Centre to empower rural women, expand scheme for girl child

The Centre on Wednesday approved   a new scheme under which Pradhan Mantri Mahila Shakti Kendras' (PMMSK) will be set up to empower rural women through community participation and help them realise their "full potential."

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) also approved a proposal to expand the scope of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' programme for a "sustained nation-wide advocacy and media campaign" in 640 districts and "focused multi-sectoral" action in 405 select districts to promote girl child education.

The CCEA meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, also approved a proposal for expansion of an umbrella scheme of the Women and Child Development Ministry-'Mission for Protection and Empowerment of Women'-for the period 2017-18 to 2019-20.

The umbrells mission will be responsible for implementation of the Mahila Kendras and Beti Bachao programmes.

"The financial outlay during 2017-18 to 2019-20 will be Rs 3,636.85 crore with a Central share of approximately Rs 3,084.96 crore," the Ministry said in a statement after the meeting.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, in the Budget for 2017-18, had proposed setting up of Mahila Shakti Kendras at Anganwadi centres in villages with an allocation of Rs 500 crore. "This will provide one stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition," Jaitley had said.

The Ministry said that more than 3 lakh students from local colleges will be engaged as volunteers in 115 most backward districts under the PMMSK scheme. These students will play "an instrumental role" in awareness generation among women with regard to "various important government schemes and programmes as well as social issues."

"The outcome based activities of student volunteers will be monitored through web based system. On completion, certificates for community service, will be displayed on national portal for verification and can also be used as resource/asset by the participating students in future," the Ministry said.

For working women

Under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, all districts with low child sex ratio will be taken up in the first year of its implementation in 640 districts.

"To provide support to working women, 190 more working women's hostels will be set up to accommodate about 19,000 additional working women," the Ministry added.

A task force will be set up for planning, reviewing and monitoring these schemes at national, state and district level to ensure "convergence of action and cost efficiency," the Ministry said.

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