The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave approval for setting up of the Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendra (PMMSK), which is expected to be a one-stop convergence support service for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition. The move, aimed at bringing gender empowerment under focus ahead of the 2019 elections, will ostensibly help the BJP to justify its promise of Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.
The government plans to reach the 115 most backward districts in the country with 920 Mahila Shakti Kendra, said an official statement. Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had first announced setting up of such kendras at 14 lakh anganwadi centres during his budget speech and allocated Rs 500 crore for the scheme.
“It will aim to improve declining child sex ratio, ensure survival and protection of the girl child, ensuring her education and empowering her to fulfil her potential. It will provide an interface for rural women to approach the government for getting their entitlements and for empowering them through training and capacity building,” said Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
At the national level, the Mahila Shakti Kendra will provide domain-based knowledge support while at the state level, it will cater to the State Resource Centre for Women that will provide technical support to the respective government on issues related to women, the district and block level centres, and will provide support to the PMMSK and also give a foothold to Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao in 640 districts, stated a statement released by the government.
The government plans to involve student volunteers who, officials said, will serve as “agents of change”. The activities of student volunteers will be monitored through a web-based system and they will provide with certificates for community service, stated a statement released by the government. The Niti Aayog will also be involved in digitally monitoring the scheme.
The financial outlay during 2017-18 to 2019-20 will be Rs 3,636.85 crore with a central share of nearly Rs 3,084.96 crore, Prasad said. The Cabinet also gave its approval for expansion of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao after its successful implementation in 161 districts. It also gave the nod to other schemes of the Ministry of Women and Child Development under the umbrella scheme, the Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women, for a period 2017-18 to 2019-20, Prasad said while informing about the Cabinet’s decisions.
In order to push Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, the government plans to push media campaign and advocacy in 640 districts and focus on low CSR districts in the first year. In order to provide support to working women 190 more working women’s hostels to accommodate approximately 19,000 additional working women will be set up. Additional Swadhar Grahs have been approved to provide relief and rehabilitation of approximately 26,000 beneficiaries, the statement read.
For women affected by violence, the government aims to set up One-Stop Centres in 150 additional districts. These centres will be linked with women’s helpline and provide 24-hour emergency and non-emergency response to women affected by violence.