Topic- General Studies Paper-1; Social Enpowerment, Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States
Women make up nearly half of India’s population. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. The modern woman is no longer confined to the four walls of the house. Women are now realizing their worth in every way and demanding gender equality and justice both at home and in the workplace. They have broken the glass barrier in almost every field, be it technology, space science, sports or the armed force. Almostevery fifth women is an entrepreneur- both in urban and rural India. This change is positive and it is happening at a pace faster than ever before.
The dream of New India was where women were empowered, strong and an equal partner in the nation’s overall development.
Women need a safe and enabling environment which encourages their empowerment.
The recent developments in the area of women empowerment are very encouraging. Even India’s successful launch of the Mangalyaan and the record breaking 104 Nano satellites launched into orbit onboard a single rocket had a team of women scientists behind them. These women are role models for a country, which now echoes with the slogan of ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’
India has been successful in achieving gender parity in school education. Even in technical and professional education the representation of women is significantly increasing.
The literacy rate of women has increased from 9% in 1951 to 65% in 2011.This, in itself is a huge turnaround factor.
In the workplace today, every fourth worker in India is a woman. With their increasing participation in a variety of fields, women’s bargaining power in both private and public life is steadily increasing.
In Politics also we see the numbers are even more encouraging. Elected women representatives now make up about 46% of our Panchayat members.
On the health front we can see that the average life expectancy of women having risen from 31.7 years in 1950-51 to about 70 years in 2016. Institutional births have risen to an all time high. The maternal mortality rate has dropped by half in the decade 2001-03 and 2011-13.
Women’s financial inclusion has also increased tremendously especially in the last few years.
Government has taken a number of measures to ensure its female citizens have equal opportunities. A number of legislations have been passed and schemes implemented to encourage women in education and the formal workforce.
We have initiated the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ Programme that addresses the complex mindsets of people. If people are not made to change the way they think about girls and women, we are unlikely to see much long-lasting success in other initiatives for empowerment.
The Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana launched in 2015 under which small affordable deposits are made in the bank accounts of girls, with the benefit of higher rate of interest, and the amount can be withdrawn by a girl on reaching 18 years of age, giving her a fund for higher education.
Jan Dhan Yojana has enabled banking services for the unbanked. 16.42 crore women’s accounts have been opened under Jan Dhan.
Under the Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana, our government has provided credit to small entrepreneurs without the need of a collateral and 75% of these loans have been given to women
Over 47 lakh Self Help Groups have been promoted under the National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM). There is a 37% jump in loan amounts granted to women SHG’s in last financial year.
Under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, a large number of women candidates have taken up Industry relevant skill training.
The Maternity Benefit Act has been amended to extend the period of mandatory paid maternity leave for working women to 26 weeks.This empowers working women as they need not fear loss of salary or job due to child birth.
Having women in senior positions is a positive step in recognizing the merit of deserving women. The representation of women in Boards of Companies and at seniour positions is thus being encouraged in all public and private companies.
Workplaces need to be made conducive to women employees. For this we have the Sexual Harrassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.This provides a safe and secure environment to women at the work place. There is an online complaint system for cases of sexual harassment at workplace.
Within their homes too, women contribute a huge amount of work which is unpaid and often unrecognized. To empower women and protect their health, the Ujjawala Scheme has been introduced, which provides free LPG cylinders to women from BPL families to replace unclean cooking fuels.
The Nirbhaya Fund is also being used to roll out comprehensive plans to make 8 major cities in the country safer for women and also improve our forensic analysis abilities in cases of sexual assault.
It is the focus of Government now to ensure that no woman is left behind in the march towards empowerment. The way lies in the conviction that we must have women-led development rather than just women’s development. This sentiment forms the basis of our government’s strategy.
Women need a safe and enabling environment which encourages their empowerment. As India looks forward to reaping benefits from the demographic dividend, the role of enpowered women becomes all the more important who would in turn help in contributing to nation- building.