“When women prosper, the world prospers”
“At 1.4 million, 46% of elected representatives in rural local bodies in India are women”
“Women in India have been brand Ambassadors for ‘Mission LiFE’ - Lifestyle for Environment”
“Given their close association with nature, women hold the key to innovative solutions to climate change”
“We must work to remove the barriers that restrict women’s access to markets, global value-chains, and affordable finance”
“Under India’s G20 Presidency, it has been decided to establish a new Working Group on 'Women Empowerment”

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen, Namaskar!

I welcome you all to Gandhinagar, the city named after Mahatma Gandhi, on its day of formation. I am delighted that you have the opportunity to visit Gandhi Ashram in Ahmedabad. Today, the whole world is talking about climate change, global warming, and the urgency to find sustainable solutions. At Gandhi Ashram, you will witness first-hand the simplicity of Gandhiji's life-style and his visionary ideas of sustainability, self-reliance, and equality. I am sure you will find it inspirational. You will also get to experience it at the Dandi Kuteer museum, an opportunity you should not miss. It will not be out of place for me to mention here that Gandhiji's famous Charkha, the spinning wheel, was found by a woman named Gangaben at a village nearby. As you know, from then onwards, Gandhiji always wore Khadi, which became a symbol of self-reliance and sustainability.

Friends,

When women prosper, the world prospers. Their economic empowerment fuels growth. Their access to education drives global progress. Their leadership fosters inclusivity. And, their voices inspire positive change. The most effective way to empower women is through a women-led development approach. India is making strides in this direction.

Friends,

India's President Shrimati Droupadi Murmu sets an inspiring example herself. She comes from a humble tribal background. But now leads the world's largest democracy and serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the world's second largest defence force. In this Mother of Democracy, the 'Right to Vote' was granted equally to all citizens, including women, by the Indian Constitution right from the beginning. The right to contest elections was also granted on an equal basis. Elected Women representatives have been key agents of economic, environmental and social change. At 1.4 million, 46% of elected representatives in rural local bodies in India are women. The mobilisation of women into Self-Help Groups has also been a powerful force for change. During the pandemic, these Self-Help Groups and Elected Women representatives emerged as pillars of support for our communities. They manufactured masks and sanitizers as well as created awareness about infection prevention. More than 80% of nurses and mid-wives in India are women. They were our first line of defence during the pandemic. And, we are proud of their achievements.

Friends,

Women-led development has been a key priority for us in India. Around 70% of the loans under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana have been sanctioned to women. These are loans up to one million rupees to support micro-level units. Similarly, 80% of beneficiaries under Stand-Up India are women, availing bank loans for green field projects. Under the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, nearly 100 million cooking gas connections have been provided to rural women. Provision of clean cooking fuel directly impacts the environment and improves women's health. The number of women in technical education in the Industrial Training Institutes has doubled since 2014.

And, nearly 43% of STEM graduates in India, that is Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, are women. About one-fourth of space scientists in India are women. Behind the success of our flagship programmes like Chandrayaan, Gaganyaan and Mission Mars lies the talent and hardwork of women scientists. Today, more women are enrolling in higher education than men in India. We also have one of the highest percentages of female pilots in civil aviation. And, female pilots in the Indian Air Force are now flying fighter aircrafts. Women officers are being deployed in operational roles and fighting platforms in all our armed forces.

Friends,

In India, and in the Global South, women play pivotal roles as the backbone of rural agricultural families, and as small traders and shopkeepers. Given their close association with nature, women hold the key to innovative solutions to climate change. I recall how women led the first prominent climate action in India in the 18th century. The Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, led by Amrita Devi, started the 'Chipko movement.' It was a movement to hug trees to prevent unregulated logging. Along with several other villagers, she laid down her life for the cause of nature. Women in India have also been brand Ambassadors for 'Mission LiFE'- Lifestyle for Environment. They reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-purpose, based on traditional wisdom. Under various initiatives, women are actively getting trained in making solar panels and lights. The 'Solar Mamas' have been successful collaborators with our partner countries in the Global South.

Friends,

Women entrepreneurs are significant contributors to the global economy. The role of women entrepreneurs in India is not new. Decades ago, in 1959, seven Gujarati women in Mumbai came together to create a historic cooperative movement - Shri Mahila Grih Udyog. Since then, it has transformed the lives of millions of women and their families. Their most famous product, Lijjat Papad, will probably be on your menus in Gujarat! Another success story of our cooperative movement is the dairy sector. This is also powered by women. In the State of Gujarat alone, there are 3.6 million women involved in the dairy sector. And, there are many, many more such inspiring stories all over India. In India, about 15% of unicorn start-ups have at least one-woman founder. The combined value of these women-led unicorns is over 40 billion dollars. However, our goal should be to create a level platform where women achievers become the norm. We must work to remove the barriers that restrict their access to markets, global value-chains, and affordable finance. At the same time, we need to ensure that the burden of care and domestic work is appropriately addressed.

Excellencies,

Your focus on women entrepreneurship, leadership and education is commendable. I am also glad that you are launching the 'Tech-Equity Platform' to enhance digital and financial literacy for women. And, I am delighted that under the Indian Presidency, it has been decided to establish a new Working Group on 'Women Empowerment' Your untiring efforts in Gandhinagar will give immense hope and confidence to women around the world. I wish you all the best for a productive and successful meeting.

Thank you.

Thank you very much.

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