Do Social Policies Improve Choices for Women in India?

Indira Mahendravada


Public policy to attain gender equality in India has moved away from welfare approach to empowerment approach. Several policy initiatives are made for improving access to capability enhancing inputs to women. Education being one of the critical inputs for improving the capabilities of women, recent education policies are engendered at all levels. Specific programmes are introduced to operationalize the policy objectives. These initiatives have resulted in improving the gender parity at the primary and secondary level much more than at the higher education level. But the reduced gender gap in education attainment is not translated into increased work participation of women in public domain. Encouragement to formation of Self Help Groups (SHG) and linking them with the banking sector is another strategy adopted to empower women. Policies are initiated to link SHGs with other welfare programmes. However research studies revealed mixed outcomes on the impact of these programmes in improving the choices for women. Therefore, the focus of this paper will be on the critical analysis of gender specific social policies and the impact of these policies on improving the choices for women mainly based on the secondary data and field study results.

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