Press Briefing by the Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Women and Child Development SMT. Krishna Tirath on the Conference of state Ministers and State Secretaries in-charge of Women & Child Development on 16-17 June 2010 at Vigyan Bhawan New Delhi

The Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) of Women and Child Development reviewed the Integrated Child Development Services ICDS with the State Ministers and State Secretaries urging them to effectively universalize the ICDS through immediate operationalisation of all Projects and Anganwadi Centres. They were also advised to ensure that all eligible beneficiaries are covered by improving the quality of service delivery.

The States/UTs have been specifically advised to ensure that no additional charge is given to CDPOs, Supervisors and AWWs so that the functionaries remain dedicated and motivated in discharging the functions under ICDS.  Stability of tenure of ICDS functionaries, promotional avenues and welfare measures for AWWs and AWHs also need to be assured so that the outcomes under ICDS improve. In particular, she stressed on the need to ensure that the AWWs and AWHs are not involved in non-ICDS related activities.

Following the revision in the Nutritional and Feeding Norms under ICDS, the States were required to comply with the Supreme Court directions of 22.4.2009 in CWP No.196/2001 Vs. GOI & others.   The States were also asked to ensure that all three forms of Supplementary Nutritional Programme SNP are provided as per norms, uninterruptedly while concurrently taking steps to check pilferage, wastage, and spoilage.  They have also been requested to consider introducing innovations like adopting normative approach to provide SNP based on average daily attendance.

Another concern expressed by the Union Minister was non-availability of PSE kits and weighing scales at AWCs which was bound to affect the service delivery under the ICDS.  She also emphasized the need for appropriate infrastructure for AWCs advising the States to undertake construction of Buildings for Anganwadi centers by tapping funds available under various schemes such as BRGF, RIDF, NREGA, Panchayati Raj, and MPLADS etc.

Apart from convergence with other Ministries for the purposes of augmenting infrastructure, the Minister also focused on convergence with National Rural Health Mission NRHM and other services which are symbiotic to ICDS services such as Total Sanitation Campaign and Drinking Water Supply and other Rural Development Programmes.

Deliberations were also held on restructuring of ICDS, in the context of redesigning ICDS objectives, services and outcomes. The concept of implementing ICDS in a flexible mode was also discussed where the States/UTs are required to submit different models and institutional arrangement for delivery of services.  To improve and monitor the results, the concept of preparing State and District PIP by major States for nutrition and early learning were also suggested.

Malnutrition is one of the biggest challenges facing our country today. Under-nutrition affects survival, development, health, productivity, economic growth and ultimately the national development. The States were urged to constitute State Nutrition Council chaired by Chief Ministers, setting up of Inter-departmental coordination committees headed by Chief Secretaries, establishment of District Coordination Committee under District Collectors and establish State IYCF Committees for implementing the IMS Act and IYCF promotion. A Multi-Sectoral State/UT and District Nutrition Action Plans particularly focusing on `high risk’ and vulnerable districts were also required to be developed by States/UTs at district and project levels with specific interventions in High Burden Districts and stringent surveillance and monitoring.  The States were also advised to focus on key interventions with multi-sectoral programmes.

The new Scheme Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for empowerment of Adolescent Girls `SABLA’ for adolescent girls in the age group of 11 – 18 years which is likely to be launched shortly was also discussed ascertaining the state of preparedness of the States/UTs for its implementation. This discussion was specially in the context of the number of AWCs which were equipped with adequate space and infrastructure, water and sanitation facilities, the mode and manner of Supplementary Nutrition proposed for AGs and days and timings for which AGs should come to the AWC under SABLA. The implementation of SABLA from AWCs was also discussed to which the States responded positively stating that no major problems are envisaged in implementation of SABLA.

Status of Implementation of Integrated Child Protection Scheme ICPS was also discussed during the Conference. The Ministry of Women and Child Development introduced the Centrally Sponsored ICPS in 2009-10 with the aim of improving the well being of children in difficult circumstances, as well as reducing vulnerabilities of children to situations and actions that lead to abuse, neglect, exploitation, abandonment and separation of children from their families. Services under the scheme focus on various kinds of homes, non-institutional care (adoption, foster care and sponsorship), open shelters for children in need in urban and semi-urban areas, emergency outreach services through ‘Childline’ helpline and establishing a Child tracking system, including a website for missing children.

To access funds for Scheme implementation, States/UTs need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with GOI. 20 States have signed MOUs upto April 2010 and 14 States have accessed funds to implement the Scheme in the last financial year, amounting to Rs.33.31 Crores. These are Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, Kerala, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tripura, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Gujarat, Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, Bihar, Mizoram and Sikkim.

Smt. Krishna Tirath, MOS(IC), WCD urged the remaining States/UTs to agree to implement ICPS by signing of MOUs.  The other States were asked to expedite preparation of State Implementation Plans for ICPS; registering all Child care Institutions under the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, to curb malpractices, keep a watch on the progress of children in such institutions and plan their betterment by offering non-institutional care.

Besides, States were also urged to register existing Licensed Adoption Placement Agencies (LAPAs) as Specialised Adoption Agencies (SAA) with the State Adoption Resource Agency (SARA) established under ICPS, to ensure effective monitoring and thereby prevent trafficking, abuse and mistreatment of children and delays in placement. Those States which have already signed MOUs to implement ICPS, enthusiastically shared information about structures set up under the scheme, assessment of need in the State vis a vis the Scheme and their priorities for the rest of the year. Challenges related to establishing needed structures, hiring and skills of existing child protection personnel, preparation of proposals, training needs were also discussed threadbare and assistance sought for the same.   Targets for provision of additional services and structures and upgradation of existing services were discussed and finalized for implementation during the meeting. The implementation of ICPS by the State Government in earnest would result in securing a safe environment for children in difficult circumstances and reduce the vulnerability of other through availability of adequate quality service in Homes, Shelter, Adoption and other Non-institutional care.

Rajiv Gandhi National Crèche Scheme (RGNCS) was the focus of discussion in the session on Day care system for Children of working Mothers. Globalisation and large scale migration on one hand and sustained emphasis on the education and empowerment of women by the on the other, has resulted in increased opportunities for employment of women both, within and outside the home. There has also been resultantly, an increase in nuclear families. As per Census 2001, 36% households are joint, supplemented nuclear or broken extended families and 52% households are nuclear or single parent households. Thus there is an increased need for day care services for the care and protection of children of working mothers.   Whereas legislation makes provision of day care mandatory in the organised sector, the unorganised Sector is largely unserviced. RGNCS, a Central sector scheme, was launched in 1.1.2006, to cater to children of women working in the unorganised sector. The Scheme is being implemented by the Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB), its state arm the State Social Welfare Board (SSWB) and a mother NGO, namely Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW).

The Scheme provides supplementary nutrition, emergency health care and pre-school education for eight hours in a day, to children of working mothers, in the age group of 0-6 years with a monthly family income of less than  Rs. 12,000/-. Monitoring is done internally by the mother NGO/CSWB or through 18 external monitoring agencies appointed for such purpose.

A sample evaluation of existing crèches brought out that quality of services being provided in these crèches need to be improved which could be possible with active involvement of the State Governments and UT Administrations.  The states/UTs were, therefore, urged to support the implementation by involving the District and local level functionaries at various stages of scheme implementation.

GOI informed that the implementing agencies have been asked to take the assistance of State and District level administration to assess the demand for crèches, identify possible locations, ascertain the credibility of NGOs and be a part of the monitoring teams.  States were further requested to address the problem of inadequate infrastructure by allocating space for the crèches. Strategies for addressing overlap with other services like those provided by anganwadis and ensuring better coverage of urban areas were also discussed.

National Mission for Empowerment of Women was discussed in the Conference.  The Government has launched the Mission on 8th March 2010 and is in the process of setting up the Mission structures and support services.  As an umbrella Mission under which women-centric and pro-women schemes and programmes of participating Central Government Ministries and Departments of   and the State Governments would be monitored for convergent implementation, the State Governments/UT Administrations would play an important role in the goal of socio-economic empowerment of women as they are responsible for implementation of social sector schemes/programmes in their respective States/UTs.  The Conference sensitized the Ministers and the Secretaries w.r.t. the activities under the Mission and the role that is envisaged fort the States/UTs.  They were also urged to set up the Mission structures at the State/UT level as early as possible so that the activities of the Mission get a fillip in their respective State/UT.  The States/UTs were enthusiastic about this new initiative and were unanimous about their wholehearted support to the Mission activities in their respective State/UT so that socio-economic empowerment of women becomes a reality.

The issues relating to effective implementation of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 were also discussed with State Governments/UTs Administration.  The need for effective implementation of the Act so as to ensure that every women facing domestic violence has access to remedies provided for emphasized.  For this, the States were requested to appoint full time Protection Officers in every district, register service providers and notify shelter homes and medical facilities on priority basis.  The States were advised to use the existing Swadhar and Short Stay Homes and also to assess need for additional facilities.  To enable  victims to have access to services provided under the Act the names and contact details of the Protection Officers should be  displayed prominently particularly in Police Stations  and  should also be made available with police control rooms.

The Government is concerned about the incidence of dowry and dowry related crimes.  Since the system of dowry is deeply entrenched in society, the States/UTs were requested to take concerted action entailing not only proper enforcement of the Dowry Prohibition Act 1961 but also measures for bringing about a social change. To improve enforcement of the Act, the States were requested to undertake the appointment of Dowry Prohibition Officers and of Advisory Boards on a priority basis.  Emphasis was laid on the need to organize Awareness Campaigns targeting schools and college students enlisting the support of civil society for bringing about a change in social attitudes and mindsets.

The implementation of the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006 was also discussed during the Conference  it was pointed out that  while the Census and NHFS data show high levels of prevalence of child marriages in the country especially among the girls,  the National Crime Records Bureau statistics reveal that very few cases are being booked  under the  statutory provis9ions and the number of arrests , prosecutions and  convictions are  negligible States/UTs, particularly the eight States  where more than 50% of women are  reportedly married before the age of 18 years  were urged to play a far more  proactive role  in  the implementation of the statutory provisions, appoint  Child Marriage Prohibition Officers, notify Rules under the Prohibition of Child Marriage Act 2006, and  also take up awareness  generation and advocacy activities on a much larger scale so as to achieve progressive  elimination of this social evil.  The State Governments/UT Administrations were also requested to draw up definitive action plans to tackle this problem and intimate a time frame for elimination of this practice.

YSK/PM

(Release ID :62607)

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