The Modi Years – Empowering Women

yatra nāryastu pūjyante ramante tatra devatāḥ|

yatraitāstu na pūjyante sarvāstatrāphalāḥ kriyāḥ || 

This, one of the most prominent and esteemed ancient Sanskrit shlokas, describes the importance of women in the socio-cultural fabric, asserting the place where women is respected as abode of the gods. The shloka sheds light on the continuing culture of women empowerment throughout the history of Bharat’s society.

From ancient times we have held women as equal to men and an essential part of growing civilisation. Bharatiya culture is the only major culture in the present world, which has holistically understood the power of feminine nature. Bharatiya culture has always espoused all dimensions of natural power from neutrality, masculinity to femininity and has held women in high regard. This is evident from the acknowledgment of women divinity in larger Hindu pantheon.

But the current modern paradigm of women participation in the national growth and development has not touched its true potential yet. Women’s active contribution in the nation building process in of paramount significance. Women faces several gender based issues which hinder both their and society’s effective progress.

A society with any kind of marginalisation remains strides behind a society with equal cooperation. The present situation of women’s participation in larger national affairs in Bharat and the world is grossly misprized. And under-utilisation of overall population in nation building adversary affects the nation’s growth story and ambitions.

Building a cooperative and coordinating environment for sustainable growth of the nation requires the state and the society to increase and assist larger women participation. 

Women empowerment architects a society for equal and meritorious engagement of women in the socio-economical world. Women empowerment, along with empowering equality and active cooperation, enhances inclusive development of the country. Women’s larger participation in economical world boosts productivity, increases output along with sustaining demographic dividend.

Modi led government has time and again emphasised its role in furthering the cause of women empowerment. Modi has several times spoken of building a system of not just women development but also women led development. 

Here we will evaluate how has previous NDA government performed in empowering women of this country.

Ujjwala Yojana, undoubtedly, is the government’s most lauded and esteemed scheme for women development in the country. In Bharat, everyday basic activity of cooking is fraught with danger for millions of women. 

The problem was severe for crores of women across the nation and PM Modi understood the critical aspect and took the lead in its resolve by launching Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana in May way in 2016, an integrated programme to distribute better and less polluting – LPG cylinders to women across the nation.

The oil ministry’s Petroleum Planning and Analysis Cell (PPAC) estimates that LPG coverage in Bharat (the proportion of households with an LPG connection) has increased from 56% in 2015 to 90% in 2019. And of the 79 million poor customers with LPG connections, 76% are PMUY beneficiaries. According to these estimates, several states such as Maharashtra and Rajasthan, are already nearing 100% LPG coverage. Making women free from the clutches of diseases and pollution. Ujjwala ensured cooking safety for the millions of poor women across the nation.

The scheme has garnered praise in the World Health Organisation’s pollution report earlier this year and also became the subject of a National Geographic documentary chronicling its impact on the lives of four women across the country, with the scene tracking closely how their lives have changed phenomenally after the scheme.

Another major scheme of government ensuring larger betterment of women population was Swachh Bharat Mission. The scheme, though focusing on maintaining cleanliness and making Bharat open defecation free (ODF), helped millions of women especially of the rural Bharat.

Government constructed crores of toilets for previously toilet less households in the country. Construction of toilets in the poor households freed women from catastrophic chain of open defecation ensuring better living standards for them. Apart from that, millions of women got job as sweepers and cleaners in major cities with a decent pay improving their financial stability and social security.

Swachh Bharat mission has not only drastically improved the outlook of the country but has also significantly empowered the poor women. 

Bringing in triple talaq bill in the parliament was another major step by the government aimed at improving lives of millions of Muslim women of the country, by ensuring justice to marginalised Muslim women, the government blazed a trail. The Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Marriage) Bill, 2019 aimed at criminalising talaq-e-biddat was brought in by this government after Supreme Court’s ruling.

Talaq-e-biddat refers to a practice of divorce under Muslim personal laws simply by pronouncing the word ‘talaq‘ thrice in one sitting by a Muslim man to his wife. Such a divorce is fundamentally against the rights of Muslim women in marriage. And by taking a strong stand against it, Modi led government has again made their stand, for women empowerment, unambiguous. 

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, a major initiatives by this government to ensure better life for girl child, was launched in 2015 to ‘usher in a transformational shift’ in the way our society treated the girl child.

“There is a strong emphasis on mindset change through training, sensitisation, awareness raising and community mobilisation on the ground. Due to these efforts, the sex ratio at birth improved in 104 districts among those identified as gender-sensitive. 119 districts reported progress in first trimester registrations and 146 districts improved in institutional deliveries. Buoyed by the success of this initiative in these districts, BBBP has now been expanded across all 640 districts of the country.”, said the government. 

Education for the girl child had been a neglected issue in the society for very long time. Proper training in academic life is significant for sustainable empowerment of girls and women. Modi’s government ensured better educational environment for the girls through various measures, one of them being Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY). PM SSY ensured financial security for the girl child and “its resounding success is visible in the fact that more than 1.26 crore Sukanya Samriddhi accounts have been opened with around Rs 20,000 crore deposited in them.”

This government through various measures ensured the women of this country stays strong and integrated in the mainstream development. The government has not only bought scheme focused on improving lives of women but has also bought initiatives that systematically and institutionally aimed at ensuring women led developers.

MUDRA Yojana has been a significant step in the direction which bought in a paradigm shift in the society with over 9 crore women availing entrepreneurship jointly from MUDRA and Stand Up India. Women constitute 70% of the beneficiaries of MUDRA scheme.

Apart from that, there various schemes like PM POSHAN Abhiyan, Mission Indradhanush and PM Mantru Vandan Yojana which bought transformation in the lives of women. Modi has mainstreamed women into Bharat’s politics.

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About the Author

Yogendra Thakur
A student and two time state topper in Astrophysics and Art of Lecturing. Primary focus areas are Indology and Economics.