OTHER STATES

Special cell for women sought

for better support: Single and destitute women taking out a rally in Puducherry.

for better support: Single and destitute women taking out a rally in Puducherry.   | Photo Credit: — Photo : T. Singaravelou

Priti Narayan

PUDUCHERRY: Ganga of Kanagachettykulam lost her husband 10 years ago. Since then, she has found it very difficult to bring up her children, now aged 24 and 21. “I have had no support from my siblings in bringing them up, and no education to fall back on. The old age pension is also inadequate. It would be helpful if I am given a job, or at least, taught a skill to earn a living,” she said.

While government schemes are available for women, widows and single and destitute women enjoy no special privileges. In fact, the Annual Report 2008-2009 of the Tamil Nadu Voluntary Health Association (TNVHA) lists these women among ‘socially excluded’ groups such as Dalits and transgenders.

“Often, women are not even aware of schemes available to them,” said Saulina Arnold of TNVHA. “We found out that women living alone, whose houses were destroyed in the 2004 tsunami, have not been rehabilitated. These women were just asked to live with their siblings or children. We have also found that often old, women with disabilities are not even included in the census,” she revealed.

In order to bring their issues to light, around 50 such women from Puducherry took out a rally recently, seeking a special board for their welfare, financial assistance for the tsunami-affected and loans for self-employment. The rally culminated in a seminar attended by Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy, Chairperson of the Puducherry Women’s Commission S. Kamalini and representatives of TNVHA, Pondicherry Multipurpose Social Service Society (PMSSS) and HOPE.

Socially excluded women constitute about 10 per cent of the adult women population, said K.R. John, president of TNVHA. They are not part of self-help groups, have very low incomes and no support system.

The plight of these women has been brought to my attention for the first time, admitted Welfare Minister M. Kandasamy. “We will be setting up a committee in 2010 to compile a census, which will gather details about the reach of our welfare schemes, and the number of socially excluded women and other marginalised people in the Union Territory. This way, we can extend benefits such as widow pension, loans for self-employment, land pattas and ration cards for those women who have not received them yet. Also, we will consider building a working women’s hostel for single women,” he said.

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