The Union Ministry of Women and Child Development has appointed BJP national executive member Lalitha Kumaramangalam as the new chief of the National Commission for Women (NCW).
Hours after the Union Women and Child Development (WCD) Minister Menaka Gandhi announced her appointment here, Ms. Kumaramangalam spoke of her keenness to mainstream the gender issue in a holistic manner. Speaking to The Hindu , she said: “I am very glad and honoured to have been given this responsibility. I want to mainstream the gender issue in every developmental activity. Gender issues are usually reduced to man versus woman, but I want to address it in terms of allowing women access to all and every development activity, whether it is access to sanitation, or smart cities.”
Ms. Kumaramangalam also stressed on creating an atmosphere of “respect” for women. She said while there are many terms like “empowerment, autonomy and freedom” used to vis-à-vis gender issues and equality, there is need to ensure that women are treated with respect. “Where there is respect, there will be rights ensured. It is very important for society to respect women and give them their space. Gender issue, is a human issue, it has nothing to do with politics,” she said.
Ms. Kumaramanglam is an alumnus of St. Stephen's College and has Delhi and has an MBA from Madras University. She runs Prakriti, an NGO and contested the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 and 2009.
PTI adds :
“(Ms.) Kumaramangalam has been appointed as the NCW chairperson and we would like to welcome her,” Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said, days after she had disapproved the practice of “political appointees” in the Commission.
Giving more details, Ms. Gandhi said that Ms. Kumaramangalam runs an NGO called Prakriti. “She comes from Tamil Nadu. She has a very illustrious lineage, she is Mohan Kumamaramangalam’s daughter,” she added.
The Minister was asked if Ms. Kumaramangalam had any BJP affiliations. “(She) does have affiliations but not... in the sense that she has stood for elections twice, but that’s about it,” Ms. Gandhi said.
Asked about the reasons for the choice, Ms. Gandhi replied that “This has been decided by the government and the Prime Minister. I know her, I have met her and she is very strong, very forceful in her advocacy of women’s needs. I am sure she will be a great asset to the NCW.”
When asked about her idea to appoint a judge as the chairperson of NCW, Ms. Gandhi replied, “It is in a state of limbo.” However she did not elaborate on any specific reason because of which it is pending.
The proposal, which is aimed at enhancing the powers of the Commission, is awaiting approval from the Law Ministry.
Denying any communication gap between her ministry and the Law Ministry, Ms. Gandhi said, “I think they (Law Ministry) have their views on it and perhaps we should at some point work through those views.” Ms. Gandhi after taking charge had said that her Ministry wants to bring NCW on par with National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to effectively deal with cases of violence and harassment against women.
The WCD has proposed more powers for the NCW including giving it powers to investigate, search, seize, issue warrant and arrest in matters of domestic violence, police apathy and sexual harassment at work place.