Gendering of Public Policies in pre & post 1975 India: An Overview …
Gendering of Public Policies in pre & post 1975 India: An Overview
In the post independent India, in the first quarter, important documents that expressed gender awareness were Constitution of India and Five Year Plan Documents. The former guaranteed fundamental rights (Equality, voting right and five freedoms) to all Indian women irrespective of their class, caste, religious and ethnic backgrounds but also allowed differential treatment of women on the basis of their class, caste, religious and ethnic backgrounds through religion based personal laws and thousands of customary laws. Rights, the state gave with one hand were snatched by its other hand. The Planning Commission, with its faith in “trickle down theory” and perspective of viewing “women as beneficiaries of the economy” mostly came up with welfare policies for women’s upliftment. In this framework, the movement of concepts, policies, strategies was top-down, women’s agency was missing. The period soon after independence saw the earliest institutional structures for women’s advancement set up by the state. They were the Central and State Social Welfare Boards situated outside the bureaucratic structure. Although imbued with the idea of welfare perspective vis-à-vis women, the Boards did foster women’s leadership and made the state accountable to them. This was achieved, to a large extent under the vision and leadership of Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh. However, over the years, The Boards carried out only funding and programmatic functions.
In 1972, as per the UN directive, the Committee on the Status of Women was constituted to prepare an in-depth report and within two years, TOWARDS EQUALITY Report was tabled in the Parliament. It was a landmark contribution of an interdisciplinary team of academicians, researchers, bureaucrats and policy-makers who were influenced by “Women in Development “ approach popularised by Esther Boserup in her pioneering research of the African society. The report, for the first time, brought out into the open the fact that women were active producers in the house holds in the vast unorganised sectors of the economy and that their contribution had to be made visible. The declaration of 1975 as the International Women’s Year and the decade 1975-1985 as International Decade of Woman also impacted on the perspective about women.