Smt. Krishna Tirath chairs Conference of State Ministers in charge of Women & Child Development

April15th 064
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EQUALITY INDIA NEWS

A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE

The Ministry of Women & Child Development organised a conference of States / UTs Ministers in-charge of the Women & Child Development department, in New Delhi today. The discussions included primarily the implementation of ICDS Scheme in the States / UTs specially in the context of the directions given by the Prime Minister’s National Council on Nutrition Challenges regarding strengthening and re-structuring of ICDS, progress and implementation of the ICPS, the newly introduced Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls (RGSEAG) – ‘SABLA’ and Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY). The agenda also included a discussion on the status of two Bills viz. the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill, 2010 and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Bill, 2011.

In her inaugural speech Smt. Krishna Tirath outlined the initiatives of the Ministry and the status of the implementation of various schemes. While speaking about ICDS, she mentioned the challenges in universalisation of ICDS, like shortfall in the operationalisation of Anganwadi Centres and Projects, filling up of vacancies and access to the vulnerable sections. She emphasised on the importance of pre-school education in the Anganwadi Centres and requested participation of States / UTs in consultations on Early Childhood Education ECE policy and curriculum. The Ministry is now considering the Annual Programme Implementation Plans for ICDS to be prepared by States / UTs which would improve their accountability and would be a precursor to bringing ICDS in a Mission Mode.

Smt. Krishna Tirath asked the States / UTs to diligently follow the norms of providing supplementary nutrition under ICDS and ensure supply without disruption. Since the food grains are provided at BPL rates, care should be taken that the requirement of food grains is projected according to the recipes given to the children. Keeping in view the NCEAR report, the feeding efficiency needs to be improved and monitoring to be strengthened for correct reporting. She emphasised on improvement of infrastructure at the Anganwadi Centres since the two new Schemes – SABLA and IGMSY, are also to be implemented from the same platform.

The WCD Minister inaugurated the Nutritional Resource Platform (NRP), based in NIPCCD by the click of a button. NRP is a strong ICT platform having digital library, knowledge management platform and mobile telephony based services like voice / SMS broadcast, inter – active voice response based data capturing for monitoring and toll free helpline. Test pilots in some of the select blocks and districts will commence in February 2011.

Smt. Krishna Tirath touched upon the two newly introduced schemes – SABLA and IGMSY which are being piloted in 200 and 52 districts respectively and emphasised the significance of undertaking Baseline Surveys for identification of beneficiaries and validation of data carefully so that only those who are eligible and deserving are included. It is also important to judge the efficacy of pilot schemes, before upsclaing them to cover the whole country.

The Union Minister exhorted the States / UTs to take advantage of ICPS and ensure a protective and caring environment for all the children so that no child is found on streets or begging or serving in a shop or factory. Talking about the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010 she shared that efforts are being made to get the Bill passed in the Parliament early. The suggestions given by the States / UTs would be incorporated in the Bill if found feasible.

In view of increasing incidence of child abuse in the country, Bill on Protection of Children from Sexual Offences has been prepared by the Ministry. It is a step towards developing child jurisprudence in the country. Smt. Krishna Tirath requested the State Governments to expedite the setting up of State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights which exists in eleven States / UTs only as of now. The Ministers of State Governments / UT Administrations highlighted the progress made by them under different Schemes and shared the best practices besides the local initiatives taken by them. They committed to operationalise the pending AWCs and Projects under the universalisation of ICDS. The Ministers and Secretaries of the States / UTs endorsed and complemented the conceptualisation of SABLA and IGMSY. They also supported the Protection of Women against Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill 2010. Among issues of concern raised were like timely release of funds under ICDS including honorarium, requirement of funds for construction of AWCs, inadequacy of funds for uniforms, rent in urban areas and vehicles (for improving mobility), revision of cost norms which were revised in 2008, waiving of population norms for the mini-AWCs and cost norms for SNP. The States / UTs felt that the cost of implementation of Acts should be borne by Central Government and that the Kishori Shakti Yojana norms under “Sabla” may be improved. Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand demanded funding of ICDS in the same pattern as is available to the North – Eastern States.

The Ministers and Secretaries assured that they are committed to the cause of the welfare of children and empowerment of women and that the ongoing as well as new Schemes of the Ministry would all be implemented in true spirit as intended.

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