Krishna Tirath, Minister of State (I/C), Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD) inaugurated the Vatsalya Mela at Dilli Haat here. Speaking at the occasion, Smt. Tirath said that the Vatsalya Mela is celebrated every year since the last six years to sensitise the people and spread awareness and information about the various schemes of the Ministry taken up for the development of women and children. At the Mela various stalls have been set up to explain in detail the various facets of the schemes of the WCD Ministry and how the benefits can be availed. Halls providing information on the ICDS, SABLA, IGMSY, and the activities of various organizations associated with it such as CARA, NIPCCD, NCW, NCPCR, CSWB, NMEW, RMK etc have been set up at the Mela. Various NGOs and organizations such as UN Women, UNDP, UNESCO and Nehru Yuva Kendra have come together with this initiative of the M/o WCD to spread awareness about the issues related to empowerment of women and growth and development of the children, the Minister informed. The WCD Minister also stated that the Ministry has framed legislation such as the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act 2012 in recognition of the needs of the society to fight the growing crime against children in the domestic and other settings. The rules have been notified from today with which the Act comes into force, she said. She also noted that the Protection of Women from Harassment at Workplace Bill has been passed by the Lok Sabha and will be introduced in the Rajya Sabha in the next session. Amendments are also being brought to the Juvenile Justice Act which will make it more strong, she stated. These also reflect the demand of the society to deal with crimes against women and children, she noted. The Minister stated that the pilot projects of the National Mission for Empowerment of Women in Kamrup and Pali districts which help to converge schemes of various other ministers towards empowerment of women, have been successful to create ‘Ahimsa Messengers’ which will help women fight against such societal evils as dowry, female foeticide, child marriage, domestic violence, etc. The 6 day Vatslya Mela, Smt. Tirath said is inaugurated to mark the birth anniversary of Pandit Nehru, 14th November, which is also celebrated as Children’s Day. Its closing ceremony on 19th November which marks the birth anniversary of the first woman Prime Minister of the country, Smt. Indira Gandhi shall be celebrated as ‘Shakti Diwas’ , the Minister noted. The Minister also stated that a Women’s Helpline on the lines of Childline is on the anvil. In his opening address, Shri Prem Narain, Secretary, WCD stated that the 6 day event will have events such as slogan writing competition every day on various themes provided by the Ministry, baby shows, panel discussion on issues such as Corporate Social Responsibility, ‘nari ki chaupal’ where contemporary issues on women will be debated and discussed, street plays, quizzes, theatre presentations, musical play, extempore speech etc., in addition to showcasing the activities of the Ministry and spreading awareness on its various schemes. The twin theme for this year’s Mela is ‘Child Rights’ and ‘Safety & Protection of Women’, the Secretary mentioned. Also present at the opening function were representatives from UN Women, UNDP, UNESCO, Nehru Yuvak Kendra, FICCI Ladies Organisation and Chairperson of CSWB.