Terming child marriage as one of the biggest injustices in society, President Pratibha Patil on Saturday asked the state governments to implement welfare schemes which provide incentive to educate girl child.
“Child marriage is one of the biggest injustices committed against a minor and adversely affects a girl child turning her into a baby-producing machine,” Patil said here after launching the ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanya Vivah Yojana’.
Under the scheme, families with an annual income of Rs 60,000 would be given an assistance of Rs 5,000 by the Bihar government for their daughters’ marriage.
Advocating the need for effective steps to check domestic violence and discrimination against women, she said an appropriate social and legal environment should be in place and all sections of society should work in tandem towards that objective.
“Our full potential as a nation will only be realised when women, who constitute about half of our population, fully realise their potential.
“As long as that does not happen, half the talent, half the progress, half the development, would be lost as for a chariot to move forward both its wheels – men and women – would have to be equally strong,” she said.
“Women should be supported to set up their own business with the backing of self-help groups with easy availability of credit facilities. These steps will help women achieve economic independence and contribute to their empowerment,” she stressed.
Patil said the pillars of women empowerment essentially consisted of literacy, education, better health facilities and nutrition of the mother and child, political representation and financial security.
The financial security included opportunities for self-employment options, to become self-reliant, she said.
“It is often being seen that women are given jobs with lesser wages and that they are not given the same opportunity as men for advancement,” she rued.
The President was all praise for Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the ‘Mukhya Mantri Kanya Vivah Yojana’ scheme and said this would not only provide economic support for marriages of girls belonging to the poor families, but also act as a catalyst against social evils like child marriage and dowry.
It would, she said, boost the national efforts as financial assistance would be given to the beneficiaries of the scheme only when the marriage was registered.
Patil recounted that in ancient India, women philosophers like Gargi and Maitreyi were given as much respect as men and participated in discourses equally with men.
Referring to freedom movement, she said women not only plunged whole-heartedly into the freedom struggle at the call of Mahatma Gandhi when education among them was not more than 2 percent, they had also played a fruitful role in the constituent assembly and drafting of the constitution. Patil concluded her speech with a stanza from a poem stressing the yearning among women for equal opportunities.
The stanza said ‘remove obstacles from my path, remove all doubts in your mind. Understand our power to change the world, allow me to walk in step with you.”
Source: Zee News – 16 February 2008