ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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A Symbolic Presence

There is reluctance to truly empower the National Commission for Women.

Ever since the National Commission for Women (NCW) came into existence in 1992, its composition and functioning have been contentious and controversial. It has been accused of being a “talking shop,” of its chairperson always being a woman who is close to the political party in power and of at least one member being there by virtue of being a bureaucrat. Women’s groups and civil society organisations often have low expectations that the NCW would take a stand that is unambiguously in favour of the victims of gender violence and discrimination, especially when it would go against the views and interests of the ruling dispensation. The various state women’s commissions are no different, with all of them showing a similar composition and manner of working.

When the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government took office in 2014, the Union Minister of Women and Child Development, Maneka Gandhi, had spoken extensively about giving “more teeth” to the NCW and bringing it on the same footing as the National Commission for Human Rights.

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