ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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National Commission for Women

An Overview of Its Performance

The paper attempts an assessment of the National Commission for Women, which was created in 1992 as an autonomous apex body to monitor and influence state policies with regard to women. It examines the State's approach to women's issues through the evolution of national mechanisms as also through an understanding of the engagement of women's movements with the state, both by way of challenging and participating in its institutions. It argues that the willingness to intervene on behalf of women is determined by the interests of the state and political actors in securing and maintaining power. The questions that women's movements face are: to what extent do these national machineries effectively address the issues for which they had been created and to what extent are they able to bring in changes in the culture and practices of the bureaucratic structures of the state.

The study was supported under the UGC Major Research Project Grant and later by the Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi. I am thankful to all the activists from various women’s organisations who readily agreed to share their experiences of working with the National Commission for Women. I am especially indebted to Saheli, AIDWA, NFIW and CWDS for allowing me to go through the fi les of their correspondence with the commission. I am also thankful to the chairpersons, members, member secretaries and counsellors of the commission who gave me time and agreed to be interviewed. Very special thanks to Uma Chakravarti for her suggestions at various stages of this work. I would also like to thank Vani Subramanian and Mary E John for encouraging me to pursue this study.

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