Women Bill to curb sexual harassment in workplaces passed in Rajya Sabha #Vaw #Womenrights

 #India - Lets  ALL Resolve for  FREEDOM  from VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN this New Year #mustshare



Cases of sexual harassment of women at workplace, including against domestic help, will have to be disposed of by inhouse committees within a period of 90 days failing which penalty of Rs 50,000 would be imposed.

Repeated non-compliance of the provisions of the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Bill, can even lead to higher penalties and cancellation of licence or registration to conduct business.

The Bill, which has already been passed by Lok Sabha, was unanimously passed by Rajya Sabha on Tuesday, with Women and Child Development Minister Krishna Tirath promising to follow up the legislation with strict rules for its implementation.

The legislation brings in its ambit even domestic workers and agriculture labourers, both organised and unorganised sectors.

As per the Act, sexual harassment includes any one or more of unwelcome acts or behaviour such as physical contact and advances, a demand or request for sexual favours or making sexually coloured remarks or showing pornography.

The acts or behaviour whether directly, or by implication, include any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of sexual nature.

Non-compliance with the provisions of the Act shall be punishable with a fine of up to Rs. 50,000.

It has also provisions for safeguard against false or malicious charges.

The Bill makes it mandatory that all offices, hospitals, institutions and other workplaces should have an internal redressal mechanism for complaints related to sexual harassment.

The Act defines domestic worker as a woman employed to do household work in any household for remuneration whether in cash or kind, either directly or through any agency on temporary, permanent, part time or full time basis, but does not include any member of the family of the employer.

A Parliamentary Standing Committee, which had examined the Bill, had held the firm view that preventive aspects reflected in it has to be strictly in line with the Supreme Court guidelines in the 1997 Vishaka case.

The apex court’s judgement in the case not only defines sexual harassment at workplace but also lays down guidelines for its prevention and disciplinary action.


#India-The Art of Fair Budgeting #Gender

Gender budgeting — by clearly allocating funds for women’s development and protecting their interests with suitable tax policies — boosts female empowerment. But in India this process is simply about the government allocating funds and doing little else. It‘s time that changed


During the run-up to the budget, discussions on tax policies tend to hog the limelight. But little is often heard about improving the lot of Indian women in such proposals or debates. Fortunately, this time around, there’s a fair bit of work going on behind the scenes to ensure that ‘gender budgeting’ is not ignored, whether its via the allocation of funds for women’s development programmes, or in ensuring that tax policies (especially via duties on essential commodities) do not adversely impact a housewife’s purse-strings.
But there are other aspects of gender budgeting to consider as well. As Janet Stotsky, advisor, office of budget and planning (in the office of the managing director), International Monetary Fund, puts it: “Gender budgeting doesn’t require any special tools or techniques, but a recognition that fiscal policies impact women and men differently.”
“Gender budgeting brings a focus towards ensuring that government policies, both on the spending and revenue side, provide greater opportunities for women, a better standard of living and a fairer distribution of income. On the spending side, it could contribute to ensuring a better allocation of funds for programs such as health care, or availability of clean water. While such expenditure typically disproportionately benefits women it also positively benefits the society as a whole,” explains Stotsky.
She adds: “On the revenue side, it could help ensure that the tax code does not discriminate against women’s work effort or products that are the core expenditures of poor families, which are disproportionately headed by women.”
Gender budgeting’s Indian odyssey is a recent one. Gender sensitivity in allocation of resources and monitoring of select schemes was first introduced during the seventh five year plan (1987-92) when India joined the ranks of as many as 50 countries which had adopted gender budgeting. But formal earmarking of funds, of at least 30 per cent, in all women related sectors both at Central and State level, began only in the ninth five year plan (1997-2002).
However, the focus here continues to be largely on the spending side.
A 2004 expert committee attempted to change that. It made various suggestions, including establishment of gender budgeting cells in all ministries and departments. Today, approximately 56 ministries and departments have set up such cells.
According to the 2011 census, there are 59 crore women in India; they account for 48.46 per cent of India’s total population. Last year’s union budget (2012-13) allocated Rs 18,500 crore to the ministry of women and child development (MWCD — one of the key ministries working for women’s welfare). This allocation was an increase of 15 per cent as against a revised estimate of Rs 16,100 crore in the previous year. In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Krishna Tirath, minister for women and child development mentioned that the gross total allocations towards gender budget have steadily increased by 38 per cent over the last three years, from Rs 56,857.61 crore in 2009-10 to Rs 78,251.01 crore in 2011-12. Details of funds allocated and released towards various key schemes were also provided. (Refer Table)
One may argue about the need for more funds for various programs, but what is equally important is their timely release. Schemes such as Ujjawala (where funds are released to NGOs involved in the prevention of women trafficking, rescue and rehabilitation of women) fared better than other schemes where release of funds was lagging.
In this backdrop, Vibhuti Patel, head, post graduate economics, SNDT Women’s University points out: “Very often, allocations made are not released in time — the reasons could vary from faulty design, antipathy and bureaucratic bungling. Consequently, if the funds remain unutilised, in the subsequent year the allocation is slashed and the scheme fails to meet its objectives. There should be proper monitoring of fund allocation and its utilisation. Ideally, unutilised funds should be allowed to be carried forward next year.”
She also points out that the target of 30 per cent gender allocation under all ministries has not yet been achieved and must be immediately implemented. There is a dire need of greater accountability and transparency.
Even measuring outcomes is vital. “In India, owing to comparatively weak indicators for critical goals such as reduced maternal death rates, a high rate of female literacy and increased job participation, a follow through is essential to evaluate the outcomes,” stresses Stotsky.
The draft of the 12th five year plan (2012-17) has called for improving the mechanism of gender budgeting, beginning with bringing all ministries and government departments within its coverage and tabulation of gender specific MIS data. To aid purposive gender budgeting, a new methodology and format is to be drawn up so that all policies and programs are engendered from the initial stage.
“Women groups have been demanding a review of the format of the gender budgeting statement, for quite some time. The format must cover not only 100 per cent women specific schemes, or those where 30 per cent of funds are allocated for women, but also gender neutral schemes — such as those relating to education or employment and show to what extent the same have benefited women,” states Patel.
The draft plan also calls for ‘gender audits’, which are to be incorporated within the expenditure and performance audits conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (C&AG).
Most important of all, this draft states that formal
pre-budget consultations must be undertaken by the Finance Ministry with women’s groups, as is the practice in several countries. In fact, several countries have benefitted by actively involving women groups in the entire gender budgeting process.
For instance, Philippines introduced gender budgeting in 1996. In the initial period, funds meant for women development were allocated by government agencies towards strange causes such as ballroom dancing training for its female staff. Today, aided by two NGOs the process is better understood and properly monitored. In the UK, the Women’s Budget Group , comprising largely of women academicians, plays an important role in policy formulation.
The draft plan also calls for a task force to be set up under the MWCD to review the functioning of gender budget cells and to vet all new laws, policies and programs for gender inclusiveness. “One hopes that these suggestions are adopted and that the coming Union-Budget 2013-14 with appropriate allocation of funds, introduction of suitable schemes, empower women, economically and socially,” sums up Patel.

MAHILA EXPRESS: Gender budgeting mechanisms work effectively only if they cover all government departments



#Delhigangrape victim’s body to be flown back to India today #RIP #Vaw

Saturday, December 29, 2012, 09:13

Zeenews Bureau

Singapore: The 23-year-old girl, who put up a brave battle for life after she was gang-raped and brutally assaulted in a Delhi bus on December 16 that had created a nationwide outrage, died on Saturday morning in a hospital here.

The girl, who was admitted to the well-known multi-organ transplant facility Mount Elizabeth Hospital here on Thursday morning in an extremely critical condition, breathed her last at 4:45 am (2:15 am India time). She was earlier treated at the Safdarjung Hospital in Delhi.

  • Congress president Sonia Gandhi condoles death of Delhi gang-rape victim.
  • Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal tweeted this morning: “Aren’t we all responsible for her death? Can we all now do something so that half of humanity starts feeling safe amongst us?…Her death is a matter of shame and sorrow for all of us. Let’s resolve that we will not let her death go in vain”.
  • Reports say that JNU students will take out a silent march following Delhi gang-rape victim’s death.
  • Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said he was deeply saddened by the demise of the victim. “We tried our best to provide her the best possible health care…Government is committed to seek deterrent punishment for all the accused”.
  • President Pranab Mukherjee ‘deeply distressed by the unfortunate demise of the 23-year-old girl’.
  • Condoling the death of Delhi gang-rape victim, Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath appeals for calm, saying mindset of society needs change.
  • The body of the Delhi gang-rape victim, who died this morning, will be flown to India by a special chartered aircraft this afternoon, announced Indian High Commissioner to Singapore TCA Raghavan.
  • Delhi Police will invoke murder charges against the six men allegedly involved in the gang-rape and brutal assault of the girl in a moving bus after she died in a Singapore hospital 13 days after treatment.

    Reacting to the news of the death of the gang-rape victim, Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said it was a shameful moment not just as the CM but also as a citizen of the country.

  • Ten Metro stations – Pragati Maidan, Mandi House, Barakhamba Road, Rajiv Chowk, Patel Chowk, Central Secretariat, Udyog Bhawan, Race Course, Khan Market and Jorbagh – will remain closed.

  • Fearing large-scale protests following the death of the gang-rape victim, Delhi Police announced that India Gate and its surrounding areas that comprise the capital’s power centre would be out of bounds for the general public.

  • Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim and expressed the hope that the entire political class and civil society will set aside narrow sectional interests and agenda to make India a demonstrably safer place to live in.

  • The Singapore government condoled the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim, who breathed her last at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital this morning.

  • The 23-year-old girl, who was gang-raped and brutally assaulted i


India -Paying wife for domestic work ? A salary plan that changes nothing


MAYA JOHN, The Hindu

Instead of asking a man to pay his wife for her domestic work, the state must create jobs for women outside the home in order to truly empower them

Recently during a press conference called by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Minister of State (Independent Charge), Krishna Tirath, proposed the formulation of a bill through which a certain percentage of a husband’s salary would be compulsorily transferred to his wife’s bank account to compensate her for all the domestic work she performs for the family. According to the Minister, this percentage of husbands’ salaries would not be taxed and would provide women the much needed source of income to run the household better, and more importantly, to spend on her own, personal consumption. In a later clarification, the Minister identified this payment as an “honorarium” and not a salary which is to be paid to wives for all the services they otherwise render for free.

This proposition has not gone down well, especially with women of higher income brackets who see such proposed action as unnecessary intervention in the realm of the private, i.e. the realm of familial relations. Many such women also believe that this government intervention amounts to reducing wives into “glorified maids” who need to be paid every time they walk into the kitchen, wash the baby, sweep the house, etc. Sadly, what is sidelined amid all the clamour and jokes about commercialisation of the mia-biwi relationship is the necessity of recognising the back-breaking work performed by women to sustain their families. Of course, what we also lose sight of is the sheer hollowness of such proposed legislation. For example, such legislation, if implemented, would not provide women a source of income which they earn independently of their husbands. Instead, women would continue to depend on their husband’s earnings and employment status, and thus, remain dependent on the family structure for their individual financial sustenance.Indeed, the problem with the proposed legislation is not that it is unnecessary and demeaning, but that it is informed by a poor understanding of economics surrounding household work and women’s labour in general. Clearly, the question then is whether the Indian state is even serious about uplifting the position of the woman within the home and in recognising her contribution to the national economy.

Historical issue

Assigning an economic value to women’s domestic labour is a long-standing debate. The international women’s movement has continuously debated the question and reached many important conclusions. It is now time for the larger society to engage with the movement’s propositions seriously. First, as a society we must learn to accept that there is sheer drudgery involved in day-to-day household work. The fact that such work is performed by a woman for her husband and other family members in the name of “care” and “nurturing” cannot be used to conceal that this is a thankless job which the majority of women feel burdened by. Just because some women do not have to enter the kitchen every day since their maid does the needful, we cannot write-off the helplessness with which the average woman walks towards her kitchen hearth, every day without fail. Here, there is no retirement age, no holiday, and definitely, no concept of overtime.

Second, we must realise that the process whereby women’s domestic labour has been rendered uneconomic activity, is a historical one. It was with the emergence of industrial society and the resulting separation between the home and the workplace that women’s housework lost value whereas men’s labouroutside the home fetched wages. Third, as a society we must accept that while many are uncomfortable with providing an economic value to women’s domestic labour, chores such as washing, cleaning, cooking, child rearing, etc., are already assigned such a value by the market when need be. After all, many middle-class homes buy such services through the hiring of maids, paying for playschool education, crèche facilities, etc. Fourth, women’s domestic labour must be accounted for in the economy precisely because it is one of the contributing forces in the reproduction of labour power expended by this country’s working masses. In fact, because a woman’s domestic labour is devalued by the economy, a man’s wage can be kept low. For example, if all families were to pay every day for services like washing, cooking, cleaning, etc., because women of the household did not perform such duties, the breadwinners of each family would need to be paid higher wages so that they can afford to buy such services off the market.

The solution

This being the reality surrounding women’s unpaid, domestic labour, where does the actual solution lie? Does it lie in redistributing limited family incomes between husband and wife, or, in redistributing the national income so as to enhance individual family incomes, and hence, the woman’s share within the improved family consumption? Importantly, while pressing for valuation of women’s domestic labour, the progressive women’s movement has always argued that if the value of unpaid housework is paid but does not add to or increase the total household income, such remuneration amounts to nothing.Hence, one of the most important conclusions reached on this question of unpaid domestic labour is that the state should pay for it, especially by providing women gainful employment, special funding, subsidised home appliances, free health care, etc. In this way, women would earn through an independent source of income and be freed of an overt dependence on the family structure for their consumption. There would also be a gradual undermining of the sexual division of labour which has resulted in women being tied to their homes and unable to do little else.

Of course, what has not won much attention so far is the fact that the proposed legislation posits wages for housework rather than employment for women as a long-term solution. Indeed, questions have been raised whether the proposed legislation is implementable, but not whether it does the needful. For example, will the government be able to put in place the required administrative machinery? How exactly is the value of women’s household work to be calculated, or simply put, how many bais will equal a wife? Will the number of family members she rears determine whether she is entitled to greater compensation? And what of widowed women who do not have a husband’s salary to draw on?

Absolves the state

However, implementation is far from the real problem with such legislation. Mechanisms can always be put in place if administrative sincerity prevails. The real problem with the Ministry’s endeavour is the rationale by which it is driven. The proposed legislation should be criticised because it absolves the Indian state of the responsibility it owes to women who contribute daily in sustaining the national economy. Indeed, if the proposed legislation is formulated and implemented, it will only result in undervaluing and underpaying women’s domestic labour.

To elucidate, if we actually sit down to calculate the cost of all the different household chores a wife does for free, the figure would easily touch amounts that in no way can be compensated by a small percentage of the husband’s wages. Furthermore, with varied family incomes, such legislation would result in women being remunerated differently for the same kind and same amount of domestic work. In the case of the average working class or lower-middle class family where the total family income is anywhere between Rs.2,000 to Rs.10,000 per month, such legislation would assign women a pittance as an economic value for their back-breaking housework. This pittance will not empower the woman as the total family income remains the same. Without a growth in the actual family income, neither will such families be able to change their consumption pattern, nor will the nature of household work change so as to enable women to do other things instead of just labouring at home.

Clearly then, the issue at stake is how to minimise housework for women so that they too can step out of the home to earn, to enhance family incomes and to have greater say in family as well as public matters. Greater employment generation for women by the state, and widespread introduction of facilities like crèches at all workplaces, subsidised home appliances, unhindered promotion post child birth/maternity leave, etc. are the need of the hour. While direct employment helps to create women who are financially independent, the provision of the latter helps women to remain in the labour market, despite starting a family. If the average woman is to be freed of the yoke of household drudgery then it is evidently the Indian state which has to pay by creating concrete conditions for her greater economic participation outside the home.

(Maya John is an activist and researcher based in Delhi University.)




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