Women are an integral part of Indian history and culture. Right from Hindu mythology to India’s struggle for independence to being the fastest growing economy of the world, women have played very strong and decisive role in shaping narratives across capacities. India, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken that legacy forward and entrusted women with responsibilities that they are capable of shouldering. There have been concerted efforts to ensure meaningful representation across professions and empowerment of women at the lower rung of the social strata. These initiatives are beyond the realms of gender equality. They espouse to motivate women to take up fresh challenges and inspire women to chase their dreams in a secure environment.
Unlike some leaders who have trivialized the role of Defence Minister on account of her gender, the Narendra Modi Government has gone out of its way to enlarge women’s role in highest rungs of decision making in the country. The policy interventions by the government have equipped and empowered women to take on leadership roles in their communities, organisations and households. This is a clear departure from the tokenism practiced by the UPA. Right from ignoring issues related lack of women representation within the party to promoting daughters and wives of well-known politicians, there was little for self-made women in the era. Women need not be restricted to issues related to women. We need to channel their capabilities beyond their gender, and this has been practiced by the Modi Government in both, spirit and action.
Representation for All
• With 9 women in the Council of Ministers, two women in the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) (a first for India) including the first full-time defence Minister, the leadership is actively breaking the glass ceiling for women by its own actions. For the common citizens, this representation is not limited to the particular name or number. It sends out a very encouraging signal to the larger population, i.e., it is possible for women from common families, sans any famous surname, to go out and make a mark for themselves solely based on their capability and competency.
• On multiple occasions it was observed that due to lack of training, decision-making for Elected Women Representatives (EWRs) of Panchayats had continued to be driven by male family members. This defeated the purpose of 33% reservation for women in the panchayat bodies. The Ministry of Women & Child Development launched a nation-wide training programme for Elected Women representatives (EWRs) of Panchayats with the objective to enhance their capacity, capability and skill in governance and administration of villages
• The Indian female CEO of a unicorn startup hails from a common family. This is significant because young girls in India are able to chase their dreams with complete support from policy and lawmakers.
• One of the largest angel investor clubs in the country has noted that the number of ideas coming from women has increased from 10% (2014) to 30% (2018).
• In 2018, three women were inducted as fighter-pilots in the Indian Air Force. For every young girl who was conditioned to believe she has gender-based constraints that prevented her from fighting for her motherland, this was a welcome departure.
Empowerment for All
• Over 9 crore women constituting over 74% of the beneficiaries, have benefitted jointly from Mudra & Stand-Up India. These women entrepreneurs are India’s social ambassadors of women empowerment. They are not only financially independent, they are also in a position to support more women by creating livelihood opportunities for them.
• A lot of girls would drop out of school or be absent during menstruation due to lack of sanitation facilities. Significant increase in enrollment of girls in secondary schools has been observed, primarily due to access to toilets at school. As per Unified District Information System for Education (U-DISE) 2015-16, the girl’s enrolment in secondary education has increased to 80.97% against 76% in 2013-14.
• By giving access to a basic utility like cooking gas, we have empowered women with additional time, which they can choose to use at their own will.
• 75% of the house-owners of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) are women. This is an unprecedented level of social security that has been conferred on women.
The task of Narendra Modi led NDA was not limited to social empowerment or financial independence for women. The mandate was to deliver both, in adequate proportions, depending on the educational, social and economic position of the beneficiary. For a woman who not only had to work her way through gender-bias, but often work doubly hard to prove her mettle, times have changed significantly both at personal and professional fronts. As investors look beyond gender, it must be noted that shift in opportunities and resources for women can be observed in both rural and urban areas.