Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Nirbhaya Fund: A flickering ray of Hope

By Shreya Gupta - Intern (Centre for Social Research)
Amidst huge uproar over women’s rights and safety issues within the country, the government on Thursday i.e. 28 Feb released its annual budget with a number of measures focussing solely on women. Projected as an all inclusive budget, it has endeavoured to meet the rising demands and need for upliftment of the usually marginalised and unaddressed groups. The government has proposed to set up an all exclusive women’s bank. This bank will cater to women customers and will lend money to support women self help groups and women- owned businesses. It will mostly employ women and initiated with a capital of Rs 1000 crore. In addition the budget also allocated a sum of Rs 500 crore for programs to combat sexual discrimination especially at workplace. Further, in wake of the recent rape incidents the government has also proposed to set up a special fund of Rs 1000 crore known as the Nirbhaya Fund. This fund has been set up for the empowerment and safety of women. The scope, structure and utilization would be decided by the Ministry of Women and Child and other concerned ministries.

Focussing on the Nirbhaya fund, a potentially loaded move has been made by the government irrespective of the political implications and motivations of the same. The big question is whether 1000 crore enough or is just a symbolic gesture? However the onus of its success now depends on the Ministry of Women and Child on how it plans to utilize this sum. A sincere and innovative effort can go a long way in improving the situation of women within the country.

Admitted it cannot magically transform the country into a safe haven for women but can be an important step towards making it one. I believe the ministry should take a fresh stand by taking into account views and suggestions of the people and experts similar to the setting up of the Justice Verma Committee. Further, I believe that a multi-tier approach should be adopted. The fund should be made open for donation and made a regular feature. The fund can be utilized in dealing both with post incident issues and taking preventative measures. Proper medical attention, provision of shelter homes and counselling are some of the essential requirements of a victim of abuse. Rehabilitation of the victim plays a pivotal role in bringing one back to any semblance of a normal life. Another aspect where this fund can be utilised in dealing with victims is provision of legal aid and facility. Specialised government advocates can be recruited to deal with crimes against women. Also this fund could be utilized in strengthening the women and children department of the police.

To deal with the preventative aspect numerous awareness campaigns can be launched which focus on both gender sensitization and dissemination of legal recourse available. A basic knowledge of legal provisions is a must for every citizen. Another approach that can help empower women is vocational trainings. Providing women with skills to become self reliant infuses a sense of confidence which will facilitate them in helping themselves.

We can all brainstorm and come up with ideas but what is important is how the government deals with it. So let’s wait and watch. Hope we receive a reason to rejoice!!


  1. I stand for respect of women....

  2. The government attempts to win over the distrust of people regarding its welfare policies, having reneged on its promise of the Lokpal and shot water cannons at the public at large in December.

    Let us now look into the so called token of gesture for the women, a woman bank. The author of the article has brought about a very positive shade into an otherwise plan of the government. While I fully agree with the propositions of the author, and believe that the only way the people are to benefit would be the multi pronged strategy as suggested.

    I suggest that due to the limited capital of the bank it would be limited in both its reach and the help it would provide to women. A better approach would have been to assign some national banks to set aside branches dealing with women. It would provide the necessary reach. The old banks with the previous experiences would better cater to the needs of women. It is in rural areas where this needs to be done.

    Hoping the government actually works in the direction of women empowerment than producing such superficial schemes.