National Commission for Women (NCW) was established under the National Commission for Women Act, of 1990. It was established to ensure a fair and equal standard of living for women in India via judicial and constitutional changes. Read here to learn more about the NCW.
The role of women in the development of the country has been well-established over the centuries.
The need to ensure the welfare of women aroused due to the inequality, and atrocities faced by women over the years. The National Commission for women is an apex body with the mandate to ensure the same in the country.
National Commission for Women (NCW)
The National Commission for Women was set up as a statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act to:
- review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women
- recommend remedial legislative measures
- facilitate redressal of grievances and
- advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
In keeping with its mandate, the Commission initiated various steps to improve the status of women and worked for their economic empowerment during the year under report.
- The Commission completed its visits to all the States/UTs except Lakshadweep and prepared Gender Profiles to assess the status of women and their empowerment.
- It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programs, Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats, and reviewed laws such as Dowry Prohibition Act 1961, PNDT Act 1994, Indian Penal Code 1860, and the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to make them more stringent and effective.
- It organized workshops/consultations, constituted expert committees on the economic empowerment of women, conducted workshops/seminars for gender awareness, and took up publicity campaigns against female foeticide, violence against women, etc. to generate awareness in society against these social evils.
A brief history of National Commission Women
The Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI), 1971 recommended the setting up of a National Commission for women to fulfill the surveillance functions to facilitate the redressal of grievances and to accelerate the socio-economic development of women.
- The Ministry of Education and Social Welfare, Government of India also appointed the Committee on the Status of Women in India (CSWI) to study the status of women in India.
- The Ministry was acting on a UN request for a status of women’s report for International Women’s Year in 1975.
Successive Committees/Commissions/Plans including the National Perspective Plan for Women (1988-2000) recommended the constitution of an apex body for women.
In 1990, the central government held consultations with NGOs, social workers, and experts, regarding the structure, functions, powers, etc. of the Commission proposed to be set up.
- In May 1990, the Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha.
- In July 1990, the HRD Ministry organized a National Level Conference to elicit suggestions regarding the Bill.
- In August 1990 the government moved several amendments and introduced new provisions to vest the commission with the power of a civil court.
- The Bill was passed and received the assent of the President on 30th August 1990.
The First Commission was constituted on 31st January 1992 with Mrs. Jayanti Patnaik as the Chairperson.
- To strive towards enabling women to achieve equality.
- To facilitate equal participation in all spheres of life by securing her due rights and entitlements through suitable policy formulation, legislative measures, effective enforcement of laws, and implementation of schemes/policies.
- Devising strategies for solutions to specific problems/situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women.
The Indian Woman, secure in her home and outside, is fully empowered to access all her rights and entitlements, with the opportunity to contribute equally in all walks of life.
Constitution of the National Commission for Women
The Central Government shall constitute a body to be known as the National Commission for Women to exercise the powers conferred on and to perform the functions assigned to, it under this Act.
The Commission shall consist of:
- A Chairperson, committed to the cause of women, to be nominated by the Central Government.
- Five Members to be nominated by the Central Government from amongst persons of ability, integrity, and standing who have had experience in law or legislation, trade unionism, management of an industry potential of women, women’s voluntary organizations (including women activists), administration, economic development, health, education or social welfare;
- Provided that at least one Member each shall be from amongst persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes respectively;
- A Member-Secretary to be nominated by the Central Government who shall be:
- an expert in the field of management, organizational structure or sociological movement, or
- an officer who is a member of a civil service of the Union or an all-India service or holds a civil post under the Union with appropriate experience
Mandate/functions of the National Commission for Women
The commission shall perform all or any of the following functions, namely:
- Investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws,
- Review from time to time, the existing provisions of the Constitution and other laws affecting women and recommend amendments thereto to suggest remedial legislative measures to meet any lacunae, inadequacies, or shortcomings in such legislations.
- Take up cases of violation of the provisions of the Constitution and other laws relating to women with the appropriate authorities
- Look into complaints and take suo moto notice of matters relating to:
- deprivation of women’s rights,
- non-implementation of laws enacted to protect women and also to achieve the objective of equality and development,
- non-compliance with policy decisions, guidelines, or instructions aimed at mitigating hardships and ensuring the welfare and providing relief to women, and taking up the issues arising out of such matters with appropriate authorities,
- Call for special studies or investigations into specific problems or situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women and identify the constraints to recommend strategies for their removal.
- Undertake promotional and educational research to suggest ways of ensuring due representation of women in all spheres and identify factors responsible for impeding their advancements, such as lack of access to housing and basic services, inadequate support services, and technologies for reducing drudgery and occupational health hazards and for increasing their productivity.
- Inspect or cause to inspect a jail, remand home, women’s institution, or other places of custody where women are kept as prisoners or otherwise and take up with the concerned authorities for remedial action if found necessary.
- Any other matter which may be referred to it by Central Government.
Government efforts for the protection and welfare of women
Fundamental rights: It guarantees all Indians the right to equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State based on gender (Article 15(1)), and special provisions to be made by the State in favor of women (Article 15(3)).
Fundamental duties: It ensures that practices derogatory to the dignity of women are prohibited under Article 51 (A).
Acts and schemes
- Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
- The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961
- The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition, and Redressal) Act, 2013 (POSH Act)
- The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO), 2012
- Mission Shakti
- Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme
- One Stop Centre Scheme
- UJJAWALA: Scheme for Prevention of trafficking and Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-integration of Victims of Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation
- SWADHAR Greh (A Scheme for Women in Difficult Circumstances)
- NARI SHAKTI PURASKAR
- Mahila police Volunteers
- Mahila Shakti Kendras (MSK)
- NIRBHAYA fund: The Government of India had set up a dedicated fund called the ‘Nirbhaya Fund’ for the implementation of initiatives aimed at enhancing the safety and security of women in the country.
News about NCW
National Commission for Women (NCW) issues advisories to ensure the safety of women in educational institutions.
Chief Secretaries of all the States and UTs are advised to direct all coaching institutes/educational institutions to:
- Ensure strict implementation of the ‘Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013’ (PoSH Act).
- Conduct awareness programs for better reporting of cases.
- Conduct a background check on those responsible for running coaching centers.
The National Commission for Women’s scope needs to be expanded in light of the nation’s changing demands for women.
The Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign has shown the link between the ability of women with the development of the country.
The NCW reported in 2021 that there had been a 46% increase in complaints of crimes against women in the first eight months of that year compared to the same time the year before.
Domestic abuse, dowry harassment, sexual harassment at work, attempted rape, and cybercrimes are just a few of the crimes that affect women.
All this calls for a holistic effort from each leg of the legal and executive side to come together to achieve equality, development, and peace as well as to the fulfillment of women’s and girls’ human rights.
-Article written by Swathi Satish