NAM’s Policy For The Empowerment Of Women
The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the NAM’s guiding principles, in line with various international conventions and human rights instruments committing to secure equal rights of women. A majority of the NAM member states grant equality to women, and even empower the state to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women. During the past decade or so, there has been a marked shift in the approach to women’s issues from welfare to development. In recent years, the empowerment of women has been recognized as the central issue in NAM’s socioeconomic agenda. Within the framework of a democratic polity, the laws, development policies, plans, and programmes in NAM member states now aim at women’s advancement in different spheres. To safeguard the rights and legal entitlements of women, many of the NAM member states have constituted national bodies for women.
However, there still exists a wide gap between the situational reality of women in NAM member states and legislation, policies, plans, programmes, and related mechanisms that are in place. Gender disparity manifests itself in various forms, the most obvious being the trend of continuously declining female ratio in many of the NAM member states. Social stereotyping and violence at the domestic and societal levels are some of the other manifestations. Discrimination against girl children, adolescent girls and women persists in various NAM member states.
The underlying causes of gender inequality are related to social and economic structure, which is based on informal and formal norms, and practices. Consequently, the access of women, particularly those belonging to the rural areas and in the informal, unorganized sector, to education, health and productive resources, among others, is inadequate. Therefore, they remain largely marginalized, poor and socially excluded.
The goal of NAM’s policy towards empowerment of women should be to bring about the advancement, development and empowerment of women in its member states. Such a policy should be widely disseminated so as to encourage active participation of all stakeholders for achieving its goals. Specifically, the objectives of this policy should include:
- Creating an environment through positive economic and social policies for full development of women to enable them to realize their full potential.
- The de-jure and de-facto enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedom by women on equal basis with men in all spheres – political, economic, social, cultural and civil.
- Equal access to participation and decision making of women in social, political and economic life.
- Equal access to women to health care, quality education at all levels, career and vocational guidance, employment, equal remuneration, occupational health and safety, social security and public office etc.
- Strengthening legal systems aimed at elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
- Changing societal attitudes and community practices by active participation and involvement of both men and women.
- Mainstreaming a gender perspective in the development process.
- Elimination of discrimination and all forms of violence against women and the girl child.
- Building and strengthening partnerships with civil society, particularly women’s organizations.
Under the policy, legal-judicial system should be made more responsive and gender sensitive to women’s needs, especially in cases of domestic violence and personal assault. The member states should be encouraged to enforce laws to ensure that justice is quick and the punishment meted out to the culprits is commensurate with the severity of the offence.
At the initiative of and with the full participation of all stakeholders including community and religious leaders, the NAM’s policy towards women empowerment should aim to encourage changes in personal laws such as those related to marriage, divorce, maintenance and guardianship so as to eliminate discrimination against women. Lastly, the evolution of property rights in a patriarchal system has contributed to the subordinate status of women. The Policy would aim to encourage changes in laws relating to ownership of property and inheritance by evolving consensus in order to make them gender just.
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