Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Award for Belgaum based Women Walfare Society

News soruce: Press Information bureau
link proveded By Sheri Sundeep (IIT Roorke)

The President, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil gave away the 6th and the 7th Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Awards for the years 2003 and 2004 at Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi today. Following is the text of the President’s speech on the occasion: “I am happy to give away the 6th and the 7th Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Awards to organizations who have done exemplary work in the field of women’s development for the years 2003 and 2004. Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh was a courageous freedom fighter, committed educationist, active social reformer and an eminent Parliamentarian. As a Member of Parliament, she took up various causes of the poor and was instrumental in getting a number of social welfare measures adopted. She is described by many as the “Mother of social work in India” because of the great dynamism she imparted to work in the sphere of women’s welfare, motivated as she was by a strong commitment to their advancement. In her capacity as the founder Chairperson of the Central Social Welfare Board, she mobilized thousands of voluntary organizations to carry out programmes of education, training and rehabilitation for needy women, children and the handicapped. It is, therefore, befitting that the Central Social Welfare Board constituted an award in her name to be given to organizations working in the field of women's development. The life and work of great persons always inspire others. Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh was such a person, who can be a role model for women. Today, our nation is working for inclusive growth, which means development of social sectors to complement our economic growth with a view to have a sustainable and equitable path of growth. What do we need to do for achieving inclusive growth? In my view it entails four essential steps – the identification of those sections of the population who have got left behind, followed by the formulation of a framework of policies and programmes for their benefit. In these two first steps, we have made considerable progress. The next two steps are implementation and a monitoring system for the proper implementation of programmes and policies designed for the upliftment of the weaker sections of society. The effectiveness of any development programme can be assessed by the actual impact it has on the lives of the beneficiaries and society at large. If a large segment of the population remains beyond the purview of the ‘safety net’ of socio-economic programmes because of the failure of the implementation machinery, then their purpose is entirely defeated. Implementation and monitoring remain the principal challenges we face. This can only be done with the collective effort of the Government, civil society organizations and the people themselves. Popular participation, in fact, holds the key to the success of any programme of socio-economic change. To achieve various socio-economic goals of development, efforts should be made to forge public-private partnerships. The Central Social Welfare Board and the State Welfare Boards with more than five decades of work experience and an extensive network of welfare projects and centres, have a very important role to play in taking social services to the grassroot levels. Voluntary organizations also can assist people to get the benefits of governmental development programs and also assess their efficacy by conducting ‘social audits’ to study the impact of programmes on the socio-economic lives of people. With women constituting about 48.3 percent of our population, until welfare facilities are made available to them and they are empowered, we would have an unfinished task on hand. Women specific and women-related policies and programmes have been enunciated, the Government has also been creating an enabling policy environment in which women’s concerns can be reflected, articulated and redressed. Yet, my deep concern is that women still do not have the same opportunities as men. Real development cannot take root if it bypasses women, who represent the very pivot around which social changes takes shape. For achieving our objective of growth with equity and delivery of services with people’s participation, the mainstreaming of women into the national development process is essential. Women's empowerment requires that a range of steps be taken to facilitate their participation in educational, political and economic activities. This includes hostels for working women, crèches for children and women helpline services. I am glad that both organizations, that is - Abhaya and the Women’s Welfare Society, Belgaum - who have been conferred the Dr. Durgabai Deshmukh Award, are involved in multiple activities to ameliorate conditions of women. The work of Abhaya in looking after women mental patients in Kerala and of the Women’s Welfare Society, Belgaum in setting up helpline services for women in distress is commendable. Today, we have to start thinking about the tomorrow that we want. Today, there are fewer women in India than men and if this trend continues it would have an adverse impact on society itself. Societal attitudes need to be changed towards the girl child. We need to start shaping the attitude of the next generation so that it is a generation free of gender bias and social prejudices against women. Our efforts should be to enable the girl child of today to become the confident woman of tomorrow, ready to work, shoulder to shoulder, with men as equal partners in all spheres of national life. For that to happen, action needs to begin by providing education and health facilities for the girl child. I call on Social Welfare Boards to join in the endeavour to ensure that the girl child has access to education and there are no cases of dropouts from school. The incidence of child malnutrition, particularly in the case of the girl child, is high in India and needs our attention. Proper nutrition at the growing age makes a child physically and mentally strong. Voluntary organizations need to come forward to make people aware about health, food and proper hygiene. They should advise families about giving proper nutrition to the girl child and also educate society about looking at a girl child as an individual with as much potential for the future as a boy child. The Central Social Welfare Board and voluntary agencies have an important role in changing social prejudices and eliminating social evils through awareness campaigns. In this task I would call upon them and all of you to join hands with like-minded organizations and people. During my interaction with NSS volunteers and NCC cadets who had participated in the Republic Day Parade, I was informed about their experiences in their social service activities. I also saw their enthusiasm for the future. These young committed boys and girls are willing to join in efforts for the eradication of social evils. Their energies should be utilized to influence other youth. A society to be sustainable has to be a society based on realization of duty towards fellow human beings. The disabled and the handicapped should be given skills and support to live a life of dignity. Similarly, it should be understood that the care of the elderly, who in our tradition are venerated and given respect and honour, is a family duty and society’s responsibility. Social Welfare Boards should have “care support programmes for the elderly” who, at the twilight of their lives, after having worked hard, need special medical attention and emotional support. Social Welfare Boards should develop and strengthen the nationwide infrastructure of voluntary agencies through which these services could be made available. I conclude with a call to voluntary organizations to work selflessly for the poor and the underprivileged in society. It is only when we will succeed in this task that will we bring about a progressive and caring society. I once again congratulate the two organisations who have done wonderful work and hope others will take inspiration from them.”

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