The Union Women and Child Development Ministry has sent a proposed policy to the Cabinet, recommending a slew of welfare measures. The recommendations include providing free education to girls below the poverty line, Aadhaar linked health cards, a 10-fold increase in the number of working women’s hostels and larger facilities for homeless widows.

The draft also suggested that the government should provide easier ways to end matrimonial disputes.

The policy incorporated suggestions made by a group of ministers, which includes Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj.

The policy for women was last revised in 2001, and the government wants to take a relook at it, given the various technological, social and economic changes that have taken place since then. The policy document also suggests that woman convicts who have served a third of their jail time for non-heinous crimes be released.

Sushma Swaraj had suggested that men should be encouraged to pick up culinary skills, and should be encouraged to study home science. However, this suggestion of hers was not included in the draft policy.

An excerpt from a draft of the policy released last year reads:

“Significant strides in global technology and information systems have placed the Indian economy on a trajectory of higher growth, impacting the general populace and women in particular, in unique and different ways. These changes have brought forth fresh opportunities and possibilities for women’s empowerment, while at the same time presenting new and emerging challenges, which, along with persisting socio-economic problems, continue to hinder gender equality and holistic empowerment of women. ”

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