Maneka Gandhi puts focus on growth of women

The Asian Age.  | Sashidhar Adivi

Life, More Features

Despite being the bahu of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Maneka shared how difficult life was during the early days of her ministry.

Maneka Gandhi, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development

Maneka Gandhi, the Union Minister for Women and Child Development addressed the huge turnout on the topic ‘A Paradigm Shift: Super Woman to Super Power’ at a FICCI FLO Chapter’s meeting recently. From candid answers to humour, the 61-year-old politico’s speech kept the audience engaged.

Despite being the bahu of former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Maneka shared how difficult life was during the early days of her ministry. “Initially, I worked from an office of the Coal Ministry. Slowly, brick by brick we started working and eventually created an identity for ourselves,” she recalled, adding, “One girl from Bengaluru wrote to me explaining that she ran away in fear and embarrassment when she found that a male gynaecologist was to treat her. I immediately called up the hospital authorities and got that rectified.”

Maneka highlighted the various schemes initiated by her government including Sakshi centres, 33 per cent women personnel at police stations, 26 weeks of maternity leave, installing panic buttons in cars, Mahila e-Haat, etc.

About one of her most challenging assignments, she shared, “Narendra Modi came to me and asked me to implement the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme. I was shocked! I was clueless about how to proceed. After much brainstorming, we started the idea at a micro level, before extending it to 100 districts.”

To a questions asked about marital rape, the she said, “We can take action only after a complaint is filed, but mostly, a woman complains about marital rape only after she’s separated from her husband. This is how it is all over the world.” When another woman in the audience asked her whether the government was doing enough to curtail child abuse, Maneka replied, “We can’t be the moral police, but only remediate and take action against the culprits. You can visit our website for the kinds of measures we have taken up in this regard.”

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