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Mrs. Namita Panda

Women constitute half of the civilization. But the apathy of the women is continuously deteriorated. Though in the new millennium woman's access to social and material resources within the family, community and society, or her authority or power within the family/community or her position in the social system is continuously increased. But they are still in backward region in the degree of autonomy, decision-making and making personal choices. They are the victims of many social autocracies and male chauvinism said Mrs.Namita Panda Chairman of Orissa Mahila Commission in an exclusive interview to Orissadiary Bhubaneswar Bureau Chief Ms. Sasmita Rout .

Orissadiary: After appointed as the Chairman of the Mahila Commission what are the agendas you have planned?

Mrs.Namita Panda: The Mahila Commission is a statuary body. Its main function is to help the destitute women in the society. For the present year, we have made an agenda to visit every district of Orissa to provide right, justice to every deprived woman. The government has sanctioned Rupees five lakh for DNA test, which we are yet to receive. This year I have written to the government for early provision of said money. The DNA test will help us to identify the convict of unwed mother. The most important agenda is to start compulsory registration of marriages from this year.

Orissadiary: In your opinion, what are the major reasons for growing atrocities against woman?

Mrs.Namita Panda: Illiteracy, poverty and unemployment are most important factors for inequality and deprivation of rights. Most of the people are illiterate because of poverty. Due to poverty the poor father is not able to give dowry. Again dowry is another most important problem in this state. Secondly the unwed mothers’ problem is also add to the cause.

Orissadiary: What steps has been taken by Mahila Commission to change policies to empower women?

Mrs.Namita Panda: We are not the authority to change the policies. It’s the government who makes the policy. We only give written suggestions to government for changing policies and implementing them. But, the Govt. has not accepted any of our proposals. There are number of programs and policies pending with the Govt. But there is no practical implementation. The empowerment of women will increase with implementation of those policies.

Orissadiary: For generating more revenue, the Govt. has planned to open more liquor shops in the state. But the Mahila Commission has opposed to this proposal and had taken out rallies. Why it opposed to the proposal?

Mrs.Namita Panda: The Govt. can generate more revenues in different ways. Selling liquor is not the only source to generate revenue. So the Commission took out rallies to ban the liquor shops everywhere in the state. We feel that the ban of liquor shop will result in decrease in drinking habits of people. For example, when a husband earns Rs 50/- per day and drinks liquor of Rs 40/-, from where he will feed his family. Again the husband will come late in night and beat the wife. So our main motto is to empower the women for peaceful living.

Orissadiary: Dowry-deaths are increasing more day by day, what step Mahila Commission has taken to solve this problem?

Mrs.Namita Panda: This is not the duty of Mahila Commission only; it is also the duty of parents of bride and groom, leaders of political parties, NGOs and the intellectuals of the society. The Commission is only creating awareness among the people.

Orissadiary: After 73rd Amendment, 33% women have been elected in Panchayat level elections, but they are acting as only rubber stamps. Their husbands or father are handling the authority and real power. What is your comment?

Mrs.Namita Panda:  I do not agree to this statement. Biju Patanaik had started “Tri Stariya Panachayat Raj” to empower the rural women. Our main aim is to empower the women, who are staying within four wall of the house and are deprived of basic rights. They are completely unaware of their duties, rights and responsibilities. If the husband, father or brother helps to achieve this goal in this regard, what is wrong with it? After one or two year she learns automatically how to shoulder the responsibilities.

Orissadiary: In your opinion, who is more responsible for gender discrimination and female atrocities, man or woman?

Mrs.Namita Panda: I don’t think so. Both male and female have equal responsibility in the society in all aspects. I can’t say that she is the cause of torture. It depends and varies from situation to situation. But in some cases, women are also responsible.

Orissadiary: Do you feel any requirement of Male Commission at par with Women Commission in the Society?

Mrs.Namita Panda: There is no doubt that men are also tortured and humiliated by the women in the society. But their statistics is very negligible i.e 4-5 % only. The assembly had given one question to me regarding viability of Male Commission. But I refused the question because there is Human Rights Commission to look after such sporadic cases of male torture.

Orissadiary: The general people have a notion that this Commission is operative only in Metros like Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, and is not for the rural mass. What do you say about this?

Mrs.Namita Panda: I do not favor this statement. We have already made an agenda to visit every district of Orissa. We go to interior rural areas in regular intervals. Recently we had gone to interior part of Bhadrak District.

Sasmita Rout

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