Susmita Dev has today penned an op-ed in the Indian Express essentially stating that the abolition triple talaq (which she considers to be PM Modi’s flagship tool of women empowerment) isn’t really empowering to women. Not only does this not make any sense for various reasons, but women’s empowerment has been and is a critical part of PM Modi’s policies.
The development of New India under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken our nation to a different sphere. Sab Ka Saath, Sab Ka Vikas is not only the slogan by the government but is also reflected in their central working policy. Women led development is the main center of focus of the Modi government. Gone are those days where women were only considered to be good as homemakers, we have reached a point where Nari Shakti is driving the nation. But while doing so, women have managed to maintain the balance between their personal life and professional life. Throughout history, the central role of women has ensured stability, prosperity and development of nations.
Prime Minister Modi’s Cabinet has 6 women ministers, including two in the powerful Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS). Nirmala Sitharaman, Union Defence Minister, and Sushma Swaraj – the External Affairs Minister. Other Cabinet ministers are Maneka Gandhi, Harsimrat Kaur, and Smriti Irani. The presence of women at the highest level of decision making speaks a lot about women’s empowerment. The Indian Air Force has recently appointed the first female fighter pilots. India has been successful in achieving gender parity in school education. The literacy rate of women has risen from 9% in 1951 to 65% in 2011. Today, every fourth worker in India is a woman. One-third of all certified engineers are now women and over three-fourths of all health workers at primary level are women. In a country bursting with an entrepreneurial spirit, today almost every fifth entrepreneur is a woman. The contribution of women in smooth functioning of society failed to receive attention by the policy makers, but now, with the change in the perspective of the nation, the times have changed.
Women empowerment begins from the womb. The government’s Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, has witnessed an unprecedented success under the Modi Government. Sex ratio at birth improved in 104 identified districts and the programme has bridged the gender gap in enrolment rates. Along with this, the Sukanya Samridhi Yojana, launched in 2015, under which deposits are made in bank accounts of girls, for higher education, more than 1.26 crore accounts have been opened. The Modi government has implemented Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques. (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994 for the prohibition of sex selection before and after conception and for prevention of misuse of pre-conception and pre-natal diagnostic techniques for sex determination.
In addition, the public health departments also encourage economic empowerment of women by engaging women in positions ranging from village level Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to health care providers such as Auxiliary Nurse Midwives (ANMs), health care administrators and policymakers at State and National levels. At the village level, women members of panchayats are leading the empowerment of their villages. To support their process the Ministry of Women and Child Development has conducted training for women members.
The Modi government for facilitating the well-being of expectant mother launched Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, to protect the employment of women during the time of her maternity and entitles her of a ‘maternity benefit’, a paid maternity leave extended to 26 weeks (6 months). As on December 10, 2018, 49.88 Lakh women availed maternity benefit worth ₹1678.63 Crore. To tackle malnutrition and improve nutritional outcomes for children, adolescents, pregnant women and lactating mothers Poshan Abhiyan was launched.
Women safety in India is a big concern. From India being famous for its tradition and culture, where women are given most respected place in the society, where women are given the place of Goddess Lakshmi, some cases of crime against women have changed the idea of safety. In order to improve the situation regarding safety and security, the Modi government has taken many steps- provision of Death Penalty for rape of girl child under 12 years and Minimum punishment for rape of a girl under 16 years increased from 10 years to 20 years.
In December 2017, the Muslim Women (Protection of Right on Marriage) Bill, 2017 was introduced in the Lok Sabha, to promote the rights of the Muslim women. The restriction on women was eased by phasing out a tradition that had been in practice for the past 70 years, Muslim women can perform Haj without Mehram or male guardian.
For women to safeguard them and their children from the smoke of firewood, coal, dung – cakes etc, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) provides clean cooking fuel and prevents them from the several respiratory diseases/ disorders. As per now, 6,68,87,090 connections in 714 districts have been released.
Today, the median female share of the global workforce is 45.4 percent. To provide integrated financial and support services, the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana (PMMY) provides loans upto Rs. 10 lakh to the non-corporate, non-farm small/micro enterprises. In which more than 74% of the beneficiaries are women. Over 9 crore women have benefitted jointly from Mudra & Stand-Up India.
In the last few years, India has witnessed change in the status and role of women in society. The approach has been changed, from being the subject of welfare, term has shifted to empowerment. It is not easy to change the perspective of the society overnight. Nevertheless, the Modi government has shifted focus from merely helping them to empowering them.