Women-Led Development and Public Policy for Promotion of Gender Equality

Session Report
Rehmat Arora

Introduction:

Professor Vibhuti Patel delivered a comprehensive and enlightening presentation on Women-Led Development and Public Policy during the eighth day of the Fundamentals of Public Policy course organized by IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi. The session aimed to explore the critical role of women in driving development agendas and the importance of gender-responsive policies in achieving gender equality. Throughout the presentation, Professor Patel provided an in-depth analysis of various aspects related to women’s empowerment, social protection, political participation, and economic inclusion, offering valuable insights for policymakers, stakeholders, and practitioners in the field of public policy.

Empowerment through Education and Employment:

Professor Patel commenced her presentation by underscoring the transformative power of education and employment in empowering women and fostering gender equality. She highlighted the need for educational policies that are flexible and accessible, enabling women from diverse socio-economic backgrounds to pursue higher education and vocational training. By providing women with access to professional courses and skill-building programs, such policies contribute significantly to greater economic independence, social inclusion, and empowerment.

Public Policy for Social Protection:

The session delved into the role of public policy in providing social protection to vulnerable groups, with a particular focus on women. Professor Patel discussed the implementation of key schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), which played a crucial role in providing livelihood opportunities for women during the pandemic-induced economic crisis. She emphasized the proactive measures taken to strengthen rural livelihoods and reduce urban migration through the creation of durable assets and skill-building initiatives targeted at women, thereby promoting sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM):

A significant portion of the discussion revolved around the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) and its impact on women’s empowerment in rural and tribal areas. Professor Patel highlighted how the NRLM promotes self-employment and entrepreneurship among women, leading to collective action for sustainable development. She underscored the instrumental role of women-elected representatives in judiciously utilizing resources and addressing community needs effectively, thereby contributing to the overall socio-economic development of rural communities and empowering marginalized groups.

Gender-Responsive Labor Codes:

The speaker shed light on the importance of gender-responsive labour codes in ensuring gender equality in the workforce. Professor Patel emphasized the need to integrate women’s concerns into labour laws to address issues such as maternity benefits and sexual harassment at the workplace effectively. She highlighted the role of gender-sensitive policies in creating an inclusive work environment and ensuring equal opportunities for women in the labour market, thus promoting women’s economic empowerment and labour force participation.

Women’s Political Participation:

The session explored the evolution of women’s political participation in India, from the introduction of reservations in local governance to the push for greater representation in legislative bodies. Professor Patel discussed the challenges faced by women in electoral politics and the significance of implementing reservation quotas to amplify women’s voices in decision-making processes. She underscored the transformative role of women-elected representatives in addressing community needs and promoting gender-sensitive governance at the grassroots level, thereby contributing to democratic governance and social inclusion.

Gender-Responsive Budgeting:

Professor Patel elucidated the concept of gender-responsive budgeting as a crucial tool for promoting gender equality and social justice. She emphasized the importance of allocating funds for women-centric schemes and ensuring gender mainstreaming across all development programs. The session highlighted the transformative impact of economic policies, such as waiving stamp duty on property transfers to women’s names, in challenging gender norms and promoting women’s economic empowerment, thus contributing to poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Conclusion:

In conclusion, Professor Vibhuti Patel’s presentation provided valuable insights into the intersection of women-led development and public policy for the promotion of gender equality. The session underscored the importance of inclusive policies, proactive interventions, and collective action in achieving sustainable development outcomes. It served as a call to action for policymakers, stakeholders, and civil society to prioritize gender-responsive approaches in policy formulation and implementation to create a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable society for all.

Acknowledgement: This article was published by Riya Pawar, a Research Intern at IMPRI.

Read more event reports:

Contribution of Women’s Rights Movement in Addressing Gender Based Violence