No nation can achieve a sustained, high and equitable growth without the development of its human resources. Women and children form nearly two –thirds of our population. Despite constitutional provisions, legislation, policies and schemes being in place, women achieving gender equality and all children being nurtured with due care and protection still remain a distant reality. Issues of malnutrition, illiteracy, health, sanitation, gender inequalities, bias against the girl child, lack of access to opportunities and increasing rate of crime are some of the basic issues which are of deep concern till now. The development of women and children is in the interest of the entire nation. In order to develop an effective women and child development strategy, it is necessary that women and children should be viewed as major potential contributors to the country’s growth. Their empowerment and development is essential for the nation’s socio-economic and political development.
Recognizing the need for women and child development, the Department of Women and hild Development (WCD) was set up in 1985 and was later upgraded into the Ministry of WCD in 2006. The Ministry ensures women’s empowerment as well as gender equality to the extent possible and children’s holistic development and growth by emphasizing on various welfare and development related policies. It also aspires to ensure safety and security to women at the workplace by ending all forms of discrimination, exploitation, harassment and violence by strictly implementing the relevant laws. By increasing their participation economically and socially and benefiting them with welfare schemes, women’s status and dignity would be ensured in parity with men. Similarly, it aspires to ensure zero tolerance to all kinds of exploitation of children including labour, sexual abuse and violence by providing legal and institutional support. The Ministry runs many programmes and most of them are run through non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). One of the special programmes launched for children by this Ministry is ‘Integrated Child Development Services’. ICDS provides a package of services comprising supplementary nutrition, immunization, health check up, pre-school education to children under 6 years of age and their mothers. Primary education has been made mandatory for all children. The girl child has been given great importance through special programmes and the Ministry has also launched women empowerment schemes like ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme’, ‘Women Helpline Scheme’, ‘One Stop Centre Scheme’ , ‘Rooh- Women Welfare’ etc. Women and children are the key to global security and prosperity. The government is keen to ensure a future where all women are empowered and all children receive a happy, secure life free from fear of violence, abuse, hunger and deprivation. The challenges ahead are immense but the future is bright.