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New policy to empower, protect girls and women in Odisha ready

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Reported by Chinmaya Dehury

Bhubaneswar, May 8 :

The Odisha government today gave the final touches to the draft report of Odisha State Policy for Girls and Women, 2014, which aims at creating an enabling environment for girls and women which promotes equal opportunities, eliminates discrimination, ensures holistic development and empowerment through changes in social attitudes, building strong institutions and enhancing capacities.

The draft report will be forwarded to the Law department for further action.

(source: indiacurrentaffairs.org)
(source: indiacurrentaffairs.org)

“We deliberated on the policy and after consultations with various departments, the draft policy has been finalized. It will be presented before the new government for its permission to adopt it as an official policy,” the state chief secretary JK Mohapatra told media persons here.

The policy would ensure girls and women in the state enjoy equal access to rights and entitlements that can enable them to lead a life of dignity.

“The holistic development and empowerment of girls and women requires action in health, education, livelihoods, asset ownership, participation in decision making, safety and security as well as attention to issues of women with special needs,” read the draft policy.

Placing importance on the security of women, the policy aims to establish One Stop Service Centres in all the districts in a phased manner to extend care and support services for a range of needs of women victims/survivors of violence.

“Put in place and train sufficient numbers of investigators, prosecutors and judges for sensitive handling of sexual offences related to girls and women. Establish a designated specialized unit in the Police Department to guide, monitor and support investigations pertaining to violence against girls and women. Fix time frames for expeditious completion of investigation and trial in matters of crime against girls and women,” the  policy draft says, while asking the government to establish specialized and designated courts for speedy trials of sexual offences.

In order to improve the education sector, the policy lays emphasis on the setting up of   Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya (KGBV)-like hostels at each block, and upgradation of existing KGBVs to secondary level by expanding capacity.

It also emphasizes on providing incentives such as free text books, uniforms, safe transport and  fee waiver at secondary and higher secondary levels to all girls. It also talks of  tracking drop out girls from schools, promoting access to education by devising flexible strategies through bridge courses, drop-in-centres, remedial coaching centres and such other mechanisms.

“Adopt a zero tolerance policy to ensure safety of girls and women in educational institutions through appropriate measures. Have adequate women staff at appropriate levels in educational institutions where girls reside in large numbers. Put in place and monitor standards of care to check and report any abuse,” said the report.

Although the overall sex ratio of the state has improved from 972 to 979, the Child Sex Ratio has declined from 953 to 941 with marked rural, urban and regional differences as per Census 2011.The Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) populations in the state on the other hand have comparatively better sex ratios (987 and 1029 respectively).