by Samantha Ritchie Women in Nepal. Video Still. ©Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank SB-NP02   Finance Minister P. Chidambaram unveiled new plans to promote gender equality in India. The minister announced that there will be a women’s safety fund, a …

Samantha Ritchie

by Samantha Ritchie

Women in Nepal. Video Still. ©Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank SB-NP02

 

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram unveiled new plans to promote gender equality in India. The minister announced that there will be a women’s safety fund, a publicly owned women-only bank and an increase of nine per cent in spending for gender. The government used this budget speech to address the widespread protests which took place in India over late December 2012/January 2013.

In December 2012, a young woman was raped on a bus in Delhi. This brutal attack sparked many women and men to protest in solidarity the violence many women go through on a daily basis – see video below. The National Crime Bureau released statistics which highlighted that there is one rape every 20 minutes in India. Women also face other forms of violence such as honours killings, domestic abuse and trafficking. However subsequently, after the attack a senior police chief KP Raghuvanshi stated that women should carry “chilli power” to deter attackers.

The plans that have been announced have been welcomed in India by citizens striving for change in the country. The fund which has been set up to help women’s safety will be named “Nirbhaya” – a Hindi name meaning “fearless” which was given to the December gang rape victim who reportedly fought her six attackers on a moving Delhi bus. The initial investment, by the Government is 10 billion rupees (approx. $185 million). This is a big step forward for the Indian Government in tackling gender equality within Indian society.

Moreover, the finance minister has also pledged to set up a women-only bank. The bank is set up to to lend women and women-run business and supports self help groups that employs women and addresses gender related aspects of empowerment.

However, these gender equality measures have received some criticism. Business columnist Shaili Chopra stated on Twitter aren’t we doing perfectly fine going to a bank where men also bank?”
For many domestic violence victims money is a huge barrier when they are trying to leave their partner. Giving women the opportunity and chance to grow and open their own business, continue in Higher education and receiving access to women support services is a massive step forward in empowering the women of India.

You can’t change inequality over night and there are still deep rooted issues within the Indian society. But, this is a step forward in the right direction and we should show solidarity to our brothers and sisters in India for gender equality.

 


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Samantha Ritchie