Terming women as key stakeholders in peace-building, Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti today reiterated her Government’s commitment to work for the safety, development and empowerment of J&K’s womenfolk.
“While women bear the maximum brunt of any kind of violence, at the same time they are key stakeholder in bringing about sustainable peace,” the Chief Minister said while addressing separate functions at Women’s College Gandhi Nagar and Women’s College Parade here organized in connection with the launch of a new ‘Scooty Finance’ scheme in the State under which J&K Government will provide scooties to the college going girls by sponsoring 50% of the cost.
Also present on the occasion were, Speaker, J&K Legislative Assembly, Mr Kavinder Gupta, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar, Vice -Chairman of J&K Sate Advisory Board for Development of Schedule Castes, Mr Bhushan Lal Dogra and MLA Jammu East, Mr Rajesh.
Terming the scheme a part of an endeavor to empower the girl child and to facilitate her independent mobility, the Chief Minister said that the State Government will facilitate 50% sponsorship of the cost of Scooty for around 1500 college going girls in J&K. These vehicles, she said will enable girl’s independence of mobility and at the same time promote confidence in them, she said.
Enumerating various initiatives taken by her Government towards the empowerment of girls, Ms Mehbooba said that ‘Laadli Beti’ scheme has been launched to create a strong positive disposition towards the girl child and aims to reverse the alarming trend of declining child sex ratio. The scheme addresses the concerns of girl’s right from birth to adulthood by providing financial security to them, she added.
She said another initiative in this regard is starting of ladies special buses meant exclusively to facilitate safe and easy commutation for women both in Jammu and Srinagar. “With this initiative, I can now assure that my sisters and daughters need not be concerned about intimidation in public transport,” she said
The Chief Minister said that the Government has increased the number of woman police stations across the state and it is an important initiative towards ensuring safety of women folk and will help women to put forth their grievances or complaints without any hesitation.
Highlighting the importance of education, Ms Mehbooba said that it is the most important tool that a girl can have to make her feel and be independent. She added that besides focused attention on education sector, the Government is also committed to create more job avenues and to enhance employability of women. “To help women be financially and economically independent, Woman Entrepreneurship Development Institutes are coming up both in Jammu and Srinagar, so as to enable women start their own income generating ventures,” she said.
Ms Mehbooba asked the parents to give ample opportunities to the girls to grow and live their dreams. She said that parents should understand the aptitude of their children and let them pursue a career of their choice and excel in that field.
She also advised the girls not to meekly tolerate any sort of harassment and speak out for their rights. ”With growing trend of nuclear families our family support system has been affected and children have less interaction with their parents, you should have more such interactions so that your siblings share their good and bad experiences with you”, she asked the young girls.
The Chief Minister said that every religion has acknowledged the strengths and importance of women. “Though she may not match a man physically but women are bestowed with immense mental strength to take on any challenge,” she said and added that her father and the former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has always been sensitive towards issues pertaining to women safety and empowerment and various initiatives were taken with an aim to change the perception towards female child.
The Chief Minister said that the Scooty Scheme will not only give flight to the dreams of the girls who come from lower socio-economic background but will also boost their self confidence. “With the Government’s initiative of providing financial support, more college going girls shall be able to purchase a Scooty of their own as they will have to pay only for 50% of the cost”, the Chief Minister said. However, she advised the young girls to always follow traffic rules, wear helmets and exhibit responsible behavior while on wheels.
Pertinently, being the first woman Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti has already taken several women specific initiatives in the State, and in line with this, a provision of 50% subsidy on purchase of a Scooty was kept in the budget 2016-17 for college going girls by the Finance Minister, Dr Haseeb Drabu.
Earlier, the Chief Minister handed over the Scooty keys to the students under the scheme. 150 Scooties were given away under the scheme in each college during the function. The scheme is also being launched in Srinagar shortly.
Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh said that throughout the history of evolution of mankind women have faced and bravely overcome numerous societal challenges and crated a niche for themselves in every sphere of life. He said we are passing through a transition face wherein women have successfully ventured in different fields and from homemakers are steadily becoming equal partners in nation’s progress and development.
Dr Singh said that with the launch of Beti Padhao and Beti Bachao programme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has envisaged a new India where the girl child is welcomed and is given equal opportunity to be educated and empowered. He said along with this important initiative the state has launched Laadli Beti scheme which shall immensely strengthen the cause of women empowerment. While congratulating the girls who were given the keys of the scootiess, Deputy Chief Minister said that this is not just to enhance their mobility but to give them a new sense of confidence and independence to achieve their dreams. He asked girls to put in hard toil to achieve bigger goals in life.
While addressing the gathering, Minister for Education, Mr Naeem Akhtar said time has come to break away from the socio-cultural taboos and give the women their due respect and importance in the society. He said the Scooty Finance scheme may be the first step towards empowering our girls but it will definitely turn into a revolution for redefining our society in a positive direction.
Exhorting upon the girls to stand against the social vices like dowry, Mr Akhtar said that girls have to play a vital role in bringing about a positive perceptible social change.
Commissioner Secretary, Higher Education, Dr Asgar Hassan Samoon, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Dr Pawan Kotwal, IGP Jammu, Mr Danesh Rana, Deputy Commissioner Jammu, Mr Simrandeep Singh and other officers of the divisional and district administration were also present on the occasion.