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Chapter 10

Accessibility

Nari Shakti

Empowerment of Women

THE BJP believes that true human development cannot take place without the empowerment of women. It is not enough to talk about removing discrimination against women and establishing gender equality. We need to create new mechanisms for the social, political and economic advancement of women as also to generate social awareness on gender issues. One such mechanism is empowerment, including empowerment through enactment of laws. Yet another mechanism is capacity-building through education and skill acquisition. The BJP pledges itself to legal and policy level initiatives to remove discrimination against women and to ensure that their rights and dignity are not trampled upon. Special emphasis will be laid on the rights of the girl child. To harness the full potential of Nari Shakti, the BJP will:

1. Provide free education to women up to graduation, including professional studies like medicine and engineering;

2. Immediately seek the passage of the Bill reserving 33 per cent seats for women in all elected bodies, including the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies;

3. Actively promote the legal and economic rights of women which must be equal to those of men and not subject to the debilitating clauses of personal laws;

4. Entrust the Law Commission to formulate a Uniform Civil Code based on the progressive practices from all traditions.

This Code will:

a) Give women property rights;

b) Ensure women's right to adopt;

c) Guarantee women equal guardianship rights;

d) Remove discriminatory clauses in divorce laws;

e) Put an end to polygamy;

f) Make registration of all marriages mandatory.

5. Create conditions in society and workplace to ensure equal opportunities in matters of employment and promotion;

6. Enact and enforce an anti-sexual harassment code;

7. Enforce the principle of equal wages for equal work, both in the organized as well as unorganized sector;

8. Encourage the introduction of part-time and take-home job schemes for working mothers;

9. Promote a health-care system, especially in rural areas, that will focus on the non-reproductive health needs of women;

10. Provide assistance to single and working mothers and introduce a forward-looking housing policy for their benefit;

11. Work with State Governments to establish adequate number of working women's hostels and short-stay homes for destitute women;

12. Make women partners in the management of community assets and properties in rural areas;

13. Enroll the help of panchayats to set up latrines for women in rural areas;

14. Expand the scope of the existing micro-credit system through an enlarged corpus to which both the Union and State Governments, apart from banks, will make liberal contributions;

15. Encourage the setting up of cooperative societies in rural and urban areas to be managed by women for the benefit of women entrepreneurs;

16. Introduce skill-based training programmes and self-employment schemes which are area-specific and job-specific;

17. Design special functional literacy programmes for women who have been denied access to education;

18. Amend laws that deal with molestation, rape and dowry, to provide for in-camera trial, swift justice and tough deterrent punishment as well as rehabilitation of the victims of these crimes;

19. Amend the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act to make clients as culpable as commercial sex-workers;

20. Strictly enforce age of consent laws and launch a vigorous campaign against child prostitution by making it a cognizable offense;

21. Establish family courts in residential areas for speedy disposal of family dispute;

22. Mention of mother's name will be made mandatory on all official documents, starting from a child's birth certificate to a person's death certificate;

23. Set up special courts in every district for the expeditious trial of all civil and criminal cases in which women are the accused;

24. Rapidly induct more women in the police force and appoint women to senior positions as well as increase the number of "Crimes Against Women Cells" so that no police station area is left uncovered by the year 2003;

25. Enact and strictly implement a special law to deal with domestic violence against women;

26. Promote a social agenda designed to discourage negative influences and end discrimination against the girl child in any form;

27. Strictly enforce the existing laws that prohibit unethical practices like pre-natal sex-determination tests, female foeticide and infanticide;

28. Invest in the girl child's health, nutrition and education, from infancy through adolescence, by formulating appropriate programmes and incentive schemes;

29. Universalize primary and secondary education to narrow the gender gap;

30. Prevent media's projection of women in any manner that demeans them or hurts their dignity; and,

31. Set up a national-level apex women's development bank on the lines of NABARD and SIDBI. There is need for setting up a dedicated development bank to cater to the financing needs of women entrepreneurs and the vast number of self-employed women.

The BJP will provide free education to women up to graduation, including professional studies like medicine and engineering; immediately seek the passage of the Bill reserving 33 per cent seats for women in the Lok Sabha; entrust the Law Commission to formulate a Uniform Civil Code based on the progressive practices from all traditions.