On the occasion of International Women's Day, Andhra Pradesh government today announced a number of schemes aimed at their empowerment, including opening an exclusive toll-free helpline '181' for women in distress.
Making a special statement in the Legislative Assembly, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said, "non-combat training for girls would be made compulsory while 'Kanya Sakthi' teams would be set up in all junior and degree colleges in the state."
A mobile application 'Abhayam' would be launched soon, and a police officer of Inspector General rank would be appointed exclusively for women's security, Naidu said.
"We will expand and strengthen SHE teams to prevent eve-teasing and harassment of women. My government will aim at ending discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensure equal participation and opportunities in all spheres of life," he said.
"I strongly believe that there is no greater investment in our strong future as we strive towards building a Smart Andhra Pradesh," the Chief Minister said.
Fast track courts would be set up for expediting disposal of cases related to crime against women and girls, he said.
The other schemes Naidu announced on Women's Day include - introduction of free master health check-up for women in the 35+ age group through a 'Master Health Card' with special focus on early diagnosis and treatment of non-communicable diseases, breast and cervical cancer and lifestyle diseases.
He also announced free tele-ultrasonography services in 223 health facilities for screening of pregnant women, mother and child hospitals with 100 beds each to be made operational within 60 days.
The Chief Minister also said a legislation would be brought in for compulsory registration of girls' and working women's hostels, compulsory establishment of standing committees for women welfare and protection in all local bodies.
The government would facilitate compulsory registration of marriages in all gram panchayats and municipal wards to eliminate harmful practices like child marriage, Naidu said.
Extending greetings to women on the occasion, the Chief Minister administered a pledge to the MLAs that they would help women and girls achieve their ambitions, challenge conscious and unconscious bias, call for gender-balanced leadership, value women and men's contributions equally and to create inclusive flexible cultures.