The long-standing conflict in Jammu and Kashmir has seriously affected the population, with women suffering the most: physically, psychologically, socially and economically. But the state, as well as the central government, have taken a number of important policy measures to empower women in the valley to rethink their problems and solve their problems with appropriate solutions. Gianna Ganci, a member of the European Parliament from Italy, prepared a report according to which one of the main causes of the suffering of women in the valley is a patriarchal society, leading to a stereotypical mentality, gender discrimination, different types of objectification, and in this sense the valley is no different from the rest of India. But ironically, the women of Kashmir are destined to face even more victimization as natives of a violent conflict zone.
“Resilience and empowerment are intertwined. Forced and acquired resilience is a long discussion, but quite understandable. Empowerment increases resilience, and requires both internal and external support. The women of the valley are resilient, but more because of the inherent hardships they face and not because of the measures the system is taking to empower them” – the Asian News International report was quoted as saying.
For example, in order to provide loans to poor women affected by violence, the Jammu and Kashmir Women’s Development Corporation has been designated the channelling agency of Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. Those below the poverty line will receive microloans at an interest rate of 9.5% versus an 8 percent interest rate charged by Rashtriya Mahila Kosh. The corporation could charge the beneficiaries at 12% per annum, but given the economic situation of the country’s poor female artisans, the Board of Directors set the same rate at 9.5%.
Another example of government intervention in this stalemate is the Swayam Sidha Women’s Empowerment Program (SWEP). It is a comprehensive scheme for the empowerment of women and is mainly designed to form women into self-help groups,
According to Gianna Ganci, the women of Kashmir have become hardy and have learned to live with their destiny, preserving the culture and traditions of Kashmir. After decades of suffering in the conflict zone, the old generation has adapted to it, but at the same time they fear for the next generation, their daughters and granddaughters. At the state level, their fate is just as important. Women are a pillar of society and government should focus on girls’ education, health issues, especially women’s mental health.
“I emphasize that in this case the results will be amazing, beyond imagination. Incentive skills development programs, especially aimed at women with no interest or very low interest rates, are another very important way of empowerment. Empowerment in education, health and economics, legal and psychosocial counselling, combined with campaigns against stereotypical patriarchal mentality, can change the future of the valley”, – said a member of the European Parliament from Italy.
Natalia Sviderska, Democratic Action NGO