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Our Mantra should be: ‘Beta Beti, Ek Samaan’

Let us celebrate the birth of the girl child. We should be equally proud of our daughters. I urge you to sow five plants when your daughter is born to celebrate the occasion.

~ PM Narendra Modi

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been at the forefront of raising awareness on gender equality and women empowerment. He says that India needs not just women development, but women-led development that makes women the leading force of our development trajectory.

Accordingly, the NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi is focusing on comprehensive women empowerment.

 

Protection and Empowerment of the Girl Child

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative was launched in early 2015 to usher in a transformational shift in the way our society looks at the girl child. There is a strong emphasis on mindset change through training, sensitization, awareness raising and community mobilization on the ground. Due to these efforts, the sex ratio at birth improved in 104 districts among those identified as gender-sensitive. 119 districts reported progress in first trimester registrations and 146 districts improved in institutional deliveries. Buoyed by the success of this initiative in these districts, BBBP has now been expanded across all 640 districts of the country.

Education plays an important role in empowering the girl child. Thanks to the relentless efforts of the government such as multiple scholarships for the education of girls, enrolment of girls in secondary schools is rising.

To ensure the financial security of the girl child, Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana was introduced. Its resounding success is visible in the fact that more than 1.26 crore Sukanya Samriddhi accounts have been opened with around Rs 20,000 crore deposited in them.

Securing women against violence has been a key policy priority of the NDA government. The government gives a high priority to safety and security of the girl child and hence, through an ordinance, it provided the death penalty for the rape of a girl child under 12 years. It also ensured that the minimum punishment for the rape of a girl under 16 years is increased from 10 years to 20 years.

 

Financial Inclusion and Financial Empowerment

To boost financial empowerment of women, making them beneficiaries of formal financial institutions is a crucial, enabling step. Women have many skills that need financial capital that can help convert these skills into successful entrepreneurship opportunities. MUDRA Yojana was launched by PM Narendra Modi’s government to provide collateral-free loans to entrepreneurs and help them achieve their dreams.

Another programme, Stand Up India, also provides entrepreneurship loans of up to Rs 1 crore to women or SC/ST entrepreneurs. Women have been at the forefront of making these programmes immensely successful. Over 9 crore women have availed entrepreneurship loans jointly from MUDRA and Stand Up India. Women constitute over 70% of MUDRA’s beneficiaries.

 

Caring for Mothers

PM Narendra Modi’s government has initiated a number of steps to facilitate the welfare of expectant mothers and mothers of new-born children.

Through the Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act 2017, the government ensured that paid maternity leave for women got extended to 26 weeks, from the erstwhile 12 weeks. This is among the highest in the world.

The recently launched POSHAN Abhiyan is a first of a kind initiative to tackle malnutrition through multi-modal interventions. Multiple ministries are coming together and ensuring a targeted approach through the power of technology in this battle against malnutrition.

Mission Indradhanush is a mass movement that aims to boost the health of pregnant women and children through vaccination. It is a mission mode intervention in which more than 80 lakh pregnant women have been immunised.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana is an initiative that provides economic support to pregnant women and lactating mothers. It ensures timely checkups, an important factor in ensuring the health of mothers and children. Cash incentive of Rs 6,000 is offered to pregnant or lactating mothers to help them afford better nutrition. More than 50 lakh women are expected to benefit from PMMVY every year.

Detecting high-risk pregnancies is vital to ensuring better health for mothers and children. Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan has ensured more than 1.16 crore antenatal check-ups across more 12,900 health facilities across all states and union territories. The NDA government, through this initiative, identified more than 6 lakh high-risk pregnancies.

 

Pathbreaking Programmes for Welfare of Women

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and Swachh Bharat, both flagship programmes of the PM Narendra Modi led government, have become household names all across the country. Both of these programmes have raised the quality of life of crores of women, especially from the poorer sections.

Ujjwala Yojana, the programme that provides free LPG connections, has clocked 5.33 crore connections even before its deadline and is on the way to an enhanced target of 8 crore connections. This helps women have healthier, smoke-free lives while also helping them save the time and energy spent on looking for firewood.

Swachh Bharat has heralded a revolution in sanitation and helped women’s access to safe sanitation. Over 8.23 crore household toilets have been built and 4.25 lakh villages across 19 states/UTs have been declared ODF (open defecation free). India’s total sanitation coverage that was 38.7% in October 2014 has now reached 91.03%, a huge jump in just 4 years, thanks to PM Narendra Modi’s relentless efforts through Swachh Bharat.

 

Social Empowerment and Justice

Social empowerment of women is a key facet of ensuring their all-round development and dignity. PM Narendra Modi’s government has taken many steps to ensure the social empowerment of women.

To help the presence of immovable assets in the name of women, the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, gives preference to women.

Passport rules have been relaxed for single mothers so that they can get formalities done without any problems.

The NDA government led by PM Narendra Modi has stood by the rights of Muslim women. The government, through an important reform, has ensured that Muslim women can now perform Haj without a male guardian. The presence of a male guardian used to be a mandatory condition earlier.

A watershed moment in ensuring justice was achieved when a bill that empowers Muslim women against Triple Talaq was passed in the Lok Sabha.

 

Thus, the NDA government, under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi, has ensured great strides in empowering women, by not just focusing on women development but on women-led development.

 

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PM Narendra Modi Working for a Surakshit Bharat for Women
March 19, 2019
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his first Independence Day  address as prime minister, in 2014, said, “Parents ask their daughters where they were if they return home late. But, do they do the same with their sons? After all a person perpetrating a heinous crime such as rape is also someone’s son. As parents, have we asked our sons where he is going? While we keep questioning our daughters, why not use same yardstick for sons too?

Clearly, for someone to say this on Independence Day shows the deep concern for women’s safety and gender equality. He walked the talk by ensuring that women safety is an integral part of his government’s policymaking, governance and agenda. The nation witnessed some path-breaking announcements that ensured dignity and welfare of this section of the populace, which has been subjected to tokenism for many years. Enabling women-led development, several announcements have been made.

Some such announcements have potentially transformed the safety and security net for women in India.

The Narendra Modi government passed the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017 in Lok Sabha. This bill makes instant triple talaq (talaq-e-biddat) in any form illegal and void.

This Bill protects right of Muslim women who are vulnerable at the hands of instant triple talaq. It is a far cry from the arbitrary practice of divorcing wives with just an SMS or WhatsApp message. This bill is a beginning towards empowering married Muslim women who have been defenseless if such an event befalls them.

Mahila police volunteers and women’s safety app called HIMMAT reinforce the Government’s commitment to allow women a safe life both in and out of their homes. The Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill, 2018 creates a law for investigation of all types of trafficking, and rescue, protection and rehabilitation of trafficked victims. Anti-Trafficking Units will be established to rescue victims and investigate cases of trafficking. 

Committed to providing a safe and secure growing environment to young girls, the Narendra Modi led government introduced a law to severely punish the criminals from indulging in such heinous crimes. Capital punishment for those found guilty of raping a child under the age of 12 was introduced by the government to deter such crimes and ensure those who breach the dignity of young citizens of India are dealt with an iron hand. Moreover, minimum punishment for rape of a girl less than 16 years increased from 10 years to 20 years.

Swachh Bharat is another social innovation that has multi-faceted social impacts. In the absence of toilets, women had to venture into open fields at odd hours. This posed a huge security threat for them. Criminals could have found these visits into dark fields, as an opportunity to harm women. Women were also at the risk of lurking wild-life and snake bites which could pose a potential threat to their life. Spillover effects of Swachh Bharat are far and beyond just a sanitation initiative. It also restores safety, dignity and provides security to female members of the society.

Similarly, with launch and widespread implementation of Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, there is no need for women to venture into forests to get firewood for cooking. Outdoor risks faced by women when they went to get wood are similar to those faced in the absence of a toilet at home.

For women to contribute to the growth of the nation, their participation in the progress of democracy of India and claim of their place in the nation needs to beequal to their male counterparts. For this, we need to start from giving them security net first that makes them feel at home anywhere in their nation. Awareness campaigns like Beti Bachao beti Padhao are directed towards saving girl child, educating her and then making her a self-sufficient citizen. Sex ratio at birth has already improved in 104 identified districts, a statistic that reflects that we are now committed to protecting our daughters even before they are born.