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Despite being a conflict zone, major interventions taken by govt empowering Kashmiri women: Report

Decades-long conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has badly affected the people, with women being the worst sufferers, physically, psychologically, socially and economically.
But the state, as well as the Central government, has taken some major policy interventions for the empowerment of females in the Valley to rethink their plights and address their concerns with appropriate decisions.
Gianna Gancia, a member of the European Parliament from Italy, said in a report published in Oasis Reporter that one of the main reasons for women suffering in the valley is patriarchal society resulting in stereotype mentality, gender discrimination, observing woman as an object and in that sense Valley is no different from rest of India, ironically women in the Valley are destined to face more victimisation as natives of a hardened conflict zone.
“Resilience and empowerment are interrelated. Forced and acquired resilience is a long debate but understandable. Empowerment enhances resilience and empowerment needs internal and external support both. Women of the Valley are resilient but more because of inherent hardship being faced by them rather than measures taken by the system for their empowerment,” Gancia said in the report.
For instance, to provide loans to the poor women affected by the violence, the Jammu and Kashmir Women Development Corporation has been declared a channelising agency of Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. Those below the poverty level would get microloans at an interest rate of 9.5 per cent as against an interest rate of 8 per cent charged by Rashtriya Mahila Kosh.
The corporation could charge interest at 12 per cent per annum from the beneficiaries but keeping in view the economic condition of the poor women artisans of the state; the Board of Directors has fixed the same at 9.5 per cent.
The Swayam Sidha women empowerment programme (SWEP) is another example of government intervention. The J&K State Women’s Development Corporation has been appointed as a nodal agency by the administrative department, like, Social Welfare Department Government of Jammu and Kashmir to implement the scheme of Swayam Sidha Women Empowerment Programme (SWEP) in J&K.
It is an integrated scheme for women’s empowerment and is basically designed for the formation of women into Self Help Groups (SHGs) wherein awareness and confidence will be generated in them both economically and socially regarding their status, health, nutrition, education, sanitation, legal rights, upliftment, control over resources, saving habits, access to microcredit and involvement in local-level planning.
The women of the Valley have become resilient and have learned to live with their destiny preserving the culture and traditions of Kashmir, said Gancia, adding that after decades of suffering in a conflict zone the old generation has adapted to it but at the same time they fear for the next generation.
Women are the pillars of the social fabric, the Parliamentarian said further and the government needs to focus towards the education of girl child, health issues, especially mental health issues of women.
“I stress the results will be striking, beyond imagination. Incentive-based skill development programmes, especially, designed for women with no interest or very low-interest rates are yet another very important way of empowerment,” she said.
“With educational, health and economic empowerment, legal and psychosocial counselling aligned with campaigns against stereotype patriarchal mentality can change the future of the valley,” Gancia added further in the report.

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