New Delhi: Renuka Chowdhury, 54 MoS (Independent Charge) for Women & child Development

Result: -1/10

She was given independent charge of the Women and Child Development Ministry in 2006 after WCD, earlier under the Human Resource Development Ministry, was made a separate ministry. After three years, there is no marked difference in the condition of women and children in the country.

Her brief

In its manifesto in 2004, the Congress said that a nutritious mid-day cooked meal scheme will be introduced in primary and secondary schools across the country and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) will be universalised to provide for a functional anganwadi in every settlement and full coverage for children below the age of six. Chowdhury was also expected to reduce incidences of maternal and child mortality and malnutrition.

Reforms derailed

In 1997, judicial guidelines were set on protection against sexual harassment at the workplace, but the “high priority bill” is still shuttling between the National Commission for Women (NCW) and WCD.

Child labour has not been abolished, apart from a few baby steps taken by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), under the WCD Ministry.

The demand for additional guaranteed financial support from the expenditure finance committee for the ambitious and controversial proposal to give fortified pre-packaged food—instead of hot cooked meals—to poor children as part of the revamp of the ICDS was trashed by the Planning Commission.

OPPORTUNITIES BLOWN

The UPA government dropped attempts to strengthen the anti-Sati law, more than 20 years after it was first enacted. The proposed law was expected to increase prison terms for those committing as well as glorifying the practice.

After the Nithari incident, Chowdhury stressed on the need for a database of missing children. Till date, the NCPCR is still juggling to get the figures.

Proposed to the Home Ministry that it grant amnesty to women prisoners. A year after, the issue remains untouched.

Once talked of taking up the issue of dumped NRI wives but there has hardly been any step forward in the direction.

State child commissions were supposed to be set up. A Bill was passed in Parliament in 2006, but other than in Delhi and Kerala, the commissions haven’t been set up.

What was she thinking?

After the Mangalore pub attack by the Sri Ram Sene, where young women were attacked in an alleged incident of moral policing, she championed the cause of progressive city youth by calling for a “Pub Bharo” campaign and claimed that Mangalore had been “talibanised”.

High point

The enforcement of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act (2005) in October 2006.

Low point

When she said “women must not trust their men” and guard themselves against HIV/AIDS, her statement drew flak from all quarters.

VIEW FROM THE SHADOW

“Except some debates and wordy duels, nothing substantive happened. WCD is a very important department.” —Murli Manohar Joshi, former HRD minister in the NDA government

Did she get your vote?

She lost in Khammam, Andhra Pradesh, by a margin of 1.24 lakh votes.

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