WOMEN from marginalised communities such as domestic workers, street vendors, rag and waste pickers and home-based workers are bereft of major government schemes such as Aadhaar, Voter and Ration card as well as development and welfare schemes of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), a study has found.
Conducted by the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) in seven urban settlements of PMC and with 280 women respondents, the study shows that even in universal schemes like Aadhaar, food security and voter card, at least 33 per cent were excluded due to their inability to produce basic identity and citizenship documents. The exclusion from such basic entitlements further translates into exclusion from key welfare schemes such as pension, slum rehabilitation and free health services specifically designed for the development of marginalised women.
Authored by 24 researchers drawn from the community, the study was released Saturday by Mayor Prashant Jagtap at a city consultation held at Lahuji Vastad School in Yerawada to launch a project for enhancing the access of urban poor women to development and welfare schemes of the PMC.
The project will be implemented by the CFAR with support from the Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives (APPI) in the seven identified settlements of Yerawada and Vishrantwadi in the form of a Single Window Centre which will educate and inform community women about various schemes of the PMC and then enroll them as beneficiaries.
Reflecting on the findings, the mayor said “it is unfortunate to note that many women have not been able to access even basic schemes and entitlements. The study shows that there are some bottlenecks at the level of providers of the scheme and also at the level of the seekers of the scheme. We need to counter both these hurdles in order to better realise the actual intent of providing for the welfare and development of the marginalised. I hope and expect that this study, done by the community itself, will guide us in better planning and management of welfare schemes and programmes of Pune city”.
Kantabai Dhende, a resident of 112 B settlement in Yerawada and one of the community researchers, shared the difficulties encountered by women while accessing schemes. “Women who are destitute, single or even disabled do not possess a valid ID or residence proof. Every scheme demands that such documents need to be produced. How can they avail of the very schemes meant for them?”
Further explaining how the absence of basic citizenship documents propels exclusion from other schemes, Surekha Jahdav from Shramik Nagar said, “I do not have a BPL ration card. For accessing free health services at the public hospital, I have to produce it. Normally, I spend 15-20 per cent of my earnings every month on illness. I wonder that if I could avail of this treatment free of cost, I can use the same money on my child’s education.”
Responding to such grievances, S T Shrike, Deputy Commissioner, Women and Child Development, stated that, “The study is an extremely critical step taken by the community. It shows how governance can be improved with people’s participation. I expect that this results in a good community-government partnership effort that improvises scheme provisioning and delivery on the ground.”
Member Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority, Raosaheb Kokare, further emphasised on the need to create legal awareness among women. “Unless women get educated about their legal rights, they will not be able to demand justice for themselves. We will strive to educate these women, create a cadre of para legal team from them and see to it that the NALSA Scheme for the unorganised women gets implemented in both letter and spirit.”
The IEC posters of the scheme for the upliftment of the girl child, “Majhi Kanya Bhagyashree”, were also launched at the occasion. Speaking about the scheme, Shirke said it offers a package of benefits for marginalised women and girls which includes financial support to the tune of Rs 3,000 to the girl child for her health and education and an insurance cover of Rs 1 lakh.
“A special three-month drive for enrolling women and girls for the scheme will be started on a pilot basis in the seven settlements where the project is being implemented by CFAR,” he added.
Ganesh Sonune, Chief Community Development Officer, Community Development Department, PMC, said: “From this study, we understand that for a crucial programme like the CDD, regular feedback on the performance of the scheme given by the beneficiaries themselves is important for it will help us to better plan and execute the programme. We will use the findings to shape some collective efforts with the partnership from the community and I hope that in the days to come, we will jointly pursue the objective of making the CDD programme of Pune city a model endeavour.”