The material posted here was provided to the Division for the Advancement of Women by the Government in response to the Secretary-General's Questionnaire on Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action. It has been made available in electronic format from the form received. In cases where it was not possible to reproduce charts and tables supplied, these can be obtained by contacting the Division for the Advancement of Women directly.


Review of the Critical Concerns of the 'Platform for Action'Beijing Plus Five

Respondent's profile

Name of the institution: Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action (YUVA)
Name of contact person: Ms Archana Shrivastav
Geographical area of work: Jogeshwari, Malad, Dharavi and Pavement communities across the city of Mumbai, Nagpur and Pune.
YUVA’s area’s of work: Issues of women, youth, children and housing.
Youth for Unity & Voluntary Action (YUVA)
53/52, Nare Park Municipal School Building,
Nare Park, Parel (East)
Mumbai - 400 012
Tel: 4116393/9
Fax: 4135314

Profile of Intervention

YUVA has in line with its vision of a just and humane society been working with the urban poor for the last 15 years. Our work with women is a natural outcome of our vision.

When we speak of women, we refer to destitute women, minority women, single women, women in the unorganized sector, women in their families, every woman who is oppressed.

Our interventions incorporate our understanding of practical and strategic gender needs of women. We believe that basic survival needs must be fulfilled and causes for deprivation understood. Hence the emphasis on areas of livelihood and housing.

Our work in the area of Livelihood involves the formation of self help groups which focus on not just asset building, which is an important component, but also on the creation of a social space for women where discussions on their concerns are encouraged. It is a space for fostering the understanding of the personal being political. We believe that women understand their developmental needs and we only need to facilitate that understanding into planning and action. In Livelihood, we also work on formation of co-operatives and organizing women in the unorganized sector.

We work with street girls, providing them support at the time of crisis and also engage in a day to day involvement aimed at understanding and working towards their life-concerns at the structural, social and psycho-emotive levels.

YUVA has been actively involved in the Campaign for Right to Housing and the drive against evictions. We believe that the right to shelter is a basic human right and evictions without rehabilitation are human right violations.

Women and Poverty

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. Review, adopt and maintain macro-economic policies and development strategies that address the needs and efforts of women in poverty.
  2. Revise laws and administrative practices to ensure women’s equal rights and access to economic resources.
  3. Provide women with access to savings and mechanisms and institutions.
  4. Develop gender based methodologies and conduct research to address the feminization of poverty.
43% of the population of Maharashtra lives in urban areas and 70% of this population can be classified as being poor and assuming women to constitute half of the population we have a sizeable number of poor women in urban cities. And with increasing migration this number has been on the rise. Inspite of the existence of such a large poor population there is complete govt apathy to their suffering. Instead of enacting policies to alleviate their condition welfare schemes for urban poor have either been scrapped or made inaccessible. For example: the various welfare schemes were in 1998 clubbed under one umbrella scheme called Suvarna Jayanti Shahri Rozgar Yojna. To qualify for this scheme a person’s family should belong to the Below Poverty Line list. And to qualify for this list a person should be on the borderline of starvation, as the income per head should not exceed approximately. Rs 420 a month. The BPL criteria considers a full stomach a luxury and if a person can afford to pay for anything beyond that say even medicine the person no longer qualifies for any welfare scheme. Such policies have only aggravated the sufferings of the poor especially women as they now spend a lot more of their time working for wages which are not just lower than before but also insufficient maintain their previous standard of living. In Dharavi today we see women at work from 4 a.m. to well into the night on just one meal a day. The situation in other slum communities is also very similar. Due to the large scale of retrenchment of the organised labour the burden of sustaining the family has fallen on the women but it has in no way improved her status at home. She is still a beast of burden, only the burden has increased. There have been a number of studies highlighting the disastrous effects of the economic policies being pursued by the govt. These policies have caused a large scale of informalisation of labour, which has impacted women, the most and caused deterioration in their standards of living. Inspite of so much evidence on the negative impact of the economic policies no remedial measures have been taken.
  • The BPL criteria needs to be reviewed and indicators to identify vulnerable families need to be compiled. These indicators could be borrowed from the Community Development Society model of Kerala.
  • The govt also needs to make available schemes for urban poor women and setup institutional mechanisms for their implementation. MAVIM does have a few schemes but there are no mechanisms for disseminating information about these schemes.
  • Credit schemes for urban poor women should be made available on a priority.
  • A comprehensive understanding of poverty alone will help address the problem. This understanding comes from understanding the structural causes of poverty.
  • A review of the economic policies.


Women and Economy

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. Promote women’s economic rights and independence, including access to employment and appropriate working conditions and control over economic resources.
  2. Facilitate women’s equal access to resources, employment, markets and trade.
  3. Provide business services, training and access market information and technology, particularly to low income women.
  4. Strengthen women’s economic capacity and commercial networks.
  5. Eliminate occupational segregation and all forms of discrimination.
  6. Promote harmonization of work and family responsibilities for women and men.
As already discussed the economic policies of the government have done nothing but increased the hardships of the urban poor women. There has been large scale of retrenchment in organised sector workforce which has impacted women the most. The percentage of women involved in homebased work has increased drastically while no legislations have been enacted to protect them from the exploitative working conditions. The unorganized sector women are not even recognized as Workers and hence cannot claim any rights inspite of contributing to the economy. Due to liberalisation women have been displaced from the market. Large MNC’s owing to the economies of scale, manage to kill small competitors. There is a pressing need for legislations for unorganized sector women workers taking into consideration their plight and exploitative work conditions. Legislations applicable to organised sector workers like minimum wages and protection against sexual exploitation should be made applicable to all women irrespective of the sector they are employed in. When the Maharashtra state policy for women was being formulated NGOs working with women had made a number of recommendations. Some of the recommendations which were accepted as policy guidelines were:
  • Preference to women in allotting the Zunka Bhakar Kendras
  • Preference to be given to women's co ops to run ration shops
  • Markets to be provided to women to sell their products and services namely handing over the govt canteens to women to manage.

These recommendations have however not been translated into practice and no govt resolutions have been passed to implement them. There needs to be a govt will to execute pro women policies, which will reflect their commitment to women's issues.

Women and Violence

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. To take integrated measures to prevent and eliminate violence against women.
  2. Study the causes and consequences of violence against women and the effectiveness of preventive measures.
  3. Eliminate trafficking in women and assist victims of violence due to prostitution and trafficking.
The govt seems to have taken the issue of women and violence very seriously and has passed a number of positive legislations which have provided redressal to a number of women but there is still scope for changes and a need to scrap some very detrimental legislation. For e.g. S125 of the CrPC states that women who are earning have no right to maintenance. The woman might be rolling papads and earning mere Rs 5 a day but it is a sufficient ground for disqualification from right to maintainance The judges in the Family Courts are not always gender sensitive and do not view things from a rights perspective. One extremely positive change that is seen today is that women are ready to walk out of exploitative marriages and the percentage of the families which support such decisions of the daughter has also risen considerably. Women would rather earn and live a life of dignity than suffer a cruel marriage. Also the number of parents ready to give the daughter a share in the matrimonial property has increased, not substantially but nevertheless. What is alarming is the newer forms of violence which have come up. A number of young girls have been assaulted by men on refusing to give in to their advances. This increasing aggressiveness among men can be attributed to the media's glorification of violence. Even our elected representatives who mouth their concern for women actually don't think twice before verbally and physically assaulting them if they dare speak against them. The infamous case of Gopinath Munde is a good enough example. The violence against women to gain political mileage has also shown a marked increase with the attacks on women involved in social fields and on women who do not prescribe to the set images which men have envisaged for them.
  • Sensitization of police, legal, judicial and political systems in the implementation of current protections for women and the formation of new provisions that take into account a more comprehensive definition of violence against women.
  • Effective mechanisms for implementation of protective and preventive provisions that include inculcation of the process and attitudinal requirements for effectiveness across groups.


Women and Media

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. Increase the participation and access of women to expression and decision making in and through the media and new technologies of communication.
  2. Encourage and recognize women’s media networks and other technologies of communication as a means of dissemination of information and the exchange of views, including at the international level, and support women’s groups active in all media work and systems of communication to that end.
  3. Promote a balanced and non-stereotyped portrayal of women in the media.
Considering the fact that media is one of the key agents of socialization their irresponsible potrayal of stereotypical images of women in this day and age is extremely shocking. There is no justification for typecasting women in traditional roles as we have seen that serials, which show women as having some substance, have found a lot of appeal.

Commercials that objectify women abound and strangely no men in the political parties find it worth condemning but when movies which question the structures of society are made theatres screening them are ransacked.

Accepting that the media plays a very important role in shaping perceptions how does one get them to be accountable is a dilemma since censorship seems to only promote and preserve the traditional images of women.

Women in Power and Decision Making

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. Take measures to ensure women’s equal access to and full participation in power structures and decision making.
  2. Increase women’s capacity to participate in decision making and leadership.
The fate of the Bill for reservation for women in Parliament depends on the whims of our male representatives. Though every party claims to have women's concerns on their agenda the Bill has encountered hostility from every party. The percentage of women candidates a party fields itself speaks volumes of their commitment. The need for reservation of women in parliament and its social benefits can be seen by the impact on villages on account of women's representation in the Panchayat. A case study by Prakriti News Trust states that research has shown that women show a greater understanding of community issues. While men prioritise roads, construction of physical structure for offices TV and radio sets for the Panchayat women prioritise schools for children, health centres and smokeless choolahs. (Source: Listen to Women's Vote; published by British Council Division; July 1998;New Delhi)

Reservations however cannot be an answer by itself. They should be accompanied by political education of women so as not to remain mere puppets in the hands of men. The case of Fatima of Kalwa Gram Panchayat only illustrates this point further.


Women and Environment

Commitment At Beijing

Current Status

Our Recommendations

  1. Involve women actively in environmental decision making at all levels.
  2. Integrate gender concerns and perspectives in policies and programs for sustainable development.
  3. Strengthen or establish mechanisms at the regional national, and international levels to assess the impact of developmental and environmental policies on women
YUVA defines 'environment' as the sum of conditions that enable a person to live with dignity and fosters the development of human potential. Basic amenities like water and toilets are as much part of the environment as the trees and natural resources. Hence assessment of the basic amenities is considered to be an important component of assessing the environment The environmental status review of the areas we work in show that people are living with inadequate and in some instances even without basic minimum services. Electricity is purchased illegally even today. The amount of water supplied to a house is dependant on the area of the house so a poor woman is deprived of sufficient water because she can’t afford a large house. All the factors prove that being poor is a crime in this city, which has environmental concerns of a Clean and Green City; wherein "Clean" implies evicting slum-dwellers so as to have clear roads to plant trees, which will curb the pollution. People don’t matter. The intolerance for the poor is a dangerous trend coming in. Social consciousness for citizens groups has meant tackling the hawkers and pavement dweller "menace". The right to a footpath takes precedence to the right to earning a livelihood or the right to shelter. The govt machinery ratifies this view
  • The definition of environment should be enlarged to include all concerns necessary to live a life of dignity and realize one’s potentials.
  • Initiatives like the 'mahila dalan' and 'mahila kendra' are extremely important in urban areas as women in cities have no place to get together. Just as the govt has budgetary allocations for youth centres and gyms, which cater, only to male youth there should be allocations for




  and the officials who want to show a good performance record do so by walking away with the raw materials and finished goods of both poor men and women. As far as women’s participation in developmental decision-making goes it seems an far-fetched dream because we have yet to see developmental projects which have been implemented with transparency and taking citizens into confidence. Thus citizens across the board, be it men, women or children have no space for participation in the planning of the city. Women have no physical space of their own in the city; a place they can escape to when life becomes too difficult to handle, a place where they can let their hair down and let go of their worries. In rural Maharashtra according to policy every village has to have a mahila kendra called "Maher" meaning mother’s home. But these places are given to the Sarpanch or to ICDS to manage and women have no control over the resources meant for them. However there is no parallel provision for women in cities.

Initiatives like this taken by NGOs have shown tremendous results in women becoming aware of their own issues. For e.g. in the Jhanghar District of Bihar there has been an initiative called mahila dalan which has provided the much needed space to women in a patriarchal society.

women’s centres too.


The Girl Child; Still Invisible (Street Girls)

Commitment at Beijing

Current status

Our Recommendations

  1. Eliminate all forms of discrimination against the girl child.
  2. Eliminate negative cultural attitudes and practices against girls.
  3. Promote and protect the rights of the girl child and increase awareness of her needs and potentials.
  4. Eliminate discrimination against girls in education, skill development and training.
  5. Eliminate discrimination against girls in health and nutrition.
  6. Eliminate the economic exploitation of child labour and protect young girls at work.
  7. Eradicate violence against the girl child.
  8. Promote the girl child’s awareness of and participation in social, economic and political life.
  9. strengthen the role of the family in improving the status of the girl child.
YUVA runs a shelter for street children as well as an emergency phone service for children in distress. In the past five years what seems to be a very obvious change is the sharp increase in the number of girls taking to the streets. The shelter has begun receiving on an average 5 new cases in a month. The incidence of girls running away from home on account of poverty, family conflict (primarily economic in nature) and sexual harassment has shown a definite increase. As far as the girl child is concerned poverty drives parents into selling their children as domestic helps where they are physically and sexually abused. The law does not consider child domestic workers as child labourers and this field is completely unregulated with no legislations. Domestic work, which primarily has women and girl children as employees, is not considered work and those employed, as domestic helps do not have a worker status. Young girls because of their vulnerability are optimally exploited and no remorse is shown even after the abuse takes the child’s life. The fact that these murderers continue to enjoy govt jobs is still more shocking. The Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) is investigating cases of so called accidental deaths of young girls in their employer’s house. The studies reveal gruesome facts of inhuman abuse leading to death. The brutal treatment and the remorselessness speak volumes of the death of our humanness. Till the root causes namely poverty and gender inequalities are addressed these problems will persist and might even find newer expressions.
  • There is an urgent need for 'shelter homes' for street girls which are not only provide physical solace but also pscho-emotional respite through facilities such as counselling, etc.
  • There is a need for compulsory elementary education for all children and more so for the girl child.

There are a number of successful initiatives by NGOs in the field of children’s education, which ought to be replicated by the govt. for e.g. the Bhonga shalas (schools) run by Shramjeevi Sanghatna in the tribal areas of Thana.

The experiment in Gujrat which made the education of women compulsory and fined them for non attendance ensured that women there have achieved atleast functional literacy and send their daughters and hence also sons to school.

In Marathwada the chief minister announced a scheme whereby girls attending school were given a stipend which was also very effective.

  • Training courses for girls should look beyond the stereotypical domains of tailoring and beautician courses and be more market savvy.
  • CACL believes that every child who is out of school is a potential child labourer.
  • All forms of child labour should be banned and regarded as hazardous as it ruins the whole life of an individual.

(See also: Attached Case Study)


Women and Housing

The Supreme Court has observed that the foremost human right-the right to life, includes the right to livelihood and shelter which is reasonably proximate to the place of work. This is reiterated in international covenants of which India is a signatory. The single most critical problem associated with urban displacement is the loss of employment or of site related income sources and the uncertainty of finding new employment in the relocation area. The distance of the relocation site from the original place of residence and livelihood often becomes an insurmountable to maintain prior employment. The large distance often results in a large ratio of returnees. The evicted people often face deterioration in the quality of living.

A study of Bhabrekar Nagar (Malad) evictions and resettlement have shown that of the 511 resettled families (total number of families evicted = approx. 12,5000)

(Source: Urban Displacement in Mumbai- An Overview of Policy, YUVA, 1998)

Furthermore it has been observed that,

In the absence of policy guidelines on Urban Resettlement and Rehabilitation, the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) were not provided with any support mechanisms to restore their livelihood. Also there were inordinate delays in the provision of public utilities such as electricity and public distribution system and the maintenance of services was poor. To some extent, absence of post relocation support mechanisms and strong market forces led to re-sale of sub-letting of tenements by PAPs to outsiders.

There was complete lack of monitoring and evaluation of the relocation process primarily due to the absence of policy guidelines of a responsible authority to perform this function. Given the multiplicity of agencies involved in the relocation process, there was a lot of uncertainty regarding who would be monitoring implementation activities, mainly post relocation work. The problem was further compounded by and inadequate database and absence of documentation.