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Govt. of West Bengal

Department of Women & Child Development and Social Welfare

The Department of Women Development & Social Welfare

The Department of Women Development and Social Welfare works towards the protection, equity and inclusion of populations that have been historically oppressed, neglected or excluded from development because of their gender, age, disability or situation. This includes women, senior citizens and other marginalized populations such as persons with disabilities, transgender persons, homeless persons and persons with drug / alcohol addiction.

The Department of Women Development and Social Welfare has the following offices: Directorate of Social Welfare, West Bengal Social Welfare Board, Office of the Controller for Vagrancy, Office of Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, West Bengal Commission for Women, West Bengal Women Development Undertaking and the Transgender Development Board.

The Department’s work has evolved along with the evolution of women’s rights. With a strong foundation laid by women specific laws, policies and schemes at the national and state level, the department is concentrating its energies on a critical demographic sector – adolescent girls.

  • Kanyashree Prakalpa, the state’s flagship social protection scheme for adolescent girls was launched in 2013. The Scheme’s objectives are to enhance the status of vulnerable girls between the ages of 13 and 19 through prevention of child marriage and promotion of education, financial inclusion and social inclusion, thereby ensuring that they complete the developmental tasks of adolescence in safety and wellbeing. Kanyashree Prakalpa is a model of good governance: its convergent operational platform, multi-layered monitoring mechanisms and end-to-end IT enablement (wbkanyashree.gov.in) promote citizen-centric services, efficient-service delivery, transparency and accountability. It has been nationally and internationally recognized as a good practice, and has received several prestigious awards.

  • The SABLA scheme works for improved health and nutritional status of adolescent girls in 7 districts in West Bengal, with a special focus on adolescent anemia. The Scheme also equips them with life-skills education and vocational skill sets, and provides them with relevant knowledge, awareness and information. SABLA and Kanyashree Prakalpa, the state’s flagship scheme for adolescent girls, implemented by the Department of Women Development, work in tandem – while out-of-school girls are encouraged to return to school and are assisted through the Kanyashree benefits, girls already in education and receiving Kanyashree are brought under the SABLA scheme.
  • To improve health and nutrition status of vulnerable and socially backward families, pregnant and lactating women receive cash through Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana, a conditional cash transfer scheme in the districts of Bankura, Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar.
  • While the West Bengal Women Development Undertaking has been implementing women-centric schemes since 1993, the State Mission Authority, formed under the National Mission of Empowerment of Women, is a more recent development. The Mission Authority is chaired by the Hon’ble Chief Minister of the State. Ministers of 21 key departments are members, and the Minister of the Women Development & Social Welfare Department is member-convener. The State Resource Centre for Women (SRCW) was established in 2012 to provide technical support to the Authority. Its primary task is to to strengthen inter- sectoral convergence and facilitate the process of coordinating all the women development and socio economic development programmes across the departments.
  • Although the central government’s Swawalamban provides vocational training to socially marginalized women and transgender persons, at the Chief Minister’s instance, the Department has designed and implements Swawalmban Special and MuktirAlo, which specifically supports those forced into commercial sex work and their children into alternative livelihoods.
  • While the state’s women form the major proportion of population served by the Department, the rights of certain smaller populations, are also the focus of the department. For homeless and destitute persons, the Directorate of Vagrancy runs 11 Vagrancy homes in various districts under the Bengal Vagrancy Act, and 45 shelters under the Shelter for Urban Homeless Scheme, a state sponsored scheme, in Kolkata, Howrah and Asansol Municipal areas. Apart from shelter and health services, inmates are provided vocational training so that they may return to living in society. Support and rehabilitation for drug addiction is provided though homes that are run by NGOs.
  • Social security is extended through Old Age Pensions, Widow Pensions and Disability Pensions. Apart from pensions, senior citizens in need can avail of shelter at various government homes. Under the West Bengal Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Rules, 2008, the department runs tribunals that hear cases of senior citizens who face harassment and eviction by their families.
  • The Commissioner of Disabilities works to ensure the rights of disabled persons of West Bengal, and monitors infringements and denial of their rights. The office of the Commissioner of Disabilities also implements several schemes and grants supporting rehabilitation, prosthetic aids, and scholarships and presides over awareness and advocacy events for disabled persons.
  • The Department’s “Little Star” Scheme provides medical, transport and housing facilities and other support such as bank loans to short-statured persons.
  • A major step forward has been the establishment of The West Bengal Transgender Development Board which was constituted in July 2015with the objective of improving the status of the highly marginalized and vulnerable transgender who are lagging behind on human development indices, especially education and employment. A State Coordination Committee has been constituted with members of several departments so that the challenges faced by the community – education, security, medical access, rehabilitation and welfare can be expedited. Mass awareness messages have already been broadcast over the radio, and the Commissioner of Kolkata Police has been requested to recruit transgender persons into the Civic Police Force.

The Constitution of India guarantees Fundamental Rights to all children in the country, and the Department of Child Development, Government of West Bengal is committed to ensuring that West Bengal's 2.99 crore citizens under the age of 18 (Census 2011) live healthy, safe childhoods that become strong foundations for dignified and productive adult lives.The Department's workis guided by the National Policy for Children 2013, and its responsibilities are to take affirmative measures - legislative, policy or otherwise - to promote and safeguard the right of all children to live and grow with equity, dignity, security and freedom.

In December 2014, the Department launched State Action Plan for Children 2014-2018 (SPAC), West Bengal being the first state in India to launch such a plan. The SPAC uses a child-rights framework to comprehensively map the responsibilities of key government departments that are tasked with affirmative action for children. These responsibilities are operationalized through the implementation of central and state government schemes, as well as specific actions taking into account West Bengal's local needs and critical issues.

SPAC is target-oriented;it has 54monitoring indicators closely aligned with India's national agenda for children and the country's commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (Agenda 2030).These targets are closely monitored through high-level bi-annual meetings chaired by the Chief Secretary of the state. Similar District Plans of Action (2014-18) have been launched in Malda and Purulia. UNICEF's West Bengal Office has been a key technical partner in the SPAC process.

The development of a SPAC portal is currently underway; the portal will be an integrated virtual space for all stakeholders for convergent monitoring of data from grassroots to state level, the dissemination of information as well as a space for conducting policy dialogue on the issues of children's rights.

The Department has been performing various activites through itself and Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) Directorate, Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking and Directorate of Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) Directorate.

One of the Department's key responsibilities is the management of theIntegrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme, India's flagship scheme addressing the nutritional and developmental needs of children below six years, as well as the nutritional requirement of pregnant and lactating women. Within the core package of services mandated by the scheme's design, the Department has introduced several measures to enhance services and to give impetus to the special nutritional and developmental needs of mothers and children in West Bengal.

Child protection is a core mandate of the Department of Child Development, and the Department implements the Integrated Child Protection Scheme under the aegis of the Directorate of Child Rights and Trafficking. The State Child Protection Society (SCPS), West Bengal was established in 2010, and the scheme is being implemented in 20 districts through District Child Protection Units (DCPU). All mandated structures (CWC & JJB) and statutory bodies (WBCPCR) have been established, and the state is continually expanding its institutional and non-institutional care for children under the various bodies (J.J. Homes etc, open Shelters) mandated under ICPS. In addition, the West Bengal Government's Cottage Scheme continues to run shelters for destitute children, where apart from food, clothing and medical care, children are provided education and vocational training.

One of West Bengal's critical concerns is human trafficking, and the Department of Child Development is the nodal department for the effective prevention, protection and prosecution for all forms of trafficking and exploitation in women and childrenin the state.The Department chairs the State Advisory Committee on Combating Trafficking for Commercial sexual exploitation, as well as the State Task Force on Prevention of Trafficking & RRRI of Children and Women. It has undertaken several important initiatives over the last few years to ensure inter-state and international cooperation and coordination in combating human trafficking in women and children. These initiatives include developing cross-state and cross-country operational guidelines, a state plan of action to combat trafficking, MOUs with major destination states, and continual capacity building of state and district stakeholders on the child rights, missing children and trafficked persons. Information management and data collection is effected through several databases. The TrackChild portal (www.trackthemissingchild.gov.in) provides a central interface for all stakeholders dealing with the cases of missing and recovered children.