Punjab is recognized as a state where women’s empowerment has been always on the priority list of the state government. The State is influenced by the preaching of great Gurus and Saints, who had particularly stressed upon the equality of women and preached against the child marriages, female foeticide, sati pratha and illiteracy among the women.
To empower the Schedule Caste girls or women in the State and to uplift their educational, social and economic status, state government has implemented a number of programmes and schemes.
The Shagun scheme, started by Punjab government with effect from April 1, 1997 played a vital role in helping the underprivileged families at the time of their girl’s marriage. To ensure timely delivery of benefits, 100 percent amount under this welfare scheme is being credited to the accounts of beneficiaries using on-line management.
A budget of Rs.98 Crore has been earmarked for Shagun scheme for the financial year 2015-16 and Punjab Government has already provided Rs.60.17 crore to 40,105 beneficiaries under Shagan Scheme. Till September 2015, Rs.41.43 crore has been transferred into accounts of 27611 beneficiaries, whereas, in the month of October and November 2015 Rs.18.74 crore has been credited into the 12494 beneficiaries’ accounts.
During financial year of 2012-13, the Punjab Government had covered 82,267 beneficiaries under this ambitious scheme and Rs. 124.30 crore were released. Similarly during financial year 2013-14 total 80,810 beneficiaries were covered by releasing grant of RS.121.21 crore , whereas during the financial year 2014-15, in total 58,362 beneficiaries under Shagun Scheme were released grant of 87.54 crore.
Financial assistance of Rs.15000 is being provided under Shagan Scheme to Schedule Casts, backward class, Christians, economically weaker section and widows of any casts with the minimum age of 18 years on the occasion of their marriage. To avail the benefit under this scheme annual income of the family should not be more than Rs.32,790.