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Bihar's lesson, empowering women is empowering society

Purnia, Mon, 05 Mar 2012 ANI

Purnia (Bihar) Mar 5 (ANI): The status of women in a society is one of the parameters to track development. Even though men and women both play a vital role in society, it is the latter that have been given the status of almighty goddess in Indian Mythology.


e it the freedom struggle of the country or social, political and cultural reforms transpiring in states or communities - women were and are at the forefront.


Post- Independence, the Indian Constitution granted women equal rights and entitlements in order to put them on the path of development. All these efforts for the upliftment of females in the society seemingly appear to be false when we see this "half the population" of the country still fighting for their basic rights at individual and community level.


Bihar, like most parts of India, has a patriarchal society. Here women have faced a disadvantaged position for ages. The upsurge in the statistics of dowry, illiteracy, malnutrition, sexual harassment and female mortality, has created huge challenges in front of the Bihar Government.


To tackle challenges of similar intensity, numerous initiatives have been taken by the Bihar Government at administrative and the societal level which one can see as significant steps towards women empowerment.


In Bihar, the successful operation of Panchayati Raj System allows us to understand the empowerment strategy from a better angle. The outcome of its completed tasks and expected results of its ongoing work have contributed in changing the age old patriarchal mentality of the society. The social transformation - an outcome of the women empowerment -- in the state is visible to the entire community.


There was a time when every woman of the state would fear abduction once they stepped out of the house. But now the same woman, after shedding all her inhibitions, has valiantly come out of the veil. Asha, a 12-year-old girl, used to envy her brother whenever she saw him riding on a bicycle to the school. She too wanted to study, but could not go to school. . Today things have changed, and several girls like Asha, carry bags on their backs and go to school cheerfully.


The 50 percent reservation given to women in Panchayats has had a positive influence. They have broken the shackles of dependency and have come forward quite confidently.


Be it child education, marriage, health or voting, they have developed a rational attitude towards life. Hitherto the male members of the family guided them as to whom they should cast their vote to but now they are politically aware and enthusiastic about the role they play in electing the members.


Their role is not restricted to voting. Panchayat Elections in the year 2011 witnessed the enrolment of three lakh women candidates from the entire state. Bihar became the first state to offer provision of 50 percent reservation for women in Panchayats.


Of the 2.62-lakh representatives, 1.32 lakh are women. To strengthen the linkage between the women and her role in the society, the State has also given fifty percent reservation to them for the post of teachers in primary and secondary schools.


The elected members are coming out as instruments of change in the society. Concrete steps taken by one of the elected woman candidates reflect her balanced approach towards the social and development issues. For example, these "naive" leaders are well aware of the ill effects of alcohol and other drugs and are thus promoting awareness at the community platform. Its effect can be seen in the form of "alcohol-ban movement" successfully carried out by them.


Their awareness is not restricted to social level; in fact they are contributing their bit at the economical level as well. The small units of cottage industry set up by these women participants have shown a new direction and are strengthening the economy of the state.


In the previous years, if any increment in the overall literacy rate of women has been registered anywhere in the country, then Bihar has certainly taken the lead position. The president of the country honoured the state with "Decadal Literacy Award" and asked the entire country to take inspiration from Bihar.


Education has been the prime focus of the state government. The launch of Balika Cycle Yojana has been an incentive for the girls of Bihar. Instead of twelve percent children who were out of school in the past, there are now only three percent. The rest are riding their way to the schools.


Recently, the government has decided to provide every girl a sum of Rs 1000 studying in class 9th to 12th under the Baalika Poshak Yojana and the scheme is supposed to benefit seven lakh girl students. In 2012, under the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojana, an increased sum of Rs 2500 per candidate will be given to girls. The scheme will benefit an estimated number of 5, 83, 860 girls.


The girl students of Faukaaniya (equivalent to metric) of the state government subsidized Madarasas will also benefit from the cycle Yojana.


The initiatives taken for the empowerment of women have extensively altered the perspective of the society. Today, the statistics for mother-child mortality rate is facing a downfall. To strengthen the population stabilisation programme, the work plan is run under the public private partnership. The total fertility rate for Bihar is 3.9 percent. In the year 2010-11, a total of 5.16 sterilisation operations were carried out while 3.46 copper-Ts were successfully inserted as a part of the population programme.


With the assistance of ASHA workers birth control pills, emergency birth control pills and contraceptives are offered at pre- defined rates in 36 districts of the total 38. In the district hospitals and sub- division hospitals of these 36 districts, these birth control pills and contraceptives are distributed free of cost.


Today we can say that the changes are sweeping across the state


The Charkha Development Communication Network feels that the contemporary social and economic situation demands the strengthening and empowerment of the women and Bihar has taken a step in this direction. By Kunal Kumar (ANI)



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