An unpublished report sanctioned by the state’s Commission for Minorities to assess the socio-economic status of Muslim women and discrimination leading to backwardness has said development schemes meant for the minority community have had little impact in uplifting Muslim women. Those who conducted the study claim that there is “no political will” to publish it. The report was completed in 2012 but was not released by the former Congress-NCP government or the current BJP-led regime.
The study had a detailed review of popular schemes and interviews of Muslim women in four ghettos — Kurla and Mumbra in Mumbai, and Waluj and Pathanwadi in Aurangabad. Data analysed under the Maulana Azad Direct Loan Scheme, which provides loans of Rs 5,000 to Rs 50,000 to the minority community, showed male beneficiaries were three times higher than female ones.
The number of male Muslim beneficiaries rose from 117 to 12,152 between 2007-08 and 2010-11 but female beneficiaries for the same period rose from 86 to only 3,889. The research titled “Socio-Economic status of Muslim Women and their access to Development schemes and Programmes in Maharashtra” was completed in 2012 by SNDT’s Research Centre for Women’s Studies.
“It was sanctioned by the minority commission for recommendations to improve the status of Muslim women. We found that government schemes were well conceptualised but poorly implemented,” said Veena Poonacha, former director of the Centre for Women’s Studies.
According to her, the report was part of the Mahmoodur Rehman Committee Report but never got published. “It is frustrating the government didn’t act upon it,” she told The Indian Express.
The report showed that business and education loans extended to minorities under the Maulana Azad Alpasankhya Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAAAVM) saw a downward trend for female Muslim beneficiaries over five years. In 2007-08, the number of women who got loans stood at 1,015 in Maharashtra which dropped to 353 in 2011-12. The total loan amount given to women under MAAAVM stood at Rs 4.6 crore for 2011-12 in contrast to Rs 19.9 crore sanctioned to 1,280 men in the same period….
The report also indicated applications by women were fewer than men. The study recommended improvement in government schemes, security and reservation for Muslim women in government jobs. “The situation has worsened from 2012 till now. This report was not even taken up for discussion in the Assembly. Muslim women face a range of issues that need to be addressed. Triple talaaq is just one of them,” said Hasina Khan who works with Bebaak Collective and is part of the three-member committee that prepared the report.
According to Parul Khanpada, another committee member, awareness about pre-matric and post-matric schemes amongst the poorer sections of Muslims is also low. The report found that while the Muslim share in population is 13.4 per cent in the state, less than 5 per cent appear for civil service exams. Muslim women entrepreneurs are few in number and even “they face grave difficulty in their home due to abject poverty”.
Another finding in the study points at poor Integrated Child Development System (ICDS) coverage at less than 8 per cent amongst Muslims as opposed to 13 per cent coverage recorded for OBCs.
The ICDS is a government scheme under the Women and Child Development department that caters to health and nutrition of children and pregnant and lactating women. Coverage of the scheme, the report observed, was poorer in Muslim ghettos compared to the general population.
Aamir Edrisy of the Association of Muslim Professionals, said for government schemes to work well for Muslims, the government needs to relax rules and provide adequate budgetary allocations. “In several schemes, the applicant is asked to undergo massive documentation. Specific schemes to promote women are necessary. Also, women do not come forward as much as men do so, stringent documentation sometimes deters them,” he said.
The socio-economic report was submitted to the state government in 2012. While the report was meant to introduce policy change in welfare schemes for Muslims, the recommendations were never implemented. Shyam Tagade, the principal secretary of the minority development department, said: “Since it’s an old report, I am not aware of it. We will have to go through it and understand why it has not been published yet.”