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Sunday, December 17, 2000

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'Low literacy level among women hurdle to empowerment'

By Our Staff Correspondent

GULBARGA, DEC. 16. The Task Force on Empowerment of Women will submit its final report to the State Government in March 2002. This will be preceded by an interim report which will be submitted in March 2001.

Disclosing this at a press conference here today, the Chairperson of the task force, Ms. Guramma Siddareddy, said although the State Government had not set a deadline for the submission of the report, the task force would not require more time to submit its recommendations.

The task force had begun identifying the reasons which hampered women from becoming self-sufficient. Data was being collected from women's organisations and representatives.

Ms. Siddareddy said before submitting its interim report, the task force would hold division-level workshops involving women's groups, women representatives in the panchayat raj institutions and urban local bodies, writers and media personalities. The first such division-level meeting would be held here on December 19 and it would be inaugurated by the Gulbarga University Vice- Chancellor, Dr. M.V. Nadkarni.

Similarly workshops would also be held in Belgaum and Chikmagalur before the end of February after which the interim report would be prepared. The interim report would deal with the need for reservation for the women in elections to the Assembly and Parliament, equal representation for women in the appointment of chairpersons of corporations and boards, ways to improve the literacy level among women and providing marketing opportunities for products produced by women entrepreneurs.

Ms. Siddareddy said that one of the major hurdles in the way of ensuring women's empowerment was the low literacy rate among them, which resulted in their exploitation. The interim report would also recommend equal share of ancestral property for the girl child.

She said that the task force had constituted subcommittees to study different problems faced by women. The education subcommittee would be chaired by Ms. Lakshmibai Gurappagour, the finance subcommittee by Ms. Sushilamma, the social sector subcommittee by Ms. Vasanti Shivaram and the political and health subcommittees would be headed by herself.

She said the State was not utilising the funds allocated by the Union Government for non-formal education for the benefit of school dropouts in the age group of 8 to 14. This year the Union Government had set aside Rs. 1,900 crores for the purpose and the State's share would be more than Rs. 100 crores. The non-formal education projects were meant to be implemented by non- governmental organisations (NGOs).

She said Maharashtra was one of the few states which had fully utilised the funds available for non-formal education schemes.

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