Present in the program are Governors and Chief Ministers of different states, my colleagues in the Council of Ministers, Smriti Irani ji, Dr. Mahendra Bhai and Darshana Jardosh ji, President of the National Commission for Women, Smt. Rekha Sharma ji, Chairpersons and members of all State Women's Commissions, members of the volunteers’ associations, other dignitaries, brothers and sisters!
Many congratulations to all of you on the 30 years of foundation of the National Commission for Women. The milestone of 30 years is very important, whether it is in the life of an individual or an organization. This is the period for new responsibilities and moving forward with new energy. I am sure the National Commission for Women is approaching the 30th year of its foundation in the same way. It should be more effective, more responsible and infused with new energy. Today the role of women is continuously expanding in changing India. Therefore, the expansion of the role of the National Commission for Women is also the need of the hour. In such a situation, all the women's commissions of the country will also have to expand their scope and give a new direction to the women of their states.
इसी तरह, महिलाओं में स्वयं सहायता समूहों के जरिए entrepreneurship को बढ़ाने के लिए देश दीन दयाल अंत्योदय योजना चला रहा है। देश की महिलाओं का उत्साह और सामर्थ्य इतना है, कि 6-7 सालों में स्वयं सहायता समूहों की संख्या तीन गुना बढ़ गई है। यही ट्रेंड हमें भारत के स्टार्टअप eco-system में भी देखने को मिल रहा है। वर्ष 2016 से हमारे देश में 56 अलग-अलग सेक्टर्स में 60 हजार से ज्यादा नए स्टार्टअप्स बने हैं। और हम सभी के लिए गौरव का विषय है कि इनमें से 45 प्रतिशत में कम से कम एक निदेशक महिला है।
Today the resolution of a new India is before us in the Amrit Mahotsav of Independence. Today the country is working on the mantra of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas'. The country will realize this goal of development for all only when all possibilities are equally open to all. As we are aware, the definition of business earlier revolved around big corporates and men only. But the truth is that for centuries India's strength has been our small local industries, which we today dub MSMEs. The role of women in these industries is as much as that of men.
You take the example of the textile industry, or pottery, or look at agriculture and milk products; there are so many industries whose essence is women’s power and women’s skills. But unfortunately, the strength of these industries was not recognized. Those who believed in old thinking had considered the skills of women as a matter of domestic work.
It is necessary to change this old approach in order to advance the economy of the country. Make in India is doing exactly the same thing today. The AatmaNirbhar Bharat campaign is connecting the competence of women with the development of the country. And, the results are in front of us! Today, about 70 percent of the beneficiaries of the Mudra Yojana are women. Crores of women have started their enterprises with the help of this scheme and are providing employment to others as well.
Similarly, the country is running the Deen Dayal Antyodaya Yojana to improve entrepreneurship among women through self-help groups. Such is the enthusiasm and strength of the women of the country that the number of self-help groups has increased three times in six-seven years. The same trend is visible in the startup ecosystem of India as well. Since 2016, more than 60,000 new start-ups have been formed in our country in 56 different sectors. It is a matter of pride for all of us that there is at least one woman director in 45 percent of these start-ups.
The participation of women is increasing continuously in the growth cycle of New India. Women's commissions should promote this role of women in the entrepreneurship of society as much as possible. You all have seen that the country has paid special attention to this in the last seven years. The increasing participation of women in the prestigious Padma award is yet another example. Since 2015, 185 women have been given the Padma award for their phenomenal work. This year also, 34 Padma awards have been given to women working in different fields. This is a record in itself. To date, never ever so many women have received the Padma award.
Similarly, India's daughters are doing wonders in the world of sports, winning medals for the country in the Olympics. Our nurses, doctors and women scientists have played a huge role in the country’s biggest fight against the corona pandemic.
That is, the women power of India has proved its potential whenever it got an opportunity. Who knows better than all of you that a woman is also the best teacher and a trainer? Therefore, there is also a huge responsibility before all women commissions to create a new approach and capability from entrepreneurship to sports in India.
You all are witnesses that the policies of the country have become more sensitive towards women in the last seven years. Today India is one of the countries which offer maximum maternity leave. Efforts are being made to raise the age of marriage of daughters to 21 years so that marriage at an early age does not hinder the education and career of daughters.
There was a time when women’s empowerment was seen through a narrow prism in the country. The women from villages and poor families were outside this scope. We are also working to eliminate this disparity. Today, the face of women empowerment is also those nine crore poor women who got a gas connection for the first time and got freedom from smoke. Today, the face of women empowerment is also crores of mothers and sisters who have a toilet in their house, which is called Izzatghar in Uttar Pradesh. Today the face of women empowerment is also those mothers who have got a concrete roof over their heads for the first time. Similarly, when crores of women get assistance during pregnancy and delivery, when crores of women get their Jan Dhan bank accounts, when government subsidies go directly to women's accounts, these women become the face of women empowerment and the changing India.
Today the confidence of the women of the country has increased. They are determining their own future as well as giving direction to the future of the country. After several years, the sex ratio has improved in the country, the drop-out rate of girls from schools has decreased, because women themselves are associated with the country's 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' campaign. And when a woman decides something, then she only decides its direction. Therefore, we are seeing that the women did not hesitate to oust the governments which did not give priority to women's safety from power.
When I was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, I used to wonder why this issue is not being handled in the same way elsewhere. Therefore, we made many efforts related to women’s safety at the national level after the formation of the government in 2014. Today there are strict laws on crimes against women and provision has also been made for hanging in heinous cases of rape. Fast-track courts are also being set up across the country. Systems are also being improved with the cooperation of the states to ensure that the new laws are strictly followed.
Several efforts are underway to increase the number of women help desks in police stations, to have a round-the-clock helpline and a portal to deal with cybercrimes. Most importantly, today the government is working with the zero-tolerance policy on crimes against women. In all these efforts, the National Commission for Women works as a bridge between the women and the governments in collaboration with the State Women's Commissions. I am sure that your positive role will continue to strengthen our society in the same way.
With this belief, once again many congratulations to all of you on the occasion of Foundation Day!