• Within the broad goals laid down by the Five Year Plans, Government has consciously fostered an enabling policy environment in which women’s concerns are properly reflected, articulated and seriously addressed.
• As part of this effort many policy instruments have been brought-forth over the years. In addition to women specific policies which are listed below there are important women-related policies like the National Policy on Education (1986). The National Health Policy (1983), the National Population Policy (1993) and the National Nutrition Policy (1993).
• One of the most significant documents to emerge from the International Decade for Women was the Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women (FLS). It was intended to provide a blue print for action to advance the status of women in national and international, economic, social, cultural and legal spheres by the year 2000 A.D. The document was divided into five sections dealing with the equality, development, peace, areas of special concern and international/regional cooperation. Each section identified obstacles and specific measures to implement relevant strategies. The full participation and integration of women in all areas of society was stressed as well as the close relationship between the three goals of equality, development and peace.
• Government has responded to the FLS in tune with its own Constitutional and development paradigms. An important step taken into his direction was to revitalize the machinery at the national level by setting up a separate Department of Women and Child Development under the newly created Ministry of Human Resource Development. The Women’s Welfare and Development Bureau under the erst-while Ministry of Social and Women’s Welfare thus became part of the new Department and continues to function as the nodal agency for the advancement of women. In 1990 by an Act of Parliament, the National Commission of Women was set up with the specific character to monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and legal rights provided to women and thus strengthen the national machinery
National Perspective Plan for Women (1988)
• The National Perspective Plan for Women (NPP) was drawn up to facilitate main streaming of women’s issues in policies and programmes. It contains a set of recommendations aimed at the welfare and development of women, guided by principles and directives germane to existing development parameters. It is linked to national targets determined for the end of the century in respect of certain standard development indicators and is the first comprehensive report since 1974 on women and development in India.
• The NPP has recognized the need to highlight women’s concerns and stated that a parallel sub stream of women’s development, even if possible, would only perpetuate discrimination and subordination. It has envisioned an alternative strategy which provides not just some additional space to women but creates for them a democratic, egalitarian, secular and co-operative social structure. Re-viewing the gains of the four decades of planning, it has flag marked the initiatives required and set out a series of action points relating to sectors or rural development, health, legislation, political participation, education, employment, support services, communication and voluntary action. Some of these have already been implemented.