The BJP-Modi model of woman empowerment derives its inspiration from Indian civilisational values
As we celebrate International Women’s Day in the 21st century, the need for empowerment of women is an idea that everyone acknowledges as important. However, following up ideas and ideals with actions is of prime importance. In this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the way.
Modi has always been a vocal proponent of women empowerment. In a refreshing break from the earlier unimaginative governance paradigm of handing out nine LPG cylinders or twelve, Modi has now ensured more than three crore women are living smoke free lives due to the Ujjwala Yojana. More than six crore toilets have been built to make sanitation safer and more accessible, directly impacting the health and dignity of women. This is not a culture of temporary handouts that keeps people dependent on the government but is a culture of true and irreversible empowerment.
The success and transformation that Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has brought, both in attitudes and in outcomes, will be remembered fondly by history. Under Swachh Vidyalaya, many schools saw separate toilets being built for girls, to reduce girls dropping out of schools. Mudra and Jan Dhan have brought formal financial inclusion and entrepreneurial opportunities to crores of women. While these are policies and programmes that boost women empowerment, there is another notable transformation that has happened – the preponderance of women in positions of power.
Indian civilisation has produced Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi, Rani Chennamma of Kittur, Maharani Ahilyabai Holkar and many more inspirational women leaders. As the flag-bearer of Indian civilisational values, BJP has championed political empowerment of women, in governance or within the party organisation itself.
Today the Cabinet Committee on Security, that deliberates upon matters of national security, has two women. This first was possible because of another historic first – for the first time, India saw a woman become full time defence minister in Nirmala Sitharaman..
Modi’s government also has six female Cabinet ministers, perhaps the highest number of women in the Cabinet ever. This sends a powerful signal to millions of young women that there is no domain that a woman cannot enrich and there are no barriers that can stop them.
Modi has often called for increased participation of women in politics from panchayat to Parliament. This practice clearly begins at home for him and the party. It is a heartening fact that the 16th Lok Sabha has the privilege of having the highest ever female MPs. Almost half of women Lok Sabha MPs belong to BJP. We also have women governing local bodies. In the recently concluded UP Nagar Nigam Elections, 6 out of 14 elected mayors from BJP were women.
BJP has always been an outspoken votary of giving women their due in the legislature as its record of support for the Women’s Reservation Bill shows. The Vajpayee government had tabled the bill back in 1998 itself, only to see it fail due to lack of support from other parties. However, BJP walked the talk on women’s representation by reserving 33% of positions for women within the party organisation’s committees. Women have also been at the forefront of representing the BJP in the public eye, with many women among its spokespersons.
New India is about enabling women with opportunities to express their innate leadership qualities. The nation will benefit from women’s qualities like excellent management abilities, communication skills, ability to multitask. It will also give a more caring and compassionate edge to the often impersonal realm of governance.
For any little girl out there, new India is the place where she stands an equal chance to lead the nation, as much as anyone else. This, as Modi says, is not just women empowerment but women-led development.
It is a matter of pride that women are increasingly playing a bigger role in the development of the nation, right from cities and villages up to Parliament. It is a matter of even more pride that the Modi led BJP is leading the way, not only in making women-centric policies a focal point of governance but also in ensuring better representation in positions of power.