Prime Minister Narendra Modi has underlined the contribution of women in society, noting that their economic empowerment fuels growth and their access to education drives global progress, while addressing the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women Empowerment on Wednesday.
“When women prosper, the world prospers,” he said while addressing the event in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, via video conference.
He further added that their leadership fosters inclusivity and their voices inspire positive change.
The Prime Minister said that the most effective way to empower women is through a women-led development approach and the country is making huge strides in this direction.
He emphasized that India's President Droupadi Murmu is setting an inspiring example herself.
Modi said that she leads the world's largest democracy and serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the world's second-largest defence force, even though she comes from a humble tribal background.
In this Mother of Democracy, the Prime Minister said, the ‘Right to Vote’ was granted equally to all citizens, including women, by the Indian Constitution from the beginning, and the right to contest elections was also granted based on equality.
The Prime Minister noted that elected women representatives have been key agents of economic, environmental and social change and informed that 46 percent of elected representatives in rural local bodies in India are women, numbering 1.4 million.
Underlining that the mobilization of women into self-help groups has also been a powerful force for change, the Prime Minister highlighted the self-help groups and elected women representatives emerging as pillars of support for our communities during the pandemic.
The Prime Minister gave examples of their achievements and mentioned the manufacturing of masks and sanitisers, and creating awareness about prevention of infection.
“More than 80 percent of nurses and midwives in India are women. They were our first line of defence during the pandemic. And, we are proud of their achievements,” he added.
Stating that women-led development has been a key priority for the government, the Prime Minister mentioned that around 70 percent of the loans, up to one million rupees, to support micro-level units under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana have been sanctioned to women. Similarly, 80 percent of beneficiaries under Stand-Up India are women, availing bank loans for green field projects.
Noting that clean cooking fuel directly impacts the environment and improves the health of women, the Prime Minister highlighted the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana and informed that nearly 100 million cooking gas connections have been provided to women in rural areas.
He also informed that the number of women in technical education in Industrial Training Institutes has doubled since 2014. Nearly 43 percent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates in India are women, and about one-fourth of space scientists in India are women.
“Behind the success of our flagship programmes like Chandrayaan, Gaganyaan and Mission Mars lies the talent and hard work of these women scientists,” he said.
Modi pointed out that India has one of the highest percentages of female pilots in civil aviation while female pilots in the Indian Air Force are also flying fighter aircraft.
Modi noted that women officers are being deployed in operational roles and fighting platforms in all our armed forces.
The Prime Minister highlighted the pivotal roles played by women as the backbone of rural agricultural families and as small traders and shopkeepers.
Underlining their close association with nature, the Prime Minister said that women hold the key to innovative solutions to climate change.
He recalled how women led the first prominent climate action in India in the 18th century when the Bishnoi community of Rajasthan, led by Amrita Devi, started the ‘Chipko Movement’ to prevent unregulated logging.
The Prime Minister informed that Amrita Devi along with several other villagers, laid down their lives for the cause of nature.
“Women in India have also been brand Ambassadors for ‘Mission LiFE - Lifestyle for Environment’”, the Prime Minister said as he highlighted their traditional wisdom to reduce, reuse, recycle, and re-purpose.
Under various initiatives, the Prime Minister added, women are actively getting trained in making solar panels and lights.
He mentioned the ‘Solar Mamas’ initiative that has been successful in collaborating with partner countries in the Global South.
“Women entrepreneurs are significant contributors to the global economy,” the Prime Minister said as he emphasized the role of women entrepreneurs in India.
Modi pointed out that in India, about 15 percent of unicorn startups have at least one woman founder and the combined value of these women-led unicorns is over 40 billion dollars.
The Prime Minister stresses the need to create a level platform where women achievers become the norm.
He emphasized working towards removing the barriers that restrict their access to markets, global value chains, and affordable finance while ensuring that the burden of care and domestic work is appropriately addressed at the same time.
Concluding the address, the Prime Minister lauded the focus of the Ministerial Conference on women's entrepreneurship, leadership and education and expressed delight at the launch of the ‘Tech-Equity Platform’ to enhance digital and financial literacy for women.
He also mentioned that under India’s G20 Presidency, a new Working Group on ‘Women Empowerment’ is being established.
He expressed confidence that untiring efforts in Gandhinagar will give immense hope and confidence to women around the world.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Modi also stressed on the need to find urgent and sustainable solutions for issues like climate change and global warming
The Prime Minister said that one can witness first-hand the simplicity in Mahatma Gandhi's lifestyle and his visionary ideas of sustainability, self-reliance and equality at Gandhi Ashram.
Modi expressed confidence that the dignitaries will find it inspirational.
He also mentioned visiting the Dandi Kuteer Museum and informed that Gandhi's famous spinning wheel or Charkha was found by a woman named Gangaben at a village nearby.
The Prime Minister said that Gandhi wore Khadi thereafter, which became a symbol of self-reliance and sustainability.