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Women : Government Intervention

National Commission for Women

The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 ( Act No. 20 of 1990 of Govt.of India ) 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.


  • The Committee on the Status of Women in India ( CSWI ) recommended nearly two decades ago, the setting up of a National Commission for women to fulfill the surveillance functions to fecilitate redressal of grievances and to accelerate the socio-economic development of women.
  • Successive Committees / Commissions / Plans including the National Perspective Plan for Women ( 1988-2000 ) recommended the constitution of an apex body for women.
  • During 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 organised 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 accent of the President on 30th August 1990.
  • The First Commission was constituted on 31st January 1992 with Mrs. Jayanti Patnaik as the Chairperson. The Second Commission was constituted on July 1995 with Dr. (Mrs.) Mohini Giri as the Chairperson. The Third Commission has been constituted and the government has nominated Mrs. Vibha Parthasarathy as the Chairperson.
Programmes 2002

The National Commission for Women plans to take up the following issues in the year 2002 :

I. Prevention of Child Marriage
A Bal Vivah Virodh Abhiyan is proposed to be mounted at all India level with the involvement of State Commissions for Women and /or NGOs in each State on Akha Teej when mass child marriages are solemnised

II. Violence Against Women
An action plan to combat 'violence against women' would be prepared and launched. The plan would take into consideration the earlier recommendations of the Commission.

III. Family Courts
The Family Courts Act, 1984 provides that every State shall set up a Family Court 10 lac population. However, India has only 85 Family Courts. The Commission plans to focus on the issue so as to build pressure on States to set up Family Courts. A national workshop is proposed to be held in March, 2002, which would, inter alia, discuss the steps needed to be taken for improving the working of Family Courts by sharing of good practices.

IV. Gender Sensitization
The Commission had prepared course curicula for gender sensitization of : -

  • The Judiciary
  • The Police
  • The Administration
  • The Media The Commission would take steps to have the curricula operationalised in the respective training academies.
V. Decade of Women's Empowerment
Government of India had declared the year 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment. The Commission has already written to the Government to observe - 2001 - 2010 - as the Decade of Women's Empowerment. The Commission plans to carry on the empowerment agenda for the entire decade.

VI. Sex Tourism
The Commission is concerned about the indiscriminate promotion of tourism as trafficking of girls to centres of tourism is on the increase. This was Commission's feedbback in Goa, where it held a regional meeting of the South-Western States, in which the participants included the State Comimissions and NGOs of this region. The Commission has sponsored two studies on the subject both on the East and West coasts.

VII. Social Empowerment Camps
So far NCW has been sponsoring Legal Awareness Camps. It now proposes to broaden the base and instead create awareness about a spectrum of social issues and disseminate information about schemes available to women and how to access them through "Social Awareness Camps".

VIII. Use of Elected Women Power at the Grass Roots.
In its efforts to tacking the above issues, the Commission plans to move ahead with the help of elected women in Panchayati Raj and Urban Local Bodies so as to reach the women at the grass roots. Perhaps a Women Friendly year could be organised with the help of these functionaries.

IX. Honouring NGOs Breaking New Grounds.
On the International Women's Day 2001, the Commission had honoured individual women who had broken new ground and gone into areas which were hitherto considered the male bastion. In the year 2002, the Commission proposes to felicitate voluntary organizations who have done extraordinary work in new areas, on 8th March, 2002.

X. Women's Reservation Bill
33% reservation for women in Paliament has been hanging fire for the last couple of years. The Commission proposes to continue to campaign for this cause.

XI. Sexual Harassment at Work Place
The Commission has been working on the subject even before the Vishaka Judgement of the Supreme Court. presently, the NCW is in the process of drafting a Bill on Sexual Harassment at Work Place, which would be finalised and forwarded to the Government for placing before the Parliament.

XII. Strengthening Networking
The Commission plans to build upon existing networks and strengthen ties with the 18 State Commissions for Women. A monthly exchange of ideas and information is proposed, as also involvement in each others' programmes and thrust areas. A beginning has been made in a meeting held on 1st February, 2002.

XIII. Project Mangalam
A project for justice delivery for women by women at the grass root level initially launched in Pondicherry is proposed to be implemented in more regions. The effort has been launched to identify NGOs, who can take up this challenge.

XIV. Preparing the Women for Tomorrow
A pilot project for empowering young college going girls was began in the year 2000. The project has been expanded to govern working women's hostels as well. It has been launched in, more colleges in Delhi and outside Delhi successfully. It is ongoing in the Allahabad University. Requests have been received from some other States. It is proposed to continue expansion of this programme.

XV. Ensuring mental Health for Women in Custodial Institutions.
The Commission would visit and inspect institutions where mentally ill women are kept in custody.

Key Publications


  • This publication has been brought out by the Commission not only to generate awareness and to sensitise, but also as reference material to provide support to the victims and to assist the persons required to implement, be they employees, administrators, the police, the judiciary or NGOs.

    The commission hopes this would be a useful guide and will be one step forward in achieving our goal of having workplaces where women can work with dignity and without fear.

    The sum and substance of the operational part of the Vishaka judgement have been spelt out in the NCW's Code of Conduct for Work Place, which is included in this publication. The detailed judgement in the case of Vishaka v. State of Rajasthan (1997) and in the case of Apparel Export Promotion Council v. A. K. Chopra (1999) (where the Supreme Court has while reiterating the Vishaka pronouncement, expressed even stronger views) are reproduced.

  • Impact of Maintenance Laws - with special reference to Kerela state
  • The Role of Women Members in Panchayati Raj - Experience in West Bengal
  • Gender Component in various Commissions - Report by NLSU Bangalore
  • Women Prisoners in Indian Jails
  • Development of Health facilities among Scheduled Tribe Women
  • Report on National Debate on Codification of Criminal Laws pertaining to women
  • Justice Delivery through Family Courts
  • The Gender Issues and Books in India
  • Reaching Out - Proceedings of Conferences and Seminars July'96
  • The Velvet Blouse - Sexual Exploitation of Children
  • Knocking at the Male Bastion - Women in Politics
  • NCWs Rewiew of Laws - Amendments and New Bills
  • For Women to Lead - Ideas and Experiences from Asia
  • Report on Tribal Women and Employment
  • Code of Conduct on Sexual Harassment
  • Manual of Mental Health Care for women in custody
  • A Study of Mentally Disabled Women
  • Project Mangalam - Justice Delivery by Women for Women
  • Rape - A Legal Study
  • Voice of the Voiceless - Status of Muslim Women in India






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