Dr. Avnish Jolly, Chandigarh, 24th September, 2008: “350 million people in India , sleep everyday without food; a majority of them are women.” This was stated by Prof Pam Rajput at a Special Lecture organized by the Centre for Women’s Studies and Development, Panjab University on the eve of the mid-term assessment of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations, Speaking on the theme,
‘Women in Public Policy in India, Professor Rajput, the Founder Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies declared that women have, by and large, remained invisible in policy making. There are three kinds of policies, she clarified. First, are those policies, wherein women are treated as of no concern. These policies are gender –neutral and gender blind, such as the macroeconomic policies in the era of globalization. For example in the Special Economic Zones, the women workers get a token, even to go to the washroom and if they go for more than a specific number of times in a day, their salary is cut. Second were the women specific policies such as the National Perspective Plan for Women and the National Policy on Empowerment of Women and third were those policies wherein women have a specific concern, such as those in the health and education sector. However, laxity in implementation has resulted in increased vulnerability of women. Gender inequality, she emphatically concluded, results in unbearably high economic costs for the entire nation.
Earlier, welcoming the guests, Prof Meera Malik, Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies, informed the house that the Centre has embarked on a journey wherein it hopes to rope together all sections of the population in building a gender just society. As a first step in this direction, the Centre has started a seres of lectures in Women’s Studies in which eminent persons, both male and female from various walks of life would be invited to present their views before the faculty and students of the university. This lecture, by Prof Rajput, was the first in this series. Following the lecture, the jampacked hall vibrated with an intense discussion on various issues relating to public policy in India according to Prof Meera Malik, Director of the Centre for Women’s Studies, PU.