Imagine you are the elected leader of 1.3 billion people, a global statesman with the highest following on various social media platforms and you make 7 women, each with her own inspiring tale of determination, passion and service, take over your accounts
Such a scenario may seem unheard of. But this is how Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to celebrate the International Women’s Day. These seven women are a reflection of the aspirational, ambitious and assertive women of New India. This act, itself, was symbolic of the way in which the women of New India are scaling new heights, encouraged in word and in deed by the Modi Government at every step.
Women Soaring High When Given Opportunity
Equal rights and opportunities are necessary conditions for women to reach their full potential. In the last six years of the Modi government, there has been consistent effort to secure women’s dignity, ensure their safety and empower them in every way possible.
As India moves towards crossing new frontiers, it is the women taking the lead in every sphere. The past 6 years have proven, time and again, that all women in India seek are opportunities and a supportive environment to stand on their feet.
Today 54 per cent of Jan Dhan Yojana beneficiaries are women. MUDRA scheme boasts of 70% entrepreneurs availing the collateral-free loan to be women. Adding to this growing entrepreneurial base, digital platforms like Mahila-e-Haat, GeM are further promoting products of businesses headed by female entrepreneurs/SHGs/ NGOs. Mahila e-Haat has over 7,000 products and services and over 32,000 women entrepreneurs/SHGs/NGOs. Over 8,000 women entrepreneurs are operating from GeM platform successfully.
Empowering women is believed to be the key to a better nation and a better polity. With the highest ever representation of women in various spheres of life, one can certainly see the path towards a new, better India being tread with giant strides. Women representation in Panchayati Raj Institutions had already touched the highest ever mark at 46% in 2015. In 2019, the Indian Parliament reconvened with a new government and MPs. But this time, the highest ever number of elected women Members of Parliament (78) was seen in the 17th Lok Sabha, as against 64 MPs in the previous Lok Sabha.
Not to be left out in any sphere, women have also broken the barriers that stopped them from serving the nation in combat roles. The Indian Air Force opened its doors for women in combat roles, as three women qualified to fly in fighter jets on combat missions for the first time ever. The first Navy woman pilot of India, Sub Lieutenant Shivangi, joined the service in December 2019. It was a moment of cheer for entire nation who reveled in the victory of women officers.
Not only that, the Modi Government has ensured greater participation of women officers in India’s Paramilitary Forces as well. In January 2016, the government announced 33% reservation for women in CRPF and CISF at the constable posts. This is a novel step to improve the representation of women in police forces and also make them more women-friendly.
Safety and Security of Women: Cornerstone of Women Empowerment
The motto of the government is empower women, as well make them feel secure in their surroundings. The fear should be in the minds of those who commit crime and not among women wanting to lead their lives as they wish and aspire.
It was a long-standing demand from the various quarters of the society to meet out death penalty for crimes against girl child. Responding to the grave crime, the Indian Parliament passed the decisive amendment to the Indian Penal Code that allows death penalty for rape of a girl child younger than 12 years. The punishment for the rape of girl child below 16 years was also increased from 10 years to 20 years.
Justice is best served when it is swift. The law states that both investigation and trial of such a heinous crime should be completed within two months while appeals should be disposed of within six months. The speedy trial also ensures safety of the victim and their family as well as witnesses, who are often seen being threatened by the accused.
In order to address women suffering cases of domestic violence, sexual harassment and other gender related violence swiftly; the government initiated One Stop Centers (OSC) for grievance redressal. Till March, 2020 728 OSCs have been approved by Government of India in 724 districts. Out of these, 680 OSCs are operational and have addressed more than 2.5 lakh cases of women.
Addressing the serious issue of trafficking among women and children, the anti-trafficking bill has been introduced in the Parliament. It ensures that the different forms of trafficking are tracked and speedy justice is delivered. The bill lists out various forms of trafficking like forced labour, prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, etc. and lists the punishments for them.
Only a society that respects women will progress and grow. Therefore, by introducing initiatives such as universal women helpline number, 181, to help women affected by violence or launching She-Box facility in both government and private workplaces, or even starting more and more metro services in big cities to ensure safe travel for women, the government is addressing the safety issues concretely and comprehensively.
Therefore, both the aspects of women-led development are equally given importance in government actions towards a New India of aspiring women from all walks of life.