General Studies IICommissionsINSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONSRole of Women

National Commission for Women (NCW)


 Ms.Rekha Sharma has been nominated as Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) for another term of three years by the Central Government.

About National Commission for Women (NCW):

  • The National Commission for Women was set up in January 1992 under the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 ( Act No. 20 of 1990 of Govt.of India ) to :
    • Review the Constitutional and Legal safeguards for women ;
    • Recommend remedial legislative measures ;
    • Facilitate redressal of grievances and
    • Advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.
  • It is statutory body
  • Mandate, of the Commission is to initiate various steps to improve the status of women and worked for their economic empowerment during the year under report.
  • It took up the issue of child marriage, sponsored legal awareness programmes,Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalats and reviewed laws such as Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961, PNDT Act 1994, Indian Penal Code 1860 and the National Commission for Women Act, 1990 to make them more stringent and effective.
  • It organized workshops/consultations, constituted expert committees on economic empowerment of women, conducted workshops/seminars for gender awareness and took up publicity campaign against female foeticide, violence against women etc. in order to generate awareness in the society against these social evils.

Mission of NCW

To strive towards enabling women to achieve equality and equal participation in all spheres of life by securing her due rights and entitlements through suitable policy formulation, legislative measures, effective enforcement of laws, implementation of schemes/policies and devising strategies for solution of specific problems/situations arising out of discrimination and atrocities against women.

Composition of National Commission for Women

The Commission must consist of a minimum number of members which includes a chairperson, a member secretary, and the other five members.

Chairperson: The central government should nominate the chairperson.

Five members: The five members are also to be nominated by the central government from amongst the person of ability, integrity, and standing. They should possess experience in various fields like law or legislation, trade unionism, management of industry potential of women, women’s voluntary organization, education, administration, economic development, and social good-being.

Member Secretary: The Central Government also nominates member secretary. He/ she should be either an expert in the field of management, an organization, or an officer who is a member.

Constitutional provision

  • The Indian Constitution doesn’t contain any provision specifically made to favor women intrinsically.
  • Article 15 (3), Article 14 and Article 21 protect and safeguard women. They are more gender-neutral.

Major role of National Commission for Women:

  1. Investigation and Examination: NCW investigate and examine all the matters related to the safeguards provided for the women under the Constitution and other laws.
  2. Presentation of Reports: It table reports to the central government, every year and at such other times as the commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards
  3. Recommendation to government: Make in such reports and recommendations, for the effective accomplishment of those safeguards for enhancing the conditions of the women by the Union or any State.
  4. Legislative reviews: Review, every now and then, the current provisions of the Constitution and other laws distressing the women and prescribe alterations and suggest curative legislative measures meet any break, inadequacies and incapacity in such legislation.
  5. Cases of violation: Take up cases of infringement of the provisions of the Constitution and of other laws relating to the women with the relevant authorities.
  6. Suo motu notice: It looks into complaints, and takes Suo Motto notice of matters relating to – deprivation of women’s rights, Non-implementation of the laws and Non-compliance of the policy decisions guaranteeing the welfare for women society.
  7. Special Studies and Investigation: It conducts special studies or investigation on the concerning issues or circumstance emerging out of segregation and outrages against ladies and recognises the limitations in order to suggest techniques for their expulsion
  8. Research: It also undertakes promotional and educational research so as to propose ways of ensuring due representation of the women in all fields.

Functions of National Commission for Women

  • Inquiry and Investigation

The National Commission of Women enjoys the powers of a civil court. It investigates and examines the matters related to the safeguards ensured for feminine society under the Constitution of India. It took complaints suo moto notice of issues related to the non- implementation of laws and non- enforcement of laws and non -compliance of policy decisions, guidelines enacted and aimed at mitigating hardships ensuring the welfare and then take up issues arising out of matter with the concerned authorities.

  • Action Research

NCW members take part in the planning process of socio-economic development of women, propose measures to encourage their representation in all spheres, and review their advancement. It also examines the safeguards provided for women in the Constitution and other laws study their working, recommend amendments to meet any inadequacies or deficiencies, and advocate measures for effective implementation.

  • Legal Intervention

The Parivarik Mahila Lok Adalat, (PMLA) is an innovative component with its roots in the traditional Nyaya Panchayats. It is created by NCW for the redressal and speedy disposal of cases. It has taken up 7500 cases so far. The essential feature of PMLA is cordial mutual settlement and flexibility in implementation, aiming to empower women in the justice delivery mechanism.

Powers Limitations
  Provide consultation on all major policy matters that affect women. Issuing summons for the examination of documents and the witnesses. It has the power to make any public record. Receiving evidence on affidavits Discovery and production of documents Summoning and enforcementNot concrete powers: The NCW is only recommendatory and has no power to enforce its decisions. Often it takes action only if the issues are brought to light. Legal powers: Commission lacks constitutional status, and thus has no legal powers to summon police officers or witnesses. Less funding: NCW’s functions are dependent on the grants offered by the central government. Financial assistance provided to the Commission is very less to cater to its needs. Political interference: It does not have the power to choose its own members.

Steps need to be taken:

  1. Staff selection: Commission must be granted the power of selecting its own members. The members should be chosen without any prejudice and should have fair knowledge of law and understands the society and human behaviour.
  2. Awareness generation: More awareness has to be created especially among the rural women about the existence of the Commission. The Commission can employ a person at the district level to bring into light the atrocities occurring at the district level.
  3. Legal powers: Functioning of the NCW has to be strengthened and given more legal powers as part of any effort to strengthen the laws for safety of women at the workplace. The chairperson of NCW should be given the status of the Union Cabinet Minister and the members that of minister of state.
  4. Funding: Centre must devolve more funds to NCW. NCW should have an independent budget and must not be dependent on the Women and Child Development Ministry for funds.

Final thought:

Though the NCW have done some good work for the women in India, the above mentioned shortcomings must be addressed. NCW was instrumental in various campaigns, for example, against triple talaq. But at numerous times the Commission has not been able to come up to the expectations of women in India. Empowering NCW with enough powers can help in making it more efficient.

List of Women-Specific Legislation

There are multiple laws that have been passed for the safety and rights of women in India. Given below is a list of few such laws:

  • The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956
  • The Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of 1961) (Amended in 1986)
  • The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1988)
  • The Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (PREVENTION, PROHIBITION and REDRESSAL) Act, 2013
  • The Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2013
  • Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005
  • The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986

You can find many articles on ROLE OF WOMEN (part of GS I) and INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS (part of GS II) in our website. Go through these articles share with your friends and post your views in comment section.

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