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Modi government empowering women: Read about how PM Modi has ushered economic development and health-related improvement in the lives of women

Over the last 10 years, India’s rank has slowly yet steadily improved, up from 127 in 2014. This has been possible due to a razor-sharp focus on improving the condition of women and girl children through policy initiatives, around socio-economic and political development. 

MK Gandhi famously said – “If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior.” Women empowerment and gender equality have been priorities for nations, developed and developing alike. Of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals propounded by the UN, that form part of its 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Goal mentions that – ‘Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.’    

Guiding principles 

American Indologist Edwin Bryant, whose landmark work around Yoga and Sutras are acclaimed the world over, talks in ‘Krishna: A Sourcebook’ of the reverence accorded to women in Hinduism. Chapter 18 mentions – “Nowhere in the panorama of world religious traditions, from ancient times to the present, do we find such a strong presence of the feminine voice within the divinity as we do in the Hindu complex of religion”. Vedic literature profoundly espouses the reverence for feminism. In the 10th Chapter of Rigveda, Devīsūktam propounds that the feminine is the supreme principle behind all of the cosmos. 

The same guiding principles have pivoted present-day Central government to focus on ‘Nari Shakti’ across all walks of life. Women empowerment as envisioned by Centre can be bucketed under a few distinct heads:

  • Economic empowerment of women 
  • Health and infrastructural provisions 
  • Quality education for girl child 
  • Social progress of women

In this first of a two-part series, I will focus on the former two viz. Economic empowerment and health-related improvements for women and girl child, and how India has seen steady advancements in these over the past 10 years.  

Economic empowerment

Few notable schemes have helped women in this regard.

Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY): This was launched in 2015 to encourage skill development via free short-duration skill training and incentivise this through monetary rewards for skill certification. This successful scheme has seen over 59 lakh women getting trained from 2015 to 20222. Not just training, 12.51 lakh women candidates have been employed under this scheme from 2015 to 2023. A positive testament to this is borne by the fact that e-shram portal has registered 2.67 crore domestic and household women workers. A notable fallout of this has been, the female labor participation rate has increased to 37% in 2022-23.   

1. PM Jan Dhan Yojana: This is one of the largest financial inclusion initiatives in the world, with 52.20 Crore beneficiaries banked so far since its launch in 2014, and INR 231,154.51 Crore balance created in beneficiary accounts. Out of 52.20 Crore beneficiaries thus far, 29.03 Crore are female. This means, that around 55.6% of beneficiaries of this landmark Direct Benefit Transfer program happen to be women. This, augmented by the fact that 13 lakh banking touchpoints have been mapped on the GIS-based Jan Dhan Darshak App, makes ease of access to banking for our women force easier and less tedious.

2. PM Mudra Yojana (PMMY): This is a flagship scheme launched by PM on April 8, 2015, for providing micro-credit/loans up to INR 10 Lakhs to income-generating micro-enterprises, facilitated by Member Lending Institutions (MLIs), that include PSBs, Private sector banks, MFIs, NBFCs, and others. For FY 2023-24, a total of INR 532358.35 Crore had been disbursed, out of which INR 222297.27 Crore was disbursed to women entrepreneurs. More than 69% of the beneficiaries under this scheme were women. This has significantly enhanced access to collateral-free institutional credit for women, aiding directly in their empowerment. Notably, NPAs in PMMY have reduced significantly from 3.17% in March 2022 to 2.68% in June 2023.

3. Udyam Sakhi Portal: To foster women’s empowerment, Udyam Sakhi is a network that was created to boost financial entrepreneurship, innovative business models, and access to finance for women. As of 2023, around 6 lakh women-owned MSMEs have turned into reality. Over 1.45 lakh women MSMEs have fulfilled 7.32 lakh orders amounting to INR 15,922 Crore through the Government e-marketplace.

4. PM Street Vendor’s AtmaNirbhar Nidhi (PM SVANidhi): This scheme aims to provide collateral-free working capital loans of up to INR 10,000 for one year tenure, to approximately 50 lakh street vendors. The 1st loan target up to March 2024 had been set at INR 74,96,503, and 43% of street vendors covered under this scheme are women.   

5. Mahila Samman Savings Certificate Scheme: In her budget speech 2023-24, FM Nirmala Sitharaman introduced the Mahila Samman Savings Certificate Scheme, which will offer a maximum deposit limit of INR 2 Lakh in the name of women or girls. This is provided for 2 years of maturity duration, with a fixed interest rate of 7.5% pa. To date, around 14 lakh Mahila Samman Savings Certificate Accounts have been opened.  

6. Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana (SSY): This is a small deposit scheme launched by the Ministry of Finance, exclusively for a girl child. Inaugurated by Hon. PM on 22nd January 2015 as part of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, this scheme encourages parents to build a fund for the education of their girl child, as well as to meet marriage expenses. SSY accounts offer an 8.2% interest rate, and the maturity period is 21 years. As of February 2024, more than 3.77 Crore accounts had been registered, and more than INR 2.13 Lakh croredeposited.11

Lakhpati Didi Yojana: This is a self-help group member with an annual household income exceeding INR 1 Lakh. They inspire not only through financial independence but by adopting sustainable livelihood practices too. Through SHG, 1 crore+ women have become Lakhpati Didis. 1000 drones were distributed under Namo Drone Didi, and INR 7.68 Lakh Crore loans have been distributed under National Rural Livelihood Mission11.    

Health and infrastructure: A few snippets of information will set the stage for this conversation better.

Utilization of maternal health services improved substantially between 2005-06 and 2019-20, as evidenced by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data. 

Access to health facilities for giving birth has gone up remarkably over past 10 years. 

Sex ratio at birth (SRB), which is number of girls for every 1000 boys, notched up steadily from 918 in 2015 to 934 in 2022.

These have been possible owing to a few schemes that were introduced by the Centre. 

Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) – This flagship program aims to reduce maternal mortality among pregnant women by encouraging them to deliver in Gov health facilities. As of date, more than 8.55 Cr women have benefited under this program. One key outcome that has been witnessed is a sharp decline in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR), from 130/lakh in 2014 to 97/lakh in 2020.

Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK): JSSK entitles all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions to absolutely free and no-expense delivery, including Caesarian section. Free drugs and consumables, free diet, free provisions of blood, and free to-and-fro transportation from home to health institution and back – are features of this scheme. Newborn Care Corners (NBCCs) were established to provide essential newborn care at points of delivery, while for sick newborns, Special Newborn Care Units (SNCUs) were started across the country. 

Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA): This scheme was launched to provide fixed-day assured, comprehensive and quality antenatal care to all pregnant women (in the 2nd and 3rd trimester), on the 9th of every month. As of date, 20,752 facilities nationwide are providing PMSMA services, with 6,813 volunteers registered.

Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY): This is a Centrally sponsored DBT scheme, with cash incentives of INR 5000, being provided directly to bank/post office accounts of pregnant women and lactating mothers. As of 15.07.2022, more than 2.89 crore beneficiaries have been enrolled, and INR 11,217.39 Crore disbursed under this scheme.    

The improvement in prenatal care for mothers aged 15-49 with alive children, and basic immunizations for children, have been remarkable over the past 10 years.

A key tenet of the BJP-led Centre has been to transition from a ‘Women-centric development’ to a ‘Women-led development’. As part of this mission, Interim Budget 2024-25 saw a substantial increase of the Gender Budget by 38.6% over 2023-24. This is also a whopping 218% increase over UPA’s allocation in 2013-14. 

Way forward

On 13th March 2024, UNDP came out with their Human Development Report 2023/2024. The Gender Inequality Index (GII) 2022 saw India ranked at 108 out of 193 countries, a jump of 14 notches over the 2021 ranking (122 out of 191 countries). Over the last 10 years, India’s rank has slowly yet steadily improved, up from 127 in 2014. This has been possible due to a razor-sharp focus on improving the condition of women and girl children through policy initiatives, around socio-economic and political development. 

“Women hold up half the sky” famously said former CCP Chairman Mao Zedong. As India’s skies open up to a glorious trove of opportunities, courtesy a set of bold and pragmatic decisions by the Central government over the past 10 years, women are taking wings in ways one could barely imagine a decade back. And, in the process, they are turning out to be the true harbinger of India’s Viksit Bharat dream of 2047!

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Debraj B
Debraj B
Debraj is a strategy and digital transformation consultant, has been with leading consulting organizations globally, and currently a Senior Director with a technology giant. He harbors a keen interest in policy making and economy, and has written for few leading online publications in India. He writes on primarily topics pertaining to GoI policies in infrastructure, commerce, textile, and more.

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