Sonia seeks effective enforcement of laws for women

New Delhi, Aug 31 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi Saturday said making laws for the empowerment of women alone would not suffice unless they were effectively enforced.

"We realise just making laws and announcing policies would not be enough to empower women. Along with it, policies and laws will have to be implemented properly on ground," she said at the launch of 'Ahimsa Messenger Scheme', aimed at generating awareness amongst the people about the rights of women.

The Congress chief's call comes in the wake of spate of crimes against women across the country.

Under the scheme, volunteers would be trained to take the message of women's rights across the society.

Gandhi, who had a key role behind the campaign for awareness about women's rights, called for ending all violence against the women and for taking steps for making women feel safe, fearless, empowered and getting the respect due to them.

Describing as a "very big challenge" the fight to secure same status for women as was being enjoyed by men, she called for "social revolution" by changing the mindset and thought of the society and demolishing the wall of discrimination that perpetuates uneven treatment of women.

Gandhi said the initiative for changing the mindset of society has to come collectively from women themselves by according equal status to them in their own homes.

"We all know that the social outlook of our children is formed inside the four walls of our homes. The girl in the family should be given the same status as that of her brother in a family. Girls too have a right to get education, development and employment as that of the boy in the family," she stressed.

Gandhi said the messenger is directly related to the safety and empowerment of women.

"They will spread awareness and knowledge about for their legal rights and their economic and social growth, their safety and dignity in the society. The Ahimsa 'doots' (messengers) will be trained to empower them," she said.

A unique feature of this programme is that adolescent boys have also been made an integral part of this programme, Gandhi added.

First some women from anganwadis will be trained to become Ahimsa messengers, she added.

Speaking about the empowerment of women, Gandhi said due to 50 percent reservation for women in panchayats, lakhs of women have been able to make their voice heard.

But women are also suffering being the victim of child marriage, female foeticide, domestic violence, dowry related deaths and sexual harassment, she said.

The government has enacted various laws such as the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act,2013, Prevention of Sexual Harassment at Workplace Act, 2013 and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, she said adding the food security bill would provide nutritional security to pregnant women, lactating mothers and small children.

Nearly 30,000 girls from Delhi NCR who have benefitted under the Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls or SABLA were present at the event.

Women and Child development Minister Krishna Tirath said "women can contribute to the development of the society only when they are empowered mentally, socially and financially and through education."

She said that the Ahimsa messengers will lead to a significant change in society by making women aware about their rights and helping to change the mindset of society.

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