Bhubaneswar (Odisha) : Odisha is home to over five lakh women with disabilities but only around 10 per cent of them are skilled and employed.
Even as both the State and Central Governments are implementing various schemes to train and employ them in various trades under the ‘Skill India’ initiative of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the plans have not benefited many women with disabilities. Currently, majority of women undergoing vocational training are orthopaedically challenged while those with intellectual and multiple disabilities are left out. According to the 2011 Census, 12,44,402 people with disabilities in the State include 5,69,627 women in the employable age of 15 to 59 years. For this population of 5.6 lakh women, the Central and State Governments have been offering skill development and vocational training programmes through industrial training institutes (ITIs), community colleges and vocational rehabilitation centres (VRCs) under various schemes.
After a decade-long demand, the State Government this year opened a special ITI for disabled persons at Barang offering one year computer training course and a special hostel for differently-abled working women in Bhubaneswar. All these training centres have 30 per cent reservation for women candidates.
Activists, however, feel that the vocational training programmes are not reaching to many women due to lack of access, disability certificates, transportation facilities and security concerns of family members.
Disability rights activist Sruti Mohapatra said many trades offered to the women are outdated and low on employability. Vocational trades like agarbati, chalk and candle making and phenyl preparation provide livelihood to women, but the income is very less. “Currently, only trades like computer and beautician training and tailoring are helping the women earn a decent livelihood, but these trades require a certain level of literacy. For the illiterate, Government should introduce new trades after exploring the market requirement,” she said.
Former secretary of Odisha Association for Blind Sanyas Behera said none of the skill development programmes is tailored for blind girl.
Principal Secretary of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disability Niten Chandra, however, refuted the claims and said the State Government is doing its part in improving the skills of women with disabilities.
“There are many tribal women in districts like Keonjhar and Nabarangpur who have benefited from the programmes,” he said and added that `10,000 is being provided to handicapped women who form an SHG to take up any economic activity under Mission Kshyamata.
Note: News shared for public awareness with reference from the information provided at online news portals.