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.