”Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devata.
Yatraitaastu Na Pujyante Sarvaastatrafalaah Kriyaah”
Where women are honored, there the deities are pleased; but where they are not honored, no sacred rite could yield rewards.
The state of Gujarat has a perfect image of a state where women empowerment has helped write in new chapters of human achievements and glories.
The positive impact of rising women’s participation in the development journey of Gujarat is being felt in every sector and in every corner of the state. It is no gainsay in stating that women from remote corner of Gujarat “vouch for opportunities galore” in the state.
Ostensibly, one could say thanks to PM Narendra Modi whose lifelong commitment had propelled the state during his stint to take steps towards empowering women.
Today, every gram panchayat has women representatives including many sarpanches. One official in the know of things say these women have creditably proved their mettle as skilled administrators. In the words of the Prime Minister Modi himself – “In Gujarat, the total number of women panchayat representatives is more than male representatives”.
The growing presence of women in important and decisive village bodies has certainly helped the western state and also the country wipe out many social myths in number of villages. Even in urban bodies, officials say, the representation of women has surged dramatically.
Modi’s initiatives during his stint as Gujarat Chief Minister were pathbreaking. As Chief Minister, he had launched ‘Nari Gaurav Niti’ and the scheme had made women’s contribution equally important in the development of the state and also raised their self-esteem.
Gujarat was the first state to implement such a holistic policy and gradually the state also took steps to prevent gender-bias. Through ‘Beti Bachao’ campaign, the state actually witnessed a significant improvement in child sex ratio.
“I am associated with several of these pro-women innovative ideas. I can vouch that by reserving 33 per cent women in government jobs and 50 per cent in local body elections, the state of Gujarat was able to bring about revolutionary changes,” says a social worker.
In the words of wise men and women working on these measures, the Women’s Empowerment at the global stage itself is closely aligned with female empowerment – which is a fundamental ‘human right’ that’s also the key to achieving a more peaceful prosperous world.
The Women’s Empowerment could be defined to promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to determine their own choices, and their right to influence social change for themselves and the society and the country.
Officials point out that as a result of Modi’s far-sighted vision in Gujarat, women participation in dairy sector was given a totally new dimension. Today, the Cooperative Society in Gujarat are being successfully operated by thousands of women. Sources further state that an estimated five lakh women members are also actively contributing towards Forest Management Societies.
Modi’s dutiful Lieutenant Bhupendra Patel:
As Prime Minister Modi’s lieutenant, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel is committed to the cause and is well focused.
“The government and the society have a specific responsibility towards women and children; whatever we do for the empowerment of women will always be insufficient as there is always scope for more,” the Chief Minister says.
In the latest budget, the Suposhit Mata Swasth Bal Yojana was introduced. It focuses on 1,000 days of proper care and nutrition to mothers during the pregnancy and lactation period when mothers require extra calories and better nourishment.
The state will be thus providing one litre groundnut oil, and other nutritious foods for 1,000 days of a new mother’s life. It is an Rs 800 crore scheme.
Chief Minister Patel further says: “Since Narendra Modi saheb was Chief Minister, there has been a sense of security for our mothers and sisters in Gujarat. No matter what the festival is; even during Navratri, women are not scared of returning home late night. That is the security provided”.
During his stint as Gujarat Chief Minister, Modi also had conducted as innovative experiments in Gujarat by connecting ‘women empowerment’ with water management at village level.
It goes without stating that ‘monetary support’ to women especially in rural Gujarat has played a crucial role in the growth of economic activities in Gujarat. Officials say even as the state is generally acclaimed for entrepreneurship skills and innovative ideas, it is also true that saving comes naturally and perhaps ‘better’ to women.
The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is highly successful and it has virtually given wings to women.
Much importantly, an equal pay sale has been brought in by a new Act of the state assembly in 2019.
- In 2006-07, Budget for women welfare was Rs 158 crore. By 2022-23, it jumped to Rs 3511 crore. That means the quantum leap recorded was over 22,000 increase.
- A study by the Gujarat Institute of Development Research focused on feminized agriculture found that in Gujarat 65% of women are working in agriculture as compared to just 44% men.
- Survey claims in rural Gujarat, higher secondary educated females worked in textile factories or diamond units as daily wage workers but not much in agriculture. Now, scenario is changing and women mostly take keen interest in marketing of ago based products.
- Schemes like Sukanya Samridhi Yojana are immensely successful and are worth emulating by other states. This scheme encourages parents of girl child to make small investments for their studies and a bright future.
- Sometime back, data revealed claimed over 20,000 villages have been declared as the Sampoorna Sukanya Gram.
- In Gujarat, the enrolment ratio of girls in primary education has been on constant rise. In 2018-19, it was 88.5 per cent and this has shot up to 90.5 percent by 2019-20.
- Prime Minister Modi’s Selfie with Daughter was also highly result oriented innovative method to encourage girl child and discard gender bias/discretion against women and girl children.
- Gujarat is the first state to provide insurance cover to families of deceased anagwanwadi workers through the Mata Yashoda Gaurav Nidhi Yojana.
- Created in a collaboration between the UN Global Compact and UN Women, the Women’s Empowerment Principles are used to empower women in the marketplace, workplace and community.
- The seven Principles in this mission are:
- Create high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
- Treat all people fairly at work, respecting and supporting non-discrimination
- Ensure the health, the wellbeing and safety of all workers
- Development for women
- Implement supply chain, marketing practices and enterprise development that empower women
- Championing equality through community initiatives and advocacy
- Taking Measures and report publicly on progress to create gender equality.