On the evening of Saturday 8th March 2014, which is celebrated as International Women’s Day, Shri Narendra Modi joined the second round of Chai Pe Charcha in New Delhi. The Charcha was centred on the theme of women empowerment. Shri Modi shared glimpses of his vision for the empowerment of women both economically and socially. He said that women must be equal and integral parts of the development journey of India. He added that women must also be an integral part during decision-making process.
Present on the occasion were eminent women from different walks of life who shared their views and asked questions to Shri Modi. The guests included Ms. Anjum Chopra (who has played cricket for India), Ms. Saachi Soni (a young women who climbed Mount Everest), Dr. Udeeta Tyagi (A doctorate in Chemistry, entrepreneur and eminent social worker), Ms. Deepa Malik (Arjuna Award winner and international para-athlete), Dr. Bharati Kashyap and Ms. Suma Shirur. Former IPS officer and noted social activist Dr. Kiran Bedi and eminent commentrator Shri Ashok Malik joined the round of debates and discussions during the Charcha.
The Charcha was held across over 1,500 locations. Women from all over India asked questions to Shri Modi. This included from Pune, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Sambalpur (Odisha), Delhi, Dehradun, Lucknow, Allahabad, Howrah, Jaipur, Gorakhpur. The international destinations included Kampala, London, Tokyo, Frankfurt, Washington DC and Sydney.
Answering a question on how Shri Modi will implement his vision of seeing women as nation builders and not only home makers, Shri Modi said, “We need to begin by ending discrimination. Discrimination is a very bad thing. Why must we see our sons and daughters differently? We need to become free from that. On issues of women empowerment there should be no compromise – be it birth of girl child, educating the girl child, good healthcare.”
Women from all over India were keen to know about how to improve the condition of women education across India. Shri Modi said that educating our women should be a priority for everyone. He opined, “If we educate a women we don’t only educate a person or a family but we educate generations. Women education is very important.” He went on to talk about the Gujarat Governments efforts to promote girl child education such as Shala Praveshotsav and Kanya Kelavani. Shri Modi recalled that when the government begun working on increasing girl child education, it was seen that sanitation facilities for girls were poor and to end that, the state government also made efforts in building better sanitation facilities for girls. Shri Modi shared that he auctions all the gifts he receives as CM and donates the proceeds to the cause of girl child education.
There were many questions that were centered on the issue of women security. Shri Modi categorically stated that if a man commits a crime against a woman, it is not only he himself but also every single man who must feel ashamed. He added that every problem as a solution and for that one needs Irade and Niyat. Shri Modi pointed that the Centre announced a Nirbhaya Fund of Rs. 1,000 crore with a lot of fanfare last year and even made additions to it this year but nothing was spent for productive purposes. Similarly, a call centre devoted to women’s safety was closed due to lack of resources to pay salaries. “This non-sensitive attitude will not do,” Shri Modi opined.
In response to a question on the importance of women in agriculture, Shri Modi said, “Women have an important role in agriculture. They have to work very hard…but there is a technology. We need to introduce technology, which will help us harness the potential of women in agriculture. We need to divide the agriculture sector into three parts- regular farming, farming of trees and animal husbandry. If we are able to do this, the contribution of our women will increase even more. I see the contribution of women in agriculture in tribal areas is immense. All this will increase productivity.”
Women wanted to know about the Gujarat Government’s unique initiative of women guards to protect the Gir Lion. Shri Modi threw light on how this effort of the Gujarat government has yielded very successful results.
Shri Modi talked about the vitality of proper healthcare facilities for women particularly facilities for maternal health. North East women representatives asked Shri Modi some questions. He said that national integration is the way ahead. Talking about the police force from North East, he said their English skills could be very handy.
On the economic empowerment of women, Shri Modi pointed, “Economic freedom is very important for women empowerment. They must be partners in economic development also. I have seen that women are very good at adapting to latest technology. We should link women and technology upgradation. Similarly, micro finance and value addition are very important.” Shri Modi spoke about Mahila Gruh Udyogs and how good raw material, packaging and good branding and packaging will also help women. He gave the example of Lijjat Papads.
Shri Modi affirmed that it is very important for women to be encouraged to shine of the sports field. He gave the examples of the Gujarat Government’s Khel Mahakumbh and how there are efforts to integrate more and more women athletes in the Mahakumbh and on the sports field. During the Charcha, Shri Modi outlined his vision on how to focus on women empowerment keeping in mind the fast pace of urbanisation.
Dr. Kiran Bedi lauded the vision of Shri Narendra Modi and pointed that he can change the destiny of this country with his vision. Dr. Bedi made three suggestions to Shri Modi. They were, internships to students in government offices, a national crime prevention plan where various stakeholders are involved and facilities to train future leaders and those interested in policy. Shri Modi thanked Dr. Bedi for her suggestions and talked about the CM Fellowship programme of the Gujarat government where youngsters spend a year or two in various government departments. He spoke of how this was a very beneficial exercise. He also talked about the Samras Gram Yojana and how all women Panchayats have empowered women and encouraged them to join decision making at the local level.