Women Empowerment in Himachal Pradesh: Analyzing Government Initiatives vs. Ground Realities



Women empowerment is still a distant dream, despite the several efforts made  by the Himachal Pradesh Government for the upliftment of women.” Do you agree with this statement? (HPAS Mains Question Paper 2022 – GS 2, Q.28)

According to the 2011 Indian Census, the population of women in Himachal Pradesh was 3,503,492, accounting for approximately 49.72% of the state’s total population.

Despite numerous efforts, gender equality and women’s empowerment remain significant challenges in Himachal Pradesh.


  • Gender-based violence: Even though Himachal Pradesh is one of the safest states in India for women, gender-based violence remains a significant issue. Domestic violence, sexual harassment, and rape continue to be issues for women in the state. The state recorded 1,133 crimes against women in 2019, according to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), including 17 cases of rape and 218 cases of domestic violence.
  • Inequitable access to education: Despite Himachal Pradesh’s high literacy rate, girls from rural and marginalised communities face significant educational barriers. Because of poverty, early marriage, or a lack of access to schools, many girls drop out of school. The quality of education available to girls in some areas is also lower than that open to boys.
  • Women in Himachal Pradesh have limited opportunities for formal employment, particularly in rural areas, even though women’s participation in the workforce is critical to their empowerment. Women are frequently confined to low-paying and low-skilled jobs in the informal sector, such as agriculture and household work, and are paid less for the same work than men.
  • Political under-representation: While Himachal Pradesh has a relatively high representation of women in politics compared to other states, women continue to be underrepresented in political leadership positions. Women make up only 13.8% of the seats in the state legislature, and the state has never had a female chief minister.
  • Patriarchal values and norms dominate Himachal Pradesh society, limiting women’s freedom and autonomy. Women are frequently expected to conform to traditional gender roles, such as early marriage, childbearing, and family care. These norms keep women from pursuing education and careers critical to their empowerment.

Himachal Pradesh’s government has implemented several schemes and programmes to promote women’s empowerment in the state. Here are a couple of examples:

Mahila Shakti Kendra:

  • It aims to empower rural women through community involvement, capacity building, and economic empowerment. Mahila Shakti Kendras (women’s power centres) are established in each state block under this scheme to provide support services to rural women.

Women State Home Mashobra: 

  • The primary purpose of the scheme is to provide free shelter, food, clothing, education, health and medicines, counselling and vocational training to young girls, widows, deserted, destitute and women in mortal danger. At present, children inmates are living in a State home, Mashobra.

One Stop Centre:

  • One Stop Centre is a Central Sponsored Scheme. The main objectives of the scheme are to provide integrated support and assistance to women affected by violence in private and public spaces under one roof and to facilitate immediate, emergency and non-emergency access to a range of services, including medical, legal, psychological and counselling support. Presently, one “One Stop Centre” has been set up in the quarter of each District in Himachal Pradesh. 

Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana:

  • Under this programme, a marriage grant of 51,000 is given to the guardians of needy girls for their marriages, provided their annual income does not exceed 35,000.

Sashakat Mahila Yojana:

  • This scheme covers 11-45 years of females and focuses on the promotion of socio-economic empowerment of rural women by creating awareness about their rights and -facilitating institutional support for enabling them to realise their rights and develop/utilise their full potential. One-time seed money of 35,000 per SHG per development block is granted for income-generating activities to make them self-reliant, and award money of 5,000 per girl child is presented to 5 topper girls each from 10th and 12th board examination basis from each district.

Mukhya Mantri Vishesh Mahila Utthan Yojana: 

  • This scheme gives financial aid to families with girl children to promote their education and overall development.

Women Self-Help Groups (SHGs): 

  • To encourage women’s economic empowerment, the state government has encouraged forming women’s self-help groups. These organisations provide women with credit, training, and assistance in starting and running their businesses.

Beti Hai Anmol Scheme:

  • This scheme encourages families to save for their daughters’ education and marriage, intending to improve the state’s gender ratio. Under this programme, families are given financial assistance to open a bank account in their daughter’s name and make regular deposits.

Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana:

  • The Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana is a government scheme that provides financial assistance to poor girls for marriage.

Swavalamban Scheme: 

  • This scheme aims to provide financial assistance to women who want to start their businesses. The programme provides women entrepreneurs with low-interest loans and training and counselling.

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