In order to boost the economy and create universal social security schemes for women, especially for the underprivileged and people staying in rural India. The Government of India initiated several social security schemes in the budget for 2015-16. Which aimed at reducing the economic inequalities and providing monetary assistance to the citizens of the country. These schemes have a huge impact on the masses as it gives them a sense of security. The schemes are as follows:

  • Sukanya Samriddi Yojana- This scheme is for your daughter’s education and marriage they want to convey that parents can secure and plan their daughter’s life more effectively. It provides an annualized return of 8.1%. 
  • National Pension Scheme – It fulfills the needs of retirement needs. It provides the tax benefits for investment up to Rs 50,000 under section 80CCD in addition to Rs 150000 under section 80C. 
  • Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana – This scheme caters to the needs of the economically weaker section of the society and helps them with basic banking services like a savings account, insurance, pension, etc. The minimum contribution is Rs 1000 while there is no cap on the maximum contribution.
  • Public Provident Fund – It is a long term saving scheme that benefits the self-employed people to save for their retirement. It offers tax benefits under 80 C of the Income-Tax Act and provides a tax-free return on maturity. Tax-free interest on maturity and provides an annualized return of 7.6%. 
  • National Savings Certificate – It is a small savings and tax savings investment. It is issued for 5 and 10 years and considered as a government saving bond. Provides annualized return of 7.6% and qualifies for IT Rebate under 80C
  • Atal Pension Yojana – It is targeted to the unorganized sector and provides pension benefits with a minimum contribution per month. Suitable for all individuals between 18 to 40 years of age.
  • Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana – It is a life insurance scheme which was introduced by our late finance minister Arun Jaitley to increase the number of insurances in the country which is very low. The premium is Rs 330 every year.

These schemes are for both men and women but there are few social security schemes for women empowerment as well these schemes are as followed: 

  • Mahila E-Haat – It is an online marketing platform which is launched by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to support women entrepreneur. Women can register themselves at www.mahilaehaat-rmk.gov.in for showcasing their work to a larger audience. This initiative also comes under ‘Digital India’. 
  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao – This was launched in 2015 the initial funding of this scheme was 100 crore. It targets the clusters in  Punjab, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Haryana. To bridge the gap between the birth of a girl child and boy government came up with this scheme to ‘Save Girl Child’. 
  • One-Stop Centre Scheme – This scheme was implemented with the ‘Nirbhaya’ fund. This scheme is for the victims of violence and it provides services like shelter, legal, medical and counseling services under one roof. The toll-free helpline number is 181. 
  • Working Women Hostel – The objective of this scheme is to promote safe accommodation for women in urban, semi-urban and rural areas. 
  • Swadhar Greh – The Swadhar scheme was launched by the Union Ministry of Women and Child for the rehabilitation of women in tough circumstances. The beneficiaries include food, clothing, the shelter of vulnerable women. Mainly for a dowager, women released from jail and without family support. 
  • Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) – The Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP) emphasizes on providing women with the necessary skills that give employability to women. This project will be for up to 5 years. Includes sectors like agriculture, horticulture, food processing, handlooms, tailoring, stitching, embroidery, zari, etc, handicrafts, computer & IT enable services along with soft skills and skills for the workplace such as spoken English, gems & jewellery, travel & tourism, hospitality, etc.

But even after these security schemes for women, there are still lakhs of workers who are not well known with the schemes. They need proper comprehensive documents and other information which usually they are not able to provide. There needs to be a proper layout of how these schemes should be known by all the workers and for that, the government has to take various measures such as Simplification of default penal charges, the mode of payment, removal of the closure of account after 24 months and conducting a meeting with the State Governments. 

In India, almost 94% of total women workers are engaged in the informal sector. Which constitutes a massive part of the informal sector. Due to the current pandemic, the situation in the informal sector has been devastating for workers especially women workers as not only do they face higher risks due to their social disadvantages but also they have fewer resources as compared to men working in the informal sector. It is time for our government to go beyond these schemes measures for formal sectors but also an emphasis on the informal sector as most of the people belong there. 

We Need a Comprehensive Social Security Schemes for Women

The Directive Principles of State Policy in Article 41 of the Constitution says that within the limits of its economic capacity, the State would provide “public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness, disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want” It is the responsibility of the state to provide with a social security scheme and shouldn’t be treated as a burden. Social Security Schemes for Women in India should be based on ILO’s social protection floor framework. It should be universal and should provide vulnerable groups with immediate reliefs. The state should also support the women’s participation in all aspects of administration as well as the informal sector including anganwadi workers.

These government-sponsored schemes are made to promote social welfare for women and for reducing poverty, malnutrition and improve the basic healthcare structure but due to ineffective implementation and inefficiencies in the system, we failed. These failures adversely impact the lives of women. The parameters and approach to social security schemes for women are guided by the Ministry of Labour and Employment but are also shaped with international standards which include nutrition, healthcare, housing, education, water and sanitation. The equalisation of schemes should also be considered and focused upon. There is an urgent need to effectively implement these social security schemes for women and to bridge the gap.

Strategy to Implement 

  • The government should give the workers the right to leave with pay during the lockdown. The minimum wages for women workers should be increased by giving them a brief understanding about the different investment and security schemes. 
  • States like Kerala have implemented recovery funds set up which help the workers recoup with the disposition of assets. 
  • A reliable healthcare sector which has been given to the formal sector should be extended to the informal sector as well. 
  • The scheme should not just be economically driven but should also be given on providing them with social equality amongst men. 
  • Pension should be given importance as it is an integral part of social security. It should be examined with the central government and should be given at the right time and explain them in a simple manner.

For many years the Ministry of Labour and Employment is working on bringing a common body for universal social security. It’s high time the government implements it. Since independence, we have come a long way ahead and now we understand the needs of our workers who are the backbone of our country. Now we just need to act on it. 

Rasleen Grover

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