Maharshtra to respect woman’s right to own her surname #goodnews #Womensday


Sandeep Ashar TNN 
Mumbai: The state is seeking to respect a woman’s right to use her own surname, set up a separate censor board for TV and protect women employed in late-night jobs. These are some highlights of the new policy on women, which will be officially unveiled on Friday, 12 years after the state’s previous policy was released.
The state would issue a directive stating that it would not insist on a woman using her husband’s or father’s surnames in government procedures and schemes. Action would be initiated against officials violating the directive.
Objecting to the “indecent” or “disrespectful” portrayal of women in serials, films and the media, the policy highlights the need for regulatory mechanisms, including a censor board for television. About 50% of members on such a censor board would be women. The members would include social
workers and women from NGOs. The head of the censor board would not be a person from the film, television or advertisement fraternity, the policy controversially states.
The policy also seeks special guidelines for the safety of women employed in late-night jobs, while advocating strict action against acts of moral policing. There would be stricter punishment for those involved in acid attacks.
Laws are to be amended to help women in live-in relationships claim maintenance after separation. Divorce laws would be changed to reduce the separation period from two years to one in cases of mutual consent.
Stricter punishment would be given to doctors guilty of illegal abortions and pre-natal sex determination.
The government would make it mandatory for educational institutions to hold karate workshops once in three months for girl students. To arrest the dropout ratio, it would lower the interest rate on loans for higher education for girls and extend the time for repayment. Schools would have to compulsorily appoint a woman physical training teacher. Sanitary pads would be made available to students at concessional rates.
The policy seeks to improve the welfare of various disadvantaged sections, like sex workers and transgenders. The state aims to offer residential accommodation to out-of-work transgenders. A welfare board and census are proposed for transgenders, who would be issued pink ration cards.
OTHER FEATURES OF POLICY P rime-time serials to have women-related messages and helpline numbers | Women’s health index to be charted | Sexeducation in school curricula | Govt dept to use 10% funds for women’s development | Terminal care centres for elderly women | Special girls’ room mandatory in schools | Toilets every 0.5km

 

Call for images from the IG Khan Memorial Trust



Calling for images

The IG Khan Memorial Trust is looking for images on the broad theme of
Labour and Dignity. The Trust, founded in memory of the late Dr IG Khan (a
historian and teacher at Aligarh Muslim University who worked on a variety
of social issues), organizes an annual lecture and events in association
with the university on the idea of social justice. For more on our work and
past events, see our website www.igkhan.org

We are looking for images on the (very) broad idea of labour and dignity.
These can be photographs, or drawings, or sketches, or calligraphy,
graphics or graffiti. The images can be to do with gender, work, child
labour, manual labour, obsolete labour, rickshaw pullers, paid and unpaid
work…feel free to interpret the idea in any way. For more details on our
event and work see www.igkhan.org

We will use these images in different forms during our memorial event/s on
AMU campus. Photographers and artists interested in sending work can email
us high-resolution copies at igmemorialtrust@gmail.com with permission for
one-time use. We can give credit (please specify credit line) but cannot
afford to pay for use.

Look forward to receiving your images!

 

Srilanka Bans Birth Control Surgery to Protect Dwindling Sinhala Race #Vaw


Govt Bans LRT on Women and Vasectomy on Men After Bodhu Bala Sena Protested Against Birth Control to Protect Dwindling Sinhala Race

24 February 2013, 6:10 am

By Chrishanthi Christopher

Last week the government sent out a communiqué to all government hospitals and private institutions banning all irreversible family planning methods that control birth.

Following the ban Maternity Hospitals and Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that do Ligation and Resection of Tubes (LRT) on women and Vasectomy on men shelved their plans and struck off all scheduled procedures from the hospital registers. This follows an announcement by the government that the procedures should not be carried out on women and men unless it is done for medical purposes.

Maternity Hospitals, Gynaecology Units of Base Hospitals and NGOs dealing with population control came under deep shock. They say that the government’s call comes without any warning.

Health Ministry, Secretary, Dr. Nihal Jayatilake said that the procedure hitherto being done on men and women should not be carried out unless it is for a medical reason. He refused to explain the reasons for the ban but stressed that none of the NGOs are allowed to carry out any permanent birth control methods. “This is government policy,” he said.

Ironically this call come at time when the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a movement claiming to be protecting Sinhala culture and values called on the government to put an end to all irreversible methods of birth control claiming that the Sinhala nation is dwindling.

Against their will

They say that women and men of the productive age group are pushed into accepting the procedure against their will by certain NGOs who have vested interests. The BBS General Secretary, Gala Boda Atte Gnanasara Thera told Ceylon Today that the Sinhala women who go to the hospitals to give birth are unwittingly opting for the procedure. He blamed the midwives and attendants in the hospitals for misleading young mothers who come there for confinement. “They are trained to advocate the procedure to young mothers. We are against this type of behaviour. Our women are misled or pushed into believing that they should not have more than two children,” he said.

Gnanasara Thera said that the Family Planning Law of 1973 is outdated and cannot be applied today. The Act states that women in the age group of 26 years and above are eligible for family planning “Those days men and women got married early and they had many children at that age. But now they start life at 30 years,” he said.

“The government has got to intervene and ban the procedure before it is too late. There is a conspiracy, our Sinhala population is declining,” Gnanasara Thera added.

He claimed that in the Tamil populated areas, the doctors inform the women and men of the repercussions of the surgical procedures and do not advocate it till they are over 40 years.

Government has to intervene

Pointing a finger at the NGO Marie Stope International, he said that funding for the birth control procedures are done by them. In addition he says that illegal abortions are also being carried out by the institution. “They have a sinister aim behind it,” he said.

However, the Family Health Bureau and the Family Health associations who are in collaboration with Marie Stope International and help it perform the sterilization procedures say that it is totally wrong to say that the mothers and fathers are pushed into this. “It is a misconception. It is purely voluntary and only if they opt for the procedure the surgery is done,” Family Health Chief Dr. Deepthi Perera said.

“Now even we are trying to revise the age limit for this procedure. We are thinking of raising the age limit to 35 and above,” she said.

However, critics argue that the ban will only put older women at risk and drive them to illegal abortion. It is reasoned out that with the ban the older women who have teenage or adult children and would like to have an LRT procedure would be deprived. They maintain that women with grown up children would like to have a permanent method of contraception.

In such instances when and if they get pregnant they would not like to get help from the family planning units and would be pushed to other resources. Most often than not they will seek the help of illegal abortion clinics that would charge them exorbitantly and even put their lives in danger.

It is also argued that abortion parlours which would mushroom and quacks and half baked doctors would perform abortions on mothers most often using makeshift theatres and often not following sterilization methods that could turn aseptic and put the mothers at risk or even kill them.

The Family Health Association (FPA), also a family planning organization has shelved all its scheduled LRT procedures until further notice.

“It is banned, we cannot challenge the government’s decision … the repercussions would be unplanned pregnancies,” said a doctor at the FPA who wished to be anonymous.

“We use to do around 30 procedures once a month and now everything has to be cancelled,” the doctor said.

The Human Rights Commission welcomed the move and said that it is the right to life. Its Chairman Prathiba Mahanamahewa said according to the Human Rights Declaration of 1948 and the Political Rights Convention, everybody has a right to life.

“It is an individual right and this is another issue,” he said.

The Colombo Archbishop’s House also expressed its pleasure for the move to ban the birth control methods. “We believe that birth control and abortions are sinful and we welcome the move,” Fr. Benedict Joseph of the Archbishop’s House told Ceylon Today.

“The ban opens up for birth and it is in keeping with the teaching of the church,” he said.

LRT

LRT is a simple procedure done under local anaesthesia and is performed in a theatre for 20 to 30 minutes. The patient goes home the same day. The procedure will not have any effect on the menstrual cycle of the women.

Vasectomy

Male sterilization or vasectomy is a minor surgery taking only 10 to 15 minutes, also done under local anaesthesia. Post surgery there will be no effect on the sexuality or quality or quantity of the ejaculatory fluid of the person.
COURTESY:CEYLON TODAY

#India- Pre-exam helpline for students-011-65978181.


STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu, Feb 15, 2013

The Board exams come around every year and so do a host of issues like lack of concentration, loss of appetite, permanent headache, restlessness, lack of confidence and, in many cases, extreme depression.

A pre-exam helpline to help students deal with all these exam-related issues, “Disha”, operated by trained counsellors and mental health professionals, opened earlier this month. It is accessible to students daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. up to March 2 on 011-65978181. Students in distress will be helped through telephonic and face-to-face counselling.

The helpline has been reaching out to students in times of distress since 1999.

The organisation receives distress calls from Delhi, the National Capital Region and many other parts of the country from students of Class X, XI and XII — and sometimes even Class IV students and scholars preparing for competitive exams.

While many of the calls from students, parents and teachers relate to mental imbalances, many calls are also from students who want specific information about the exams.

Disha also says that the stress from the Board exams is mostly because it is so important for the academic future of every child.

Moreover, the system hardly provides any leverage to the student for exploring his likes or dislikes which only increases stress levels . Parents and teachers are also affected. Many students find pre-exam holidays more stressful since the pressure starts to build during this time.

Disha is an effort by Snehi, a non-government organisation, which works for the mental health needs of the community. It has been helping people in mental distress through counselling and other specific programmes for prevention of mental illness, with focus on children and young people. Disha’s counselling services are confidential and free of cost.

 

 

#Gujarat- Even police don’t have sexual complaint panel’ #womenrights #Vaw


By Ramaninder K Bhatia, The Times of India, 20 February 2013

VADODARA: Despite the recent focus on exploitation of women in Indian society, home and workplaces, many offices of Gujarat government, including police force and labour department and also the Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) have not bothered to implement the Supreme Court (SC) guidelines on establishing committees to deal with complaints of sexual harassment.

Stating this, Vadodara-based trade union Jyoti Karamchari Mandal has issued notices to the state DGP, labour commissioner and VMC commissioner, asking them to do the needful at the earliest. A copy of the notice has also been sent to commissioner, Vadodara Police.

“The 15-year-old Vishakha committee guidelines clearly state that a complaint redressal mechanism concerning all sexual harassment cases, should exist in all government, private organizations, but our inquiries have revealed that most of the government offices are not even aware of this aspect, forget about implementing it. We are systematically approaching government offices in Gujarat in the next few days before taking legal recourse,” said Rohit Prajapati, general secretary of the mandal and an RTI activist.

VMC commissioner, Ashwini Kumar said that a panel does exist in the corporation, but he would further inquire whether it is functioning according to the SC guidelines. “A senior class I woman officer heads the committee as per the rule,” he added. DCP (admin) Prabhat Patel of Vadodara police said he would have to enquire whether any such panel existed in the force, here. “However, I do know that there has been no such complaint of sexual harassment within the force in Vadodara,” he asserted.

Prajapati said VMC had not advertised about the existence of the panel by putting notices in the main office or outside the offices of senior officials, including the mayor. “These panels have to have 50% women members and a member from an outside agency or NGO. The police force do not have any such committee at all.”

Earlier, several women NGOs had held a meeting with 20 government offices under the aegis of district collector, only to find out that except for the pollution control board, no other department had such a panel. Though, action was promised within 10 days, only the education department has so far bothered to set up the committee, NGO Sahiyar’s Trupti Shah stated.

The MS University (MSU), too, is yet to set up a committee as per the SC guidelines.

___________________________________________________________________

Apply Now- India Youth Fund #mustshare


 

What is the India Youth Fund Window? The India Youth Fund Window is a joint program between UN-Habitat and Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation to support urban youth in India with the aim of advancing the achievement of youth empowerment, the Millennium Development Goals, and the Habitat Agenda. The India Youth Fund Window is a specific funding mechanism under the UN-Habitat Urban Youth Fund for Indian youth financed by the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation.

 

Who can apply for grant? Youth-led groups based in India where majority (50% and above) of the management and board are aged between 15 and 32 years may apply for the India Youth Fund Window. The youth group has to be registered for at least one year before the application deadline (15th April). Projects must be implemented within an urban area as defined by the Census of India.

 

How do I know whether the place I am planning to do my project is a city or town? For the India Youth Fund Window, an urban area is defined as:

  • All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee etc.

All other places which satisfy the following criteria:

  • Minimum population of 5000;
  • At least 75% of male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and
  • A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq km (1000 per sq mile).

 

You may also want to use Google or other search engines to check the population of your city or town. The information may also be available with your local administration.

 

What are eligible organizations? Organizations must have been legally registered for at least one year. They must be non-profit, non-government (NGOs or CBOs) and youth-led. They must have a valid bank account. They must involve girls and young women at all levels of decision-making.

 

What is an NGO? A Non-governmental Organization (NGO) is a legally constituted organization that operates independently from any government. The term is usually applied only to organizations that pursue some wider social aim.

 

What is a CBO? Community organizations (sometimes known as community-based organizations) are civil society non-profits that operate within a single local community. Like other nonprofits they are often run on a voluntary basis and are self-funding.

 

What organizations are not eligible? Organizations that carry out religious evangelization and organizations affiliated with political parties are not eligible. Organizations where the majority of staff and board members are not aged between 15-32 years are not eligible.

 

What projects are supported? Youth-led Development involves young people actively creating a better future for themselves and their communities, usually based at the grassroots level and are largely carried out by youth volunteers. Initiatives address a broad range of community needs such as health, employment, access to affordable housing, secure land tenure, safer cities and participation in decision-making. The objective of the project is also to develop valuable skills of management, teamwork etc among young people and boost their ability to acquire jobs and participate actively in society.

 

Is it compulsory for my organization to involve girls and young women? Yes! The Urban Youth Fund aims for gender equality and applicant organizations should therefore engage both female and male youth equally in the implementation of the project and among the beneficiaries. Organizations that do not involve girls and young women are not eligible.

 

What is the amount of the grants? Youth-led projects may receive grants of up to INR 8 Lacs.

 

How much does it cost to apply? Nothing! The India Youth Fund Window will not require you to pay any fee during the entire process of your application.

 

Can I apply for more than one project? No! Organizations can submit only one application for each annual deadline. Organizations may however, apply for the Fund the following year if not successful. Organizations that apply for more than one project will be disqualified.

 

When and where will the results be announced? The results will be announced on the Urban Youth Fund website: www.unhabitat.org/youthfund and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation website:www.nsfoundation.co.in on before 15th October (within six months of the application deadline). Successful applicants will be individually notified by e-mail.

 

How do I apply for a Fund grant? The application form is available online at http://unhabitatyouthfund.org. To access it, you have to first register on the front page, and then download the application guidelines and application form.

 

 

An appeal to friends and comrades to save the life of a revolutionary #mustshare


TUESDAY, 12 FEBRUARY 2013

Friends and comrades,

Com. Shalini is fighting a battle of life and death with metastatic cancer. We are trying our very best to make the most advanced treatments available to her. Currently, she is undergoing treatment at Dharmshila Cancer Hospital and Research Center, Delhi. We are also receiving consultations from specialists at Tata Memorial Cancer Institute, Hinduja Hospital, Leelavati Hospital (Mumbai) as well as from Ireland and the US. Apart from that, we are also trying alternative therapies.Com. Shalini joined the Left revolutionary movement at a very young age. Since 1995 her life was fully devoted to the tasks of the revolution. During this period, she was active on the student front as well as the women and cultural fronts. She has been a strong pillar of all our projects (Janchetna, Rahul Foundation, Parikalpna, Anurag Trust) involving publication and distribution of progressive literature. She is the President of Janchetna society, an Executive Committee member of Rahul Foundation, the Director of Parikalpana and one of the Trustees of Anurag Trust. Her revolutionary life of 18 years has been an example of a militant, uncompromising revolutionary life full of sacrifices and based on unflinching dedication to her principles. We are committed to protect this valuable life.

However, we need the help of all our friends, comrades and progressive, democratic, leftist intellectuals and sensitive civilians. The treatment of this type of cancer is highly expensive in India. Hence, we are making an urgent appeal to save the life of a revolutionary.

A clarification is required here: we will not take any help for this purpose from the government, capitalist enterprises, foreign funded NGOs or political parties. Any contribution from an unknown source will also not be acceptable. This is our principle and Com. Shalini’s strong wish. We only seek the help of those comrades and well-wishers, who despite minor or major political differences believe in our revolutionary integrity and honesty. Com. Shalini has also urged that she would not accept any type of financial assistance from her family members as she has broken all relations with her family years ago after the destructive anti-revolutionary activities of her father. We shall undoubtedly respect her sentiments. We are hopeful of the support of comrades, friends and well-wishers from all over the country to save the life of a young revolutionary. Friends willing to extend a helping hand may contact us here:

Phone:  9910462009 /  8853093555; E-mail: satyamvarma@gmail.com;
For correspondence: Satyam, Flat No.: 250, MIG, Sector-28, Rohini, Delhi-110085

After you contact us, we will immediately intimate you the necessary details for sending cheque/draft/money order or doing an account transfer.

My Last Wish

(A Revolutionary’s Will)

 
  – Shalini

Communists fight every battle with all their might.
I know – metastatic cancer is a deadly disease
So I am fighting it with all my willpower.
I want to live my life to the fullest and I do believe
That my will to live will defeat even death
And even if it does not happen
I will prove in any case that
True revolutionaries neither give up in the face of hard times
Nor surrender before death like a coward.I believe in my determination and combativeness
And I know that I have to win this battle and
Return to the front, to hold which till my last breath
Is a commitment made to my soul.
So, there is every possibility that this last wish of mine,
This ideological testament of mine
Might become meaningless tomorrow,
But even after fighting valiantly till the last breath,
Like a true communist,
If I have to fall,
I want to leave this letter of my last wish
For my comrades and friends.

I know I have to defeat cancer.
I have the love and pain of my comrades with me.
I have to get back to rejoin the ongoing war against capital
On my front, for the sake of coming generations.
But if this is not going to be possible,
My comrades will ensure that
My body is untouched by the dirty hands of those
Who threw dirt on our red flag
Who vilified and slandered against our experiments
Built through hard work and sacrifices of numerous comrades,
Who defamed ‘Janchetna’ and our publications
By saying these are profit-churning enterprises, even though they know the truth.
The vermin must not be allowed to come near my body
Who indulged in the filthiest mudslinging against us and tried their best to spread
Poisonous fumes of suspicion and distrust among communist ranks
To cover up their own degeneration.
These deserters who fled to hide in their dens in the hard times
Shamelessly talk of principles.
Some are degenerate opportunists who still run political shops
To satisfy their egos and make a living.
This abominable gang has even used death and disease of comrades
As a political weapon to target us.
Even my filthy rich father is a part of this gang
Who blinded by his class arrogance and vested interests
Has tried everything possible to damage our work,
He has his own class commitments
And he will never change.
Comrades! You all must ensure
These people must never come close
To my body even after I am gone,
This is my last wish.

Comrades! I am not a daughter of working people.
I was born in a family of
Usurers, traders, landlords, parasitic moneybags.
As I gradually imbibed the spirit of communism,
I tried to think of myself as a daughter of working class,
And tried to work like a labourer on the revolutionary front.
I don’t know how much I have been able to pay back the people’s debt,
How much sins of my ancestors I have been able to wash away –
This will be judged by the coming generations.
I can only assure that
I have never thought of going back home,
I was never attracted by the idea of settling in a cosy nest,
And back away from the storms.
Like a normal communist
I too have had natural human weaknesses,
And even some class weaknesses inherited from my background.
I do not claim that I was never touched by pessimism,
Or I never had any grievance with my comrades,
But I can assure that I have always got satisfaction and happiness
In my efforts to become a better communist,
I love my comrades more than anything in the world
And trust them wholeheartedly
And I still love life with all my heart
And I want to live as much as I can.

That’s why, I believe that victory will be mine
The cancer is bound to be decimated against my communist resolve
In this fight against death.
But I am ready like a true communist
To face every adversity
And that’s why I am writing down my heartiest wish
That if I lose out in the battle of life
My body must be wrapped in our cherished red flag
And then it must be donated to a government hospital or medical institute
For the purpose of scientific research or to donate organs to poor and needy patients.
I will legally assign the responsibility for this to two of my comrades.
If this is not possible for any reason
My body should be taken to an electric crematorium
On the shoulders of my comrades
And my last rites must be performed without any religious rituals
With raised fists and the International being played.
It must also be ensured
That none of the degenerate renegades must be allowed to join
They must not be allowed to come near my body.
I know, those who say even today
That I have been “brainwashed” (which is the biggest abuse for me),
Will not refrain from using my death for their dirty politics,
Thus, it is necessary
That I write down my wish in clear terms.

Comrades! I do not await death
But to get back to my work.
Cancer can be defeated by
Positive attitude and firm resolve
And all possible treatments are going on.
But still if I am unable to return to my front,
There is nothing to worry,
I will remain present in your thoughts and determinations.
I know, you will turn grief into strength
To make up for my loss.
You can turn one into a hundred.
We have to save the children! Save the dreams!!
We have to wake up forgotten ideas,
And explore new thoughts!
We have to recruit new soldiers
And make the people realise once again
That they are the makers of history.
I may or may not be with you,
But this fight will go on, till victory comes.
The caravan will keep on going, until it reaches our destination.

— 31/1/2013
PLease chekc her blog-http://shaliniatjanchetna-en.blogspot.in/

An Appeal to ALL MEN to Join the #1billionrising Campaign


Members of Forum to Engage Men (FEM) are shocked and upset over the never ending stream of reports of violence against women in our society. While the secondary status of women in a male-centric world has been an issue of concern, the extent of brutality and sexual violence that is increasingly becoming evident makes it extremely important that all sections of society, especially men, stand up, resist and react against all such violence acts. Satish Kumar Singh Convenor of FEM and Deputy Director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice says “When I see or hear any incident of violence against women, I feel hurt and vulnerable because of my inability to stop the incident. Today there are various studies that show that nearly one in every three women will be beaten, harassed or raped in her lifetime. This is a very large number. Although not all men are perpetrators, most if not all men remain silent and do not speak out against this violence. We believe that all the men who are not speaking out against Violence Against Women (VAW) end up as contributors to this violence by silent endorsement. There is a serious need to challenge our role as the silent spectator. All men have to speak out and oppose VAW. It is the biggest crime and human rights violation on earth and the responsibility of ending VAW cannot be put on women’s shoulders alone.”

The One Billion Rising (OBR) movement is a collection of global voices, rising on 14th February, 2013 to stand up against all the atrocities against women. This call resonates with the stance of FEM that deep seated gender inequalities and patriarchal notions of masculinity allow these atrocities to happen and go unchallenged. FEM believes that men also have to take a leading role to eliminate such practices.

Anand Pawar, executive director of SAMYAK an NGO in Pune, is taking a lead to mobilise men across the state of Maharashtra to stand up and be counted on the occasion of the One Billion Rising campaign. He says, “While working with men is becoming one of the key approaches in the development sector, many of these initiatives are not necessarily informed with feminist perspectives and practice. These remain technical and their analysis of patriarchy is superficial. OBR provides an opportunity for men to participate in a campaign lead by women’s groups and understand feminist perspectives in organising protests against violence against women. It is very important that men across the world stand in support of OBR.”

Members of FEM have been working to stop Violence Against Women in different parts of the country. Notably in UP, FEM members of MASVAW (Men’s Action for Stopping Violence Against Women) have been protesting against VAW along with women’s groups over the last decade. On 14th February, members of FEM in different parts of the country, will be rising on the occasion of OBR to make ourselves be counted in the struggle for gender equality. We call upon all men and boys who want such atrocities to end to join us.

For more information contact: Dr. Abhijit Das (9871713314)

Satish Kumar Singh (9910589201) Phillip Perl (9818562923)

FEM : Forum To Engage Men and Boys for Gender Equality

(www.femindia.net)

Secretariat : CHSJ, Basement of Young Women’s Hostel No2, Avenue 21, G Block, Saket, New Delhi 1100117. Ph.:011-26511425, 26535203

Needless hysterectomies on poor women rampant across India: Study #Vaw #womenrights


Malathy Iyer, TNN Feb 10, 2013, 01.12AM IST
(Oxfam said that unnecessary…)

MUMBAI: Is India witnessing a spurt in unnecessary hysterectomies? Data released by international charity organization Oxfam on February 6 says as much. The agency said that unnecessary hysterectomies were being performed in Indian private hospitals to economically exploit poor women as well as government-run insurance schemes.

A right to information ( RTI) request filed by one of Oxfam’s local NGOs in the Dausa district of Rajasthan showed that 258 of 285 women—65%—investigated over six months had undergone hysterectomies. Many of these women were under 30, with the youngest being 18 years old.

An editorial in the British Medical Journal quoted Oxfam’s global spokesperson Araddhya Mehtta as saying that the “trend is seen all over India but is particularly disturbing in Rajasthan, Bihar and Chattisgarh where doctors simply abuse their power of being a doctor”. In 2010, the Andhra Pradesh government tweaked its state-sponsored insurance scheme to disallow hysterectomies in private hospitals after surveys revealed that uteruses of a number of beneficiaries were removed merely to claim higher insurance amounts (the state insurance scheme is only available for the economically poor sections).

Dr Duru Shah, former president of FOGSI (Federation of Obstetric and Gynaecological Societies of India), said that modern medicines could fix 95% of woman’s menstrual problems without the need for surgery.

However, experts fear the trend of unnecessary hysterectomies possibly exists in urban centres such as Mumbai as well.

Indeed, an audit performed by insurance companies in Chennai in 2009 had shown that more than 500 women in the 25-35 age group had undergone hysterectomies. A Central government study in the wake of the Andhra Pradesh scam had said that women under 45 rarely needed hysterectomy.

A 2011 research paper in medical journal Reproductive Health Matters, conducted by SEWA Health Cooperative doctors in Ahmedabad, showed that insured women—both in urban and rural areas—had higher rates of hysterectomy. “Among insured women, 9.8% of rural women and 5.3% of urban women had had a hysterectomy, compared to 7.2% and 4.0%, respectively, of uninsured women,” said the study.

The OXFAM report, in fact, says that India should end its public-private partnership programmes (that allow poor women with government insurance plan to undergo a hysterectomy in private hospitals) until better regulation is in place.

Oxfam official Mehtta has been quoted as saying, “When women came with abdomen pain, doctors prescribed hysterectomy to women from poor economic backgrounds, telling them that it might be a cancer or a hole or a stone in the uterus without doing any thorough necessary investigations.”
Dr Duru Shah said that unnecessary hysterectomies affected the concerned woman’s health. “A young woman who has undergone hysterectomy may suffer early menopause (stoppage of periods) and the accompanying health problems of increased risk of cardiac diseases and fractures due to brittle bones,” she said.

Dr Rekha Daver who heads the gynaecology of J J Hospital, Byculla, said, “Generally speaking, there may be a marginal increase over the years. But this may only be because women from rural areas who travel to referral centres in cities don’t want to prolong their suffering.” She said it wasn’t feasible for these women to return to cities a second time for any treatment that may be required.

Incidentally, Maharashtra doesn’t allow hysterectomies in private hospitals under the insurance scheme launched last year for the economically weaker sections, called the Rajiv GandhiJeevandayee Arogya Scheme. “We have learnt from the Andhra Pradesh experience,” said Dr K Venkatesam, CEO of the arogya scheme.

However, not all agree that hysterectomies are on the rise. Gynecologist Dr Rakesh Sinha from Mumbai said, “It would be wrong to say there is an epidemic of hysterectomies in Mumbai or India. What has changed over the past few years is that we have facilities such as USG to make early and accurate diagnosis. Moreover, there are procedures available that allow women to go home within a day or two.”

 

#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

LUBNA KABLY TIMES INSIGHT GROUP

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.”
STILL THE SECOND SEX HERE
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)
THE TIMING’S THE THING
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.
BETTER HALF PLANNING
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

 

 

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