SHILLONG, FEB 16: The Congress on Thursday alleged the ruling National Peopleâ€™s Party (NPP) has presented a poor report card on women issues plaguing the state.
Addressing media persons, AICC media coordinator Bobbeeta Sharma said,â€œAlthough the 2018 manifesto of NPP promised empowerment of women in the state, yet the data tells us another story.â€
She said that the 5th round of the National Family and Health Survey (NFHS-5 2019-20) has exposed the condition of healthcare in Meghalaya regarding maternal and child health, child vaccinations, and other aspects.
Only 26% of children under the age of 12 months have received any immunization. Maternal Mortality rate is 197 per 100000. Infant Mortality Rate stands at 34 per thousand.
â€œThe NPP has claimed that Institutional Delivery in the State has gone up to 64% but latest data from NFHS 5 shows that Institutional delivery in the state is only 58% (as per NHFS) which is much lower than the national average of 88.6% (NHFS 5),â€ Sharma said.
â€œ46.5% of children are stunted (height for age ration due to lack of nutrition) (NFHS 5). The rates of teenage pregnancy are 7.9% in the state which is much higher than the national average of 6.8%. Meghalaya also has a high rate of child marriage at 16.6%,â€ she added.
Stating that NPP had announced that it will take steps to decrease the school drop-out rate in the state, the AICC leader said, â€œHowever, the Gross Enrolment Ratio in 2019-20 for Meghalaya remains lower than the other North-Eastern states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur,â€ adding â€œThe NPP promised in 2018 to build a higher secondary school in every block and sub-division and strengthen infrastructure of existing schools. There has been little progress on this front.â€
She also referred to the statement of the Home Minister of Meghalaya in the Assembly that around one-third of the crimes committed against women in the state were committed against girls under the age of 18 and said according to NCRB data, crimes against women in Meghalaya have been higher than its peer states of the North-Eastern part with similar population.
The 2021 NCRB data shows the number of cases of crimes against women in Meghalaya is 685 which is much higher than in other North-Eastern states, she said while adding that human trafficking cases have not been controlled by the state and central governments despite Meghalaya sharing an international border.
Sharma said the party is sensitive to the need of women of Meghalaya to have a meaningful source of income with which they will be able to sustain themselves and their family.
â€œWe understand that the needs of women change across age groups and we will work with women for their empowerment. Keeping this in mind Congress Party has proposed initiatives to improve womenâ€™s lives,â€ she said.
She said that the Congress is committed to providing free health care for all citizens under our soon to be unveiled Free Health Care Scheme, to undertake special entrepreneurship training programmes for women to make them self- sufficient and financially independent and extending a monthly income of Rs 3000 to all single mothers below the poverty line.
â€œWe are committed to providing free education to every girl child in Meghalaya from Kindergarten to XII standard. This initiative of ours will go a long way in empowering every girl-child to fulfill their dreams, ambitions and aspirations. We will provide every BPL household with quality roofing materials in a phased implementation,â€ she said.
The Congress is fielding as many as 10 women candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections.
The AICC leader said the Congress has always encouraged women in politics.
The party have had women MLAs, women cabinet ministers in Meghalaya, working president at party level, woman Rajya Sabha MP, Member of National Women Commission’s from Meghalaya.
â€œCongress Party acknowledges the importance of women’s participation in the decision making process in governance.
This time in Meghalaya the Congress Party has fielded ten women candidates who are accomplished women in their own right. The youngest is 28 years old. We are happy that they have come forward to serve the people of Meghalaya through the Congress Party,â€ she said