The Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) which is a pan-India maternity benefit programme has been criticised for its exclusionary nature. It has led to single women and young brides being left out of its purview.
Issues with the Scheme
Registration for the scheme requires an applicant to provide her husband’s Aadhaar details along with her own. It affects single women, including unwed mothers, deserted wives and widows.
The form also requires separate undertakings on “the first living child” from the woman and her husband.
A mother seeking benefits needs to provide address proof of her marital home. It is challenging for a newlywed expecting a child and often residing in her natal home during pregnancy.
The scheme requires an applicant to be at least 19 years old which leaves out younger brides, who get married at the legal age of 18 years but hesitate in getting their marriages registered.
30-35% of first-time mothers are under the age of 18 years.
The documentation work leaves out many women living on the margins such as sex workers, women in custody, migrant and those living in post-conflict situations. They all are unable to claim benefits even though they are most in need of monetary compensation.
Women have to pay a hefty bribe during the application process. It goes as high as ₹500/- for each of the three forms so it is not easy for the women coming from financially weaker sections.
There is a need for reviewing the scheme and making it universal by removing restrictions on the number of children as well as including all women, whether they are in the formal or informal sector, engaged in paid or unpaid work.
The sum promised should be at least on par with minimum wages for women in self-employment, unpaid work, or working for less than minimum wages.
Activists and grassroots workers must make a formal representation to the government highlighting their concerns so that corrective actions can be taken.