EMPOWER PEOPLE Blog
By Prof.Vibhuti Patel
Mumbai has an outstanding record of establishing Women Development Corporation, way back in 1975. The region has illuminating record of active participation of women in the local self government bodies. In 2011, after the Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies- Village Councils (Panchayat Samitis), District Councils (Zilla Parishads), municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State; MMR region has experienced crucial role of women in the public life. (MRA, 2011). The trend of sending less number of women to Maharashtra Assembly continued in the latest election also with 11 women getting elected to the 288-member House. In 2004, 12 women of the 157 who contested were elected to the House. In 1999, 86 women contested and 12 won. Only five per cent of the 211 women candidates in fray were elected in the assembly election. Major political parties had fielded only 11 per cent women candidates. (Mahila Rajsatta Andolan, 2010).
Gender equity has been a prominent aspect of equity concerns in public policy. The gender dimension has led to widespread advocacy and focused attention on equity in other than economic areas, such as education, health, decision-making, violence against women and political participation. The human development approach offers a capability-based approach to gender equity in development that is a departure from traditions focused on income and growth. Gender concerns have given the approach the power and flexibility to encompass aspects of inequality that would otherwise go unremarked. Its sensitivity to gender in turn has made it sensitive to a range of potential inequities and unfreedoms that can affect all people. The fact that progress in equal rights for women has come about largely through the efforts of social reform movement in the 19th century and women’s liberation movement in the 20th century Maharashtra has highlighted the essential role of collective agency in human progress. Moreover, given the constraints on women’s agency in almost all societies by political institutions such as male-dominated political parties, social institutions such as the family, and social norms such as women’s responsibilities for care work, these issues and their underlying causes clearly must be tackled head on. This background paper of the Human Development Report of Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority aims to do the same within the framework of right based perspective.
Mumbai has an outstanding record of establishing Women Development Corporation, way back in 1975. The region has illuminating record of active participation of women in the local self government bodies. In 2011, after the Maharashtra Assembly unanimously approved 50 per cent reservation for women in local bodies- Village Councils (Panchayat Samitis), District Councils (Zilla Parishads), municipal councils and municipal corporations in the State; MMR region has experienced crucial role of women in the public life. (MRA, 2011). The trend of sending less number of women to Maharashtra Assembly continued in the latest election also with 11 women getting elected to the 288-member House. In 2004, 12 women of the 157 who contested were elected to the House. In 1999, 86 women contested and 12 won. Only five per cent of the 211 women candidates in fray were elected in the assembly election. Major political parties had fielded only 11 per cent women candidates. (Mahila Rajsatta Andolan, 2010). As compared to many Indian states visibility of women in statistics, indicators, corridors of economic power structures and decision-making bodies is higher in MMR. Women achievers of all sections of society are publicly felicitated by the government on every 3rd January (Savitribai Phule’s birthday) and 8th March (International women’s Day) by both BMC as well as GoM. Media coverage on women’s issues in MMR in both English and regional languages has improved a lot in last decade. Women Development Cells with twin objectives of ensuring safety of women at workplace and gender sensitization have been established in most of the public offices and establishments in MMR. Public interest advertisements for changing the mindset on gender issues are promoted by different department of MMR administration as a part of its gender friendly initiatives.
At the same time, unbridled forces of hedonism and consumerism have taken heavy toll of women in terms of increasing crimes against women: pre-birth elimination of girls, abandonment of live or murdered newly born baby girls, child sexual abuse, gang rape, forcible abduction of girls, trafficking of girls and women, dowry murders, domestic violence and murderous attacks on elderly women. (NCRB, 2011)
Demographic and Health Profile of Women in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR):
Table: 1 Overall Sex Ratio (Number of women per 1000 men) of MMR
s Table 1 shows, during last 110years, only Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg are found to have favourable sex ratios due to male out-migration to cities of Maharashtra and women headed households are managing subsistence agriculture. In rest of the districts there has been continuously declining sex ratio. The lowest sex ratio has been in Mumbai due to very high level of male in-migration. As per 2011 Census, overall sex ratios of Mumbai, Thane and Raigadh were 838, 880 and 955 respectively.
In 2009, Mumbai saw 1, 75,298 births, out of which 91,355 were males and 83,943 females. While the general trend of child birth over the past nine years wavered from a marginal 0.5% to a maximum of 2.5%, 2001 saw the maximum fall of 8%, followed by 2009 which saw a slump of 4%. The good news is that even though the population of women in 2009 (compared to 2000) has declined, there is a marked improvement in the sex ratio in the city. The total number of male children declined at 14.76% in the last ten years, while the number of female children declined by 13.02%. This in turn has resulted in an improvement in the ratio of girls from 900 per 1,000 boys in 2000 to 918 in 2009. There is a trend showing that parents in the city prefer to have a single child. The reason behind this could be the changing lifestyle, or the fact that it is getting expensive to afford a high quality of life and education for children. Mumbai has shown some improvement in the child sex ratio in the last few years, but it is not so significant because it is still much below the ideal ratio of 940 females per 1,000 males in the country.
Child Sex Ratio (CSR) in MMR as Per 2011 Census
The child sex ratio, which indicates the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys, has fallen from 916 in rural Maharashtra to 880-a drop of 36 points. In contrast, the child sex ratio in urban Maharashtra has dipped from 908 to 888 in the last decade. Rural Maharashtra seems to love the girl child even less than the state's urban areas. In the most shocking blow to the girl child so far, the newly released provisional Census 2011 data shows that fewer girls are born in rural areas than in urban. The child sex ratio of both urban and rural areas fell over the last decade. CSR in MMR has decreased at a rate of 3.29% during the last decade. Mumbai has only 874 girls per 1000 boys (0-6 years). In Mumbai Suburb child sex ratios 910 as shown in Table 3. Only in Thane rural CSR is above 940. Even in Navi Mumbai CSR is deplorable low.
Chart 2 (A)
Source: Census of India, Maharashtra, 2011.
Child Sex Ratios in the Urban Centres
For 2011, the child sex ratio stood at 874 girls for each 1,000 boys for the Mumbai City district census. That has gone down significantly from 922 according to the 2001 census. The city district extends from Colaba in the south to Mahim and Sion in the north. In the Mumbai Suburban district, which runs from Bandra to Borivali, Kurla to Mulund, and Kurla to Trombay, the 2011 ratio stood at 910, down from 923 a decade ago. Accessibility and affordability are two key things in sex selection and Mumbai has both. The increase in sex selection through ultrasound has been manifold. Recent raids of dozens of diagnostics centers in several suburbs of Mumbai have exposed several clinics for flouting rules, including not placing a board outside the clinic clearly stating that sex determination is illegal under the law; failing to register machines with state supervisory authorities as required under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act; and not maintaining records of the diagnoses done on women. Several doctors were caught red handed charging 30000 to 1 lakh rupees from the decoy pregnant women (Patel, 2011).
Strict implementation of Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Test is demand of the day.
Missing Girls in Rural MMR
According to statistics released by the State Health Systems Resource Center, Thane district had the highest child sex ratio (962) in 2009; it reduced to 933 in 2001 and got further deteriorated to 918. Even in Raigad, the CSR reduced from 943 in 2001 to 924 in 2011.
The GOM has admitted that a rise in sex determination tests and sex-selective abortions had been the cause of sharp decline in sex ratio and is determined to crackdown on all malpractice to improve the situation. Sonography machine operators are under a strict scanner. The campaign to “Save the Girl Child” has been launched as a joint effort of the health and administrative officials. A plan of action by the Public Health Department of Municipal corporation in MMR is chalked out in collaboration with voluntary organizations. Recent raids of diagnostic centers by the Implementation of Pre Natal and Pre conception diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act committee have revealed large scale sex determination tests leading to selective abortion of female fetuses in Mumbai and Thane. In Raigad district, there is a need for widespread vigilance and awareness (Patel, 2011).
From Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1988 to (PCPNDT) Act, 2002:
Maharashtra was the first state to enact the Pre Natal Diagnostics Techniques Act in 1988 to stop discriminatory abortions of female fetuses. The easy accessibility and availability of reproductive technologies are threatening the very existence of the girls and a stricter monitoring and regulation of Ultra sound clinics is required. Since this responsibility is vested with the Health Department alone, it should implement the PCPNDT Act in its true spirit. While the NGOs may work on the social, cultural issues the responsibility of monitoring and regulating is totally vested with the government. The Public Health Department of MMR needs to
o Reconstitute the Supervisory Board as well as the Advisory Boards as per the Pre Conception and Pre Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act (2002) with representation of committed social activists and civil society representatives.
o Conduct Social Audit of documents received from Sonography clinics between 2005-2012.
o Make available online, all data of Ultra Sonography (USG) machines sold by companies.
o Institute a special fast track court for PCPNDT Act, 2002 cases at MMR level.
o Appoint a special prosecutor at the State level.
o Initiate legal action against clinics for any violation of PCPNDT Act, 2002.
Authorities of MMR must join Government of Maharashtra in strengthening stringent action against the erring clinics and for implement the PCPNDT Act, 2002 in letter and spirit. MMR authorities should publicize Amachi Mulgi website and Helpline-18002334475.launched by GOM on 8th March 2012 to save the girl child.
Affirmative action of the state for not only social protection but also incentivising the girls has become need of an hour. Existing schemes for promoting birth of girls must be critically examined and reformulated in such a way that they are universal and are not linked to any kind of stipulations. There is a need for an Action Plan aimed at creating more educational opportunities for girls / women at middle, secondary and higher education levels in MMR. Under Adarsh Gaon Yogana of Maharashtra State, felicitate areas in MMR who have been able to have a balanced child sex ratio.
MMR needs to continue legacy of 19th century social reform movement in Maharashtra that fought against evils of female infanticide, child marriages, plight of widows and strived for better quality of life for women, education and enhanced status of women in society. MMR needs a campaign to change the mindset of people and tell them that “Eliminate Inequality, not Women”, “Destroy Dowry & Dehumanisation, not Daughters”, “Say ‘No’ to Sex-determination, Say ‘Yes’ to Empowerment of Women, Say ‘No’ to Sex Discrimination, Say ‘Yes’ to Gender Justice”, “Daughters are not for slaughter”, “Stop Femicide, Promote Equity.” “Girls are the equals of boys, all they need is opportunity”, “Sex Selection is a Crime against Humanity.”, “Respect bodily integrity of women.”, “Women are not son-producing machines.”
Prof. Vibhuti Patel is professor & head of the University Department of Economics and Director, Department of Post Graduate Studies and Research of SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai and holds a Doctorate in Economics. She is Trustee of Anusandhan Trust, Mumbai.
Contact her by Email, Facebook