Director of Social Welfare, Ngangom Uttam, has called for recommendations to enhance the draft gender policy produced by the Manipur State Commission for Women, prior to its official adoption. The commission and the department are seeking recommendations from experts and individuals for improving the draft policy, which was discussed at a consultation program on gender policy held at Hotel Classic, North AOC, organized by Women Action for Development (WAD) with the theme “Urgent need of Gender Policy in Manipur”.
Ng Uttam emphasized that feedback from the consultation will be reviewed to consider incorporating it into the draft policy, but he also encouraged experts and individuals to share their suggestions with either the Women’s Commission or his department. In 2021, the Manipur Commission for Women developed the initial draft and submitted it to the government for review by a dedicated committee. The draft policy was uploaded on the commission’s website for the public to study, and the first round of discussion on the draft at the Secretariat level has already been held.
According to Ng Uttam, a subcommittee at the Director level has been established to make necessary changes to the draft policy in response to current needs, as it was originally created in 2021. While the subcommittee has held its first round of meetings, their conclusions were inconclusive. He emphasized that the department is receptive to input from the public and encourages suggestions for improving the draft policy.
Ng Uttam emphasized the need for the draft policy to address the issue of transgenders to be more inclusive. He also mentioned that Manipur was the first and only state in India to open a dedicated quarantine centre for transgenders during the pandemic. He believes that the policy should cover all areas, including education, health, employment, skill development, entrepreneurship, etc.
In addition, two dedicated children’s homes for trans-boys and trans-girls have been opened this year, alongside a de-addiction centre for trans persons in Khurai, according to Ng Uttam. The Social Welfare’s Budget for 2023-24 also includes a gender-responsive budget, which was first included in the previous budget. Ng Uttam highlighted that all departments in Manipur have gender budget cells, which makes Manipur the first state in the Northeast to have such an inclusive approach to budgeting.
Mangsatabam Sobita, who was present at the programme on behalf of Women Action for Development (WAD), urged the public, academicians, and activists to send their suggestions and recommendations to make the draft policy complete and inclusive. She emphasized that while women in Manipur are known for their bravery and achievements in almost every field, they still face many issues and problems every day. While there is some representation of women in policymaking and administration, there is still a lack of policies that protect and address their issues, she added.
Sobita continued that the state urgently needs a gender policy, which is also one of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Chairperson of the Manipur State Commission for Women, Ulka, along with several other notable figures such as Manipur University Economics Professor Maisnam and Principal of DM College of Arts Prof Ch Sheelaramani, as well as representatives from NGOs, research scholars, and civil bodies, also attended the programme.