Enhanced women's role in new India: Empowered them to ensure their participation in Nation Building...by Satnam Singh Sandhu
Women have always played an important role in developing mankind and society but primarily if we see different sections of society around the world, they are still considered to be male-dominated. Although, governments have been working to uplift the status of women through various empowerment schemes and initiatives but most of such schemes could not bring visible change during the 75 years of India’s Independence.
But the scenario changed post-2014 when Narendra Modi took office as the Prime Minister who had a vision that the empowerment of women is necessary for India’s development. There have been concentrated efforts to ensure meaningful representation of women across professions and the empowerment of women in all sections of society, especially at the lower rung of the society.
The various initiatives started by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended the thinking of male-dominated society by providing equal opportunities to women who constitute 48.39% of India’s total population. India was going through a very tough time in terms of sex ratio in the country where the number of females per 1000 males declined to 896 in 2014-15. In 2014-15, eight states including Haryana, Delhi, and Uttar Pradesh had very poor numbers in terms of sex ratio.
Understanding the worrisome situation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, a national campaign to protect girl child and empower them with education. The impact of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign across the nation could be well ascertained from the fact that within eight years of its launch, India’s sex ratio in 2022 has climbed to 1020 females per 1000 males. It is for the first time that the number of females is more than the males in the country.
The initiative has created a change in the nation across all the areas, especially in the rural areas where, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS), the sex ratio currently is 1037 females per 1000 males. On the governance front, the representation of women in Parliament has touched a height with 78 women MPs who are currently representing people from their respective Constituencies. PM Narendra Modi enlarged the role of women in decision-making and leadership in the country.
Setting new precedence, India got its first woman Finance Minister in the form of Nirmala Sitharaman and with 11 women representation in the Council of Ministers (which is the highest number till now), this shows the amount of trust poised by PM Modi in the women leadership of the country. Taking the stock of various initiatives launched for women empowerment during the last nine years of PM Modi’s government, we see a significant improvement at the ground level. In the field of education, the gross enrolment ratio for girls increased from 24.3% for the year 2014-15 to 27.1% in the year 2019-20. It is for the first time that the gross enrolment ratio of women in higher education exceeded that of men in 2020-21.
Due to the continuous efforts made by the government, the drop out ratio of female students at various levels of education has also decreased significantly. With a vision to provide equal opportunities and removing gender biasness, PM Modi’s Government opened doors for women having permanent commissioning in the Indian Defence Forces. Not only this, women officers were allowed to take up combat roles and fighter pilots for the first time in Indian history.
In 2014-15, the number of women officers in Armed forces was around 3000, which increased to 9118 who are presently serving in the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Even under the newly introduced Agni Veer, there is a reservation up to 20% for women under various departments and responsibility in the Indian Defence Forces.
Women have been persecuted especially in the Muslim community due to matrimonial disputes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to the rescue of Muslim women by passing the law prohibiting ‘Triple Talaq’ an evil present in the society for decades. With the new law coming on Triple Talaq, the self-esteem and dignity of Muslim women was restored by safeguarding their constitutional, fundamental, and democratic rights. India saw a drop of 82% divorce cases of Muslim women in the first year of passing as strong law prohibiting the Triple Talaq.
Amongst the other initiatives taken by the Government of India, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, women has considerable percentage of representation. If we take the PM Kisan Yojana, in which direct cash benefit is transferred into the accounts of farmers by the government, more than 3 Crore women beneficiaries received over 53,600 Crores as monetary benefits under the scheme.
With a vision to improve women’s health, especially in the rural and backward areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched PM Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in which concessional LPG connections were provided so that there could be smoke-less cooking which was the caused for major health hazards in women. More than 9.6 Crore LPG connections were provided under the scheme in the last 5 years. Providing housing for all has been a motto for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and with this vision, the government launched Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. Out of the total 2 Crore homes, which have been constructed during the last 7 years, 69% of the houses are solely or jointly owned by women.
Giving importance to menstrual hygiene amongst the Indian women, especially in the rural areas, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched Janaushadhi Suvidha Sanitary Napkins scheme under which sanitary pads are provided at a bare minimum cost of Rs. 1 through 6300 Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana Kendras. Since its inception, 4.61 Crore sanitary napkins have been provided to women under the scheme.
Empowering women by providing them the opportunities of entrepreneurship has gathered the pace after PM Modi took office in 2014. Out of the total loans sanctioned under PM Mudra Yojana, 68% of the loans have been given to women entrepreneurs while 81% of the beneficiaries under the Stand-Up India Scheme are women.
India’s growth story cannot be complete without taking women, who constitute the 50% of nation’s population, on board. Therefore, PM Modi’s economic development model for the nation has given equal importance to Nari Shakti. The Modi Government has not only laid a strong foundation for the economic and social upliftment of women but has also provided a fast-lane road to enhance their participation towards nation-building.
(Photo Caption : First Women Fighter Pilots inducted in Indian Air Force )
March 06, 2023
Satnam Singh Sandhu, Chancellor Chandigarh University, Chief Patron NID Foundation
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