A Development Agenda for Transgenders in Maharashtra

A Development Agenda for Transgenders in Maharashtra
PHOTO: FARHATULLAH BEIG/UNDP INDIA

Maharashtra has become the second state in India to set up a welfare board and the first, to set up a cultural institute dedicated to the transgender community. The decision of the state government comes after a 2013 public consultation supported by the United Nations Development Programme which brought thousands of transgenders to interface directly with the Chief Minister and other government representatives to discuss the specific welfare needs of the transgender community.  

Highlights

  • Maharashtra has become the second state in India to set up a welfare board and the first, to set up a cultural institute dedicated to the transgender community
  • The Welfare Board will provide avenues for formal education, expand employment and self-employment opportunities, run health programmes and provide legal help to the community for free
  • A 2013 public consultation supported by UNDP brought thousands of transgenders to interface directly with the Chief Minister and other government representatives to discuss the specific welfare needs of the transgender community
  • Since 2013, UNDP has partnered with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Maharashtra on issues related to women in sex work and provided inputs on policy towards setting up the transgender welfare boards
  • Since 2009, UNDP has supported efforts at greater recognition for the transgender community

A visible gender minority in India, the transgender community continues to remain on the fringes of development and welfare programmes, with little access to public goods and services. The decision of the Maharashtra government attempts to address these gaps in the state. It is expected that the Welfare Board will provide avenues for formal education, expand employment and self-employment opportunities, run health programmes and provide legal help to the community for free.

Welcoming the Maharashtra government’s steps, Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, transgender activist said, “The Transgender Welfare Board and Cultural Institute will help us gain access to various government entitlements and services and take forward the much neglected issue of rights for transgenders. The Board will also have community representation on it, which will ensure that transgenders are part of the policy decisions that affect them.”

In April 2014, the Supreme Court of India passed a landmark judgment re-affirming an individual’s right to choose their identity, as male, female or third gender. The Supreme Court judgement which cites a UNDP India study in its verdict, also instructed central and state governments to develop inclusive social welfare schemes, and ensure greater involvement of the transgender community in policy formulation.

Since 2009, UNDP has supported efforts at greater recognition for the transgender community. This has included convening stakeholder consultations, generating greater awareness in the legal community and strengthening community institutions. Public hearings in 12 states sought to draw attention to transgender rights and support to the National Legal Services Authority has aimed at enabling greater legal recognition for the community.

Since 2013, UNDP has partnered with the Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Maharashtra on issues related to women in sex work and provided inputs on policy towards setting up the transgender welfare boards and incorporating transgender in development schemes of the state.  

UNDP in India is also working with the state governments of Bihar and Chhattisgarh in setting up similar transgender welfare boards and providing technical support in how states can effectively roll out development initiatives targeting the transgender community. 

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