National Commission of Women
- Key Functions of the National Commission of Women
- Key Achievements of National Commission of Women (NCW) in the last 21 years of its existence
- Key Criticisms and Limitations
- NCW was set up as a statutory body in Jan 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990.
- It consists of a chairperson, five members and a member secretary all to be nominated by Central government.
Key Functions of the National Commission of Women (NCW) includes:
- Reviewing the existing constitutional and legal framework related to women and recommend changes to make them more effective.
- Take up violation of rights of women with appropriate authority.
- Act on complaints suo motu in relation to issues concerning deprivation of women.
- Inspect institutions where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise and if necessary,
take up with relevant authorities any remedial action.
- The commission also has powers that are vested in a Civil Court.
- It submits an annual report before the central government. Apart from this, it submits other reports which it deems to be fit.
Key Achievements of National Commission of Women (NCW) in the last 21 years of its existence:
- Gender Mainstreaming: The NCW has collaborated with non-governmental organizations and civil society groups to extend its reach and impact in addressing women’s issue.
- Addressing Violence against women: The NCW has played a crucial role in addressing violence against women, including domestic violence, dowry-related violence etc. It has also raised awareness, provided support to victims, and advocated for stronger legal measures to protect rights of women.
- Policy Advocacy: NCW has been involved in laws and policy related to women including Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, Rehabilitation) Act etc.
- Gender Sensitization and Awareness Programs are being run by the Commission
- For e.g. in collaboration with Kendriya Vidyalayas they are running these kinds of programs for class XI and Class XII students.
- Helplines and Support Services: To provide assistance to women facing various forms of violence and discrimination. These helplines offer counselling, legal aid, and other forms of support.
- International Engagements: NCW has engaged in international collaborations and partnerships to address gender issues.
- Research cell of the NCW also looks after emerging problems of Indian women due to discrimination and gender bias.
But, over the years NCW has also been criticized for failing to tackle the problems faced by women in various parts of India.
- Serious issue of sexual violence against women during the Manipur Violence.
- The practice of dowry in direct and indirect forms is rampant within the country
- The representation of women in senior leadership position including as MLAs and MPs is still below the global standards.
Key Criticisms and Limitations:
- Limited power to enforce its recommendations: This has made it challenging for them to ensure compliance with its directives.
- Women’s Commissions at the National Level and State Levels have become toothless tigers, merely pushing papers around.
- They seem busy more in paper work, failing to prioritize field visits.
- Political Appointments in the commission: Since the members of the commission are
nominated by government, most of the commission (National Commission as well as State Commissions) are wary of even minor criticism of the government. Also, they are over enthusiastic in taking up matters in states ruled by opposition.
- Resource Constraints: The commission suffers from financial and logistical constraints, limiting its reach and effectiveness in addressing issues at grassroot levels.
- They are dependent on grants offered from central government which are very less to cater to its needs.
- For e.g. in the recent case of Manipur violence, NCW was so overwhelmed with the number of complaints that it could just forward the complaints to appropriate authority.
- Lack of Awareness: Many women are not even aware of the NCW’s existence or its services, leading to underutilization of its resources.
- Complex legal framework also hinders the work of NCW in ensuring grievance redressal of women.
- Deep rooted Social and Cultural Norms, stereotypes and attitudes towards women continue to perpetuate gender-based discrimination and violence, making it difficult to eradicate such issues solely through institutional interventions.
- All these factors hinder the grievance redressal in various women issues and the evil of dowry, domestic violence, sexual harassment etc. against the women continued.
- The NCW needs to be provided with more executive power to ensure enforceability of its recommendations.
- Reforming the Selection Process for Chairperson and Members of Commission:
- Advertise for the post of chairpersons and members.
- From the people who have applied and have required qualifications, selection should be made by a committee consisting of member from ruling party, from opposition party, a Supreme Court Judge and a representative of Women NGOs.
- Regular Social Audit of the performance of the Commission: This would given citizens an idea of their actual working and increase their accountability towards citizens.
- Allocate more resources to NCW, enabling it to conduct comprehensive investigations,
outreach programs, and awareness campaigns to reach to marginalized and vulnerable
- Foster collaboration with Civil Society to better understand the situation on ground and impact of various initiatives.
- NCW along with other stakeholders also need to continuously work towards changing societal attitudes towards gender roles.
- By the implementation of suggested solutions, the National Commission for Women can enhance its effectiveness and play a proactive role in safeguarding women’s rights, promoting gender equality, and addressing the challenges faced by women in India.
- Is the National Commission for Women able to strategize and tackle the problems that women face at both public and private spheres? Give reasons in support of your answer [Mains 2017, 15 marks, 250 words]
- What are the limitations and challenges faced by the National Commission of Women in terms of its jurisdiction and enforcement of recommendations? Suggest ways to overcome these challenges and strengthen its impact? [15 marks, 250 words]