From maternity leave to LPG connections: How Narendra Modi made women partners in the new India story

Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting beneficiaries of Ujjwala Yojna. (via Twitter)
Dr Shubhra Parmar
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has revolutionised, strengthened and transformed women’s position through his policies. At the National Women Livelihood meet 2019 in Varanasi, the PM said “Women are playing a major role in building a new India… Women’s active participation and blessings are crucial in creating a new culture for a new India.” These words reflect the comprehensive and inclusive vision of Narendra Modi as India rises on the growth charts. Powered by this vision, his government has done stellar work for gender equality and Nari Shakti in the last five years. He has ignited a new consciousness and enthusiasm for the welfare, progress and empowerment for women.
The PM’s vision encompasses independent, dignified and holistic sustainability for Indian women. Many steps taken by his government are a testimony to this. In 2017, for example, Prime Minister Modi hosted the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Partnership with the government of the United States of America in Hyderabad. This was the eighth edition of the international summit of entrepreneurs and it was being held in South-Asia for the first time. Women were made the focus of this mega event with the theme ‘Women First, Prosperity For All’. Out of the 1600 delegates selected for this event, it was ensured that 52% were women. This two-day trade programme brought together women investors, entrepreneurs, and business professionals giving them the rare opportunity to network, find mentors and share challenges.
During his five years in office, the PM started several schemes and policies focused on the objective of women upliftment and development. He gave the slogan of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao that found resonance with average Indian households. The multiple initiatives of his government can be divided into two segments – steps aimed at countering violence against women and enhancing safety, and steps aimed at improving the living and livelihood of women. One Stop Centre Scheme for integrated support to women affected by violence, stringent punishment for perpetrators of sexual assault, 33% reservation for women in police forces, are some of the significant steps that were taken to enhance the safety net for women.
In the second segment of improving the social and economic status of women, the Modi government took several pragmatic steps such as Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (to provide LPG connection to BPL households with the connections being issued in the name of the women in such households), increasing maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, allowing Muslim women to perform Haj without a male guardian, Mahila Uddyami Scheme as a special feature of Mudra Yojna to provide hassle-free loan to women entrepreneurs in MSE segment, mandatory participation of women in Stand Up India scheme, and Sukanya Samriddhi Yojna for the girl child, among others.
These schemes have moved from files to ground. For example, under Ujjwala Yojna 7 crore LPG connections have been distributed so far bringing health benefits to an equivalent number of women. Similarly, all Union Territories and Delhi have implemented 33% reservation for women in police force.
An overview of the schemes during the last five years shows government’s sensitivity to the needs of women. Simple steps such as issuing gas cylinders in the name of women go a long way in improving not only their physical condition but also give a boost to their perceived status. In the last five years women have become equal stakeholders as well as participants in the growth of the nation. They are no longer just bystanders waiting for the male members of the family to bring home some dole. The Prime Minister recently said that this century is going to be that of India. His five years in government also prove that within India this century is going to be that of women.
Courtesy: Academics 4 Namo
(The writer is Assistant Professor, Political Science, Bhagini Nivedita College, Delhi University)