Women in India can now look forward to a slew of measures (soon to be introduced by the Government of India) which will be focused on their betterment. A group of ministers headed by External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj has reportedly proposed to frame a national policy for women aiming to elevate the status of women in the country.
Important tenets of the policy:
1. Lowering income tax for single women.
2. Introducing Aadhaar-linked health cards for free basic health checkups.
3. Cashless medical facilities for pregnant women.
4. Tax exemption for menstrual hygiene products.
5. Building more public toilets for women.
6. Free medical and legal support to survivors of gender-based violence.
7. Government assisted living facilities for elderly women.
8. Increasing women in the workforce by 50 per cent by 2030.
9. A complete registration fee waiver for girls appearing in competitive or entrance exams conducted by government agencies.
10. Free coaching and more hostels in cities and towns for working women.
11. Promoting the role of women in senior leadership positions and international levels as mediators, ambassadors and negotiators.
12. Providing Kisan credit cards with lower interest rates for women.
13. 100% coverage for women and girls under the PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana and Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan.
SheThePeople.TV spoke to some women to know their take on these policies proposed by the government.
Sushila, who works as a domestic help in North Delhi, is particularly happy with the decision to construct more public toilets for women.
“Lack of hygienic in public toilets causes a lot of problems to us. The people we work for, do not allow us to use their washroom. We used to face a lot of inconveniences. I hope the situation will improve now.”
Rashi Goel, from Delhi who is pursuing her Masters in Economics, is of the view that real change will come only when menstruation will not be looked down upon as a taboo. She says,
“I think the primary reason for a large chunk of the targeted population to not use these products is not the pricing, but the lack of awareness and availability of such products. Since menstruation till date is such a big taboo, it isn’t talked about much (especially in rural areas) hence girls and women are unaware of the hygiene regime that should ideally be followed during a period. This is the reason why such products aren’t available at local shops within a village or even if it were available, the ladies wouldn’t muster up the courage to go up to the shopkeeper and ask for it.”
Sabhyata Jain, a student of English Hons. at Delhi University, says that a lot of young girls will heave a sigh of relief if the taxes on sanitary pads are waved off.
“Those taxes were an unnecessary burden on us. And why should we be taxed on something so natural?” she asked.
Well, it is good that the government seems to have finally woken up to the fact that our country can succeed only if the other half of the population gets its due.