Listing women empowerment as one of the top agendas of the State Government, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, today said the female folk are important stakeholders in making Jammu and Kashmir a peaceful and progressive State.
"Women have huge stakes in peace as they are the first casualty of any trauma or violence. Also, the brunt of the societal losses is borne more by the women than the men. In our world which is full of chaos, investments must be made to empower women. If you empower a girl or a woman, you are empowering the entire nation," Mufti said.
The Chief Minister was speaking during two separate functions at SKICC in Srinagar and Dak Bungalow Baramulla while launching 'Empowering the Girl Child' scheme.
Ahead of her speech, Ms Mufti handed over keys of scooters to 300 girl students of Government Colleges for Women MA Road and Nawa Kadal College in Srinagar and 150 students of Government Women's College Baramulla.
Under the scheme, the Government provides subsidy on scooters for meritorious girl students.
Noting that women in our society struggle throughout their life starting right from their birth and have to face various difficulties, the Chief Minister said that this scheme is part of an endeavor of the State Government to empower the girl child and to facilitate her independent mobility.
She said under the scheme the State Government will facilitate 50% sponsorship of the cost of Scooty for college going girls in the State. These vehicles will enable girl's independence of mobility and at the same time promote confidence in them, she added.
The Chief Minister reiterated her Government's commitment to work for the safety, development and empowerment of J&K's womenfolk and added that this scheme will not only help girls in commuting but will also bring in her courage, self confidence and a feeling of self dependence. She added that the scheme was supposed to be launched in the Kashmir valley in the month of July, however due to the unfortunate situation it was delayed.
Referring to the education sector, the Chief Minister said that it has suffered the most during the recent turmoil and added that while people who can afford shall manage the education of their children outside the state, however the students from poor families have suffered massive academic loss. She further said that even those who can afford also think twice in case of female child, who ultimately suffers again.
Hoping that the prevailing situation will improve and better time shall prevail, Ms Mehbooba said that "as Mahtma Gandhi saw a ray of hope in Jammu & Kashmir in 1947, I also see a similar ray of hope that things will be back to normal soon".
The Chief Minister also announced All Terrain Mountain Bike (ATMB) scheme for meritorious boys on the pattern of Scooty Scheme for girl students. She said under the scheme any boy in the 10th standard belonging to lower economic background who has to cover a distance of more than 2 kms from his home to school and shall secure above 58% in his 10th exams will be eligible for a mountain bicycle if he gives in writing that he shall continue to pursue his education.
Recalling her college and university days, the Chief Minister said she has firsthand experience of the harassment suffered by girl students on the roads and during travel in public transport, "In Kashmir, the problems are more complicated. While education has suffered due to ongoing situation, the girl students have borne the brunt. They have been confined to their homes. While riding these scooters, keep your head high and feel proud of your achievements," she said while addressing the girl students.
Lauding the efforts of the State's Finance Minister, Mehbooba said the State Government is endeavouring to make positive contributions for the welfare of girl child and women in J&K. "Keeping this in mind, our Government launched a scheme called 'Laadli Beti' so that a girl child is not seen as a burden by her poor parents," the Chief Minister said. She said the 'Laadli Beti' scheme has been launched to create a strong positive disposition towards the girl child and aims to reverse the alarming trend of declining child sex ratio. The scheme addresses the concerns of girl's right from birth to adulthood by providing financial security to them, she added.
She said another initiative in this regard is starting of ladies special buses meant exclusively to facilitate safe and easy commutation for women.
The Chief Minister said that the Government has increased the number of woman police stations across the state and it is an important initiative towards ensuring safety of women folk and will help women to put forth their grievances or complaints like domestic violence, without any hesitation.
She said that the Government is also considering establishment of institutes for entrepreneurship development specially for women so that they could benefit from it and earn their living. The Chief Minister added that education is the most important tool that a girl can have to make her feel and be independent. To the exam going children the Chief Minister said that, exams are approaching that those who wish could appear in November and others in March and wished them all the best.
Describing in length the virtues of Islam and the place of women in The Holy Quran, Mehbooba said: "Islam has great regard for women, but unfortunately, she is seen as a burden. The reality of Islam is being hidden from us. Hazrat Khadija (RA), wife of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), was a businesswoman. Hazrat Aisha (RA) was a great horse rider and she also led a battle".
The Chief Minister said Islam gives enormous rights to women but certain vested interests distort the real message to suit their politics. "If we want peace and stability, women should also have stakes in our social and political processes. Looking after parents is not the job of sons only in the same way as cooking is for women," she said.