

Supplementary Nutrition Programme under ICDS: In keeping with the announcement of Hon'ble Prime Minister on 15th August, 2021 from the Red Fort, the Ministry has taken a decision to distribute 100% fortified rice to States/ UTs under Supplementary Nutrition Programme to address the issue of malnutrition faced by women and children.

Juvenile Justice Amendment Act: The Government has notified on 9th August, 2021 the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Amendment Act, 2021 to strengthen the implementation and monitoring mechanism under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015. Among others, the JJ Amendment Act, 2021 empowers the District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to effectively coordinate and monitor the functions of the agencies responsible for implementation of JJ Act, 2015 and decide the cases of adoption under the provisions of the Act and also introduces eligibility conditions for appointment of the members of Child Welfare Committee.

Simplification of Adoption procedure:

The Juvenile Justice Act 2015 has been amended through Govt notification on 9.8.2021 and one of the most important features of the amendments is that it includes authorizing District Magistrate including Additional District Magistrate to issue adoption orders under Section 61 of the JJ Act, in order to ensure speedy disposal of cases and enhance accountability. District Magistrate has to function as the grievance redressal authority and the Divisional Commissioner as appellate authority in the matter of adoption. The District Magistrates have been further empowered under the Act, to ensure its smooth implementation, as well as garner synergized efforts in favour of children in distress conditions.
On 17th Sept 2021, Government has notified "Procedure for children adopted under the Hindu Adoption & Maintenance Act, 1956 by persons who desire to relocate a child abroad" to simplify procedure related to adoption by Hindu prospective adoptive parents or adoptive parents residing outside the country. CARA has been empowered to issue NOC in such cases of adoptions on the basis of verification by the District Magistrate and necessary permission from the receiving country.
Registered Overseas Citizens of India have been granted parity with Non-Resident Indians in the matter of adoption, as per notice dated 4.3.2021.

POSHAN Pakhwada (16th-31st March, 2021): Poshan Pakhwada was organised from 16th-31st March, 2021. In order to reaching out to masses and touching the remotest of locations to sensitize target beneficiaries and stakeholders during these 16 days of celebrations, Poshan Pakhwada was dedicated around the following themes.

Addressing nutritional challenges through Food Forestry

  • Poshan Panchayat
  • AYUSH for Well being
  • Food and Nutrition Forestry and Plantations: India@75
  • Back to Basics - Yoga for Health
  • Poshan Vatika
  • Poshan ke Paanch Sutra
  • Traditional Recipes for Health - My Kitchen My Dispensary
  • AYUSH Application for Nutritional Support: India@75

Through the Plantation Drive supported by Ministry of AYUSH, 1.10 lakh saplings of medicinal and nutrition rich plants have been planted in 21 districts in 6 States, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Mizoram during Poshan Pakhwada, 2021. Around 10.92 lakh new Kitchen Gardens have been set-up in Anganwadi Centres/ Community land and in the premises of beneficiaries in the month of March, 2021. Around 10.50 lakh Vegetable Kits have been distributed through the National Seeds Corporation Limited to the selected dignitaries and Anganwadi Centres via India Post to promote Kitchen Gardens for ensuring availability and accessibility of micronutrients and vitamin sources at grass root levels.

Rashtriya Poshan Maah (September 2021): The 4th Rashtriya POSHAN Maah was celebrated in September 2021 to bring together communities across India to work collectively to achieve the common goal of Suposhit Bharat focusing on four key themes, viz., Plantation activity on "Poshan Vatika", Yoga and AYUSH for Nutrition, Nutrition Kits Distribution to Anganwadi beneficiaries in High Burden Districts and Identification of SAM children. A two-day national conference was organised by the Ministry on 30th-31st August, 2021 at Kevadia, Gujarat to discuss various issues relating to nutrition of women and children.

During the Poshan Maah, webinars were held on "Importance of Poshan Vatika in alleviation of Malnutrition", "Rice fortification", "Millet's and Food Security - Nutritional Perspective", "Importance of first 1000 Days, Early Childhood Care & Development (ECCD) and Prevention & Management of Malnutrition" in collaboration with partnering Ministries. Various camps were organized to spread general awareness regarding importance of intake of natural food, Identification of SAM and MAM children's. The other activities included Jan Andolan on Yoga, Poshan rallies to raise awareness on right nutrition and healthy balanced diet, Anaemia Awareness cum Detection Camps etc.
Poshan Maah in 2021 witnessed an overwhelming response from all stakeholders and 20.3 crore activities were conducted by States/UTs during Poshan Maah-2021.

'Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav': Children Ideas, Rights & Nutrition: To commemorate the monumental occasion of India's 75 years' independence, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav with theme of 'Children Ideas, Rights & Nutrition' child week was celebrated by Ministry during 14th to 21st November, 2021. The objective of the program was to generate awareness about child rights and stimulate the collective thought process of the community at large in this direction mainly through outreach activities in Child Care Institutions (CCIs) and Specialised Adoption Agencies. The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) organized a National Programme with various stakeholders on Child Rights with emphasis on preventive aspects of child protection issues on 21st November, 2021.

During the week, Ministry organized Sensitization programmes/Webinars along with Meets for Adoptive Parents & Prospective Adoptive Parents. A webinar on Child Rights was also organized by NIPCCD with participation of senior officials from Ministry of Law & Justice, Centre for Child Rights, NCERT, UNICEF and 1600 multiple stakeholders working for children. Elocution competitions were held with the topic 'Vision for India for next 25 years' for children at Child Care Institutions. Children also visited National Museums. The events were held in CCIs in all the States of the country.

Besides, an event 'Sangram Se Samvidhan Tak' was celebrated on 26.11.2021 at the UN House on the occasion of Constitution Day as a part of the Azaadi ka Amrit Mahotsav. The event celebrated women as the driving force in India's freedom and democracy.

National Conference on Women Winning against TB

Tuberculosis remains a public health challenge worldwide, negatively impacting the lives of around 26 lakh individuals every year in India alone. On the social front, social stigma and discrimination is faced by those affected by TB, and by their families. Societal constraints restrict women affected by TB from freely accessing prompt and continued care. This affects their role as caretakers and prevents prioritisation of their nutrition, health, and well-being.

Recognising this concern, Ministry of Women and Child Development along with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare organised a National Conference on Tuberculosis on December 16, 2021 in New Delhi.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu was the Chief Guest at the National Conference which was attended by over a thousand delegates, including Members of Parliament, Ministry and State representatives, TB Champions, Development Partners, Academics, Experts and Media. As a first, over 150 Anganwadi workers also joined the audience.

The Conference discussed various policy interventions and underlined that undernutrition along with its engendered pattern is an important and established risk factor for the progression of latent TB infection to active TB. Therefore, the battling of TB stigma, ensuring that women actively seek and complete TB care along with adequate nutritional support, and ensuring that there is whole-of-society participation in achieving the goal to eliminate TB by 2025 were highlighted.

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