New Delhi, 24 April 2014 : Country representative of UNICEF Louis George Arsenault today commended certain provisions of the National Food Security Act, including the provision for subsidized food and nutritional security to the people and specific entitlements for women and poorest of the poor. However, he described as “revolutionary” and “a way forward”, the new definition being given under this Act to the head of the household ─ the eldest woman, who is not less than 18 years of age for getting the ration card.
He made this observation while inaugurating a two-day Women’s Political Empowerment Day Celebrations organized by the Institute of Social Sciences. He further said that UNICEF being the key partner of the Govt of India supports the Government’s efforts to address high rates of malnutrition in India through the Right to Food Act. On this occasion, two outstanding women panchayat leaders ─ Shyama Bai from MP and Manju Devi, Mukhiya of Sirka East, Ramgarh, Jharkhand ─ were honoured.
Speaking on this occasion Rebecca Tavares, UN Women, congratulated women panchayat leaders for not only being the numerically largest in the world (15 lakhs), but also for their role as “change agent”. But at the same time, she also drew attention of women pancyayat leaders towards India being home to the largest number of hungry and malnourished people. Panchayati Raj Institutions and their representatives have the potential to address these problems by better vigilance and monitoring mechanisms. It is incumbent on the panchayats to prioritize issues like child marriage, female infanticide, sanitation, toilets in schools, ration cards, etc., she added. Dr. George Mathew, Chairman of ISS made the introductory remarks and Dr. Ash Narain Roy, Director, ISS gave the welcome address. About 150 elected women panchayat representatives from 20 States are participating in this program.
Photo caption: From left to right: Dr. George Mathew, Mr. Louis George Arsenault, Ms. Shyama Bai, Ms. Manju Devi (Award Winner), Ms. Rebecca Tavares, Dr. Ash Narain Roy