India facing huge challenges in gender justice: UN Women
Washington: India is facing "very very big" challenges in gender justice, a top UN Women official has said, adding that the government has "prioritised" women's issues in its policies and programmes but there is need for greater momentum.
Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary-general of the United Nations and deputy executive director of UN Women, called for setting up special courts for hearing cases of violence against women, and providing gender responsive training to police. She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has prioritised women issues in his policies and programmes.
"He (Modi) has prioritised it (gender equality and gender issues) in every programme, every mission that he has launched. He has put gender equality in the middle of that. Jan Dhan Yojana is a very big win for women. In Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, he is highlighting more gender related issues. Similarly, Skills India, Digital India..." she said.
Considered a guiding force in driving the women related agenda of the UN, Puri said, "We would of course like to see greater momentum in regard to some of these initiatives going forward."
Puri, who was acting head of UN Women from March to August 2013, noted that the challenges being faced by India in the arena of women equality and gender justice are "very very big".
In addition to addressing the challenges being faced by women in cities, she underscored the need for safety of women in rural areas in India.
"Rural women face different types of violence and the more disadvantaged amongst them, marginalised amongst them, the poorest face different types of violence. So that needs to be addressed. The number, the scale, the scope of the challenges are so big that sometimes the impact cannot be seen immediately, she said.
Despite India making considerable progress in the last 70 years, the country is still
facing the challenge of patriarchal social and cultural norms that hold back women,