Women empowerment at the center of holistic growth in Gujarat

“Yatra Naryastu Pujyante Ramante Tatra Devata.
Yatraitaastu Na Pujyante Sarvaastatrafalaah Kriyaah”

Where women are honoured, there deities are satisfied; but where they are not honored, no sacred rites can yield rewards.

Gujarat state has a perfect image of a state where women empowerment has helped to write new chapters of human achievements and glories.

The positive impact of the increasing participation of women in the development of Gujarat is felt in all sectors and in all corners of the state. It is not wrong to say that women from remote corners of Gujarat “vouch for opportunities aplenty” in the state.

Apparently, one could say thank you to Prime Minister Narendra Modi whose lifelong commitment had propelled the state during his tenure to take steps to empower women.

Today, each gram panchayat has female representatives, including many sarpanches. An official familiar with the matter says that these women have proven themselves as qualified administrators. In the words of Prime Minister Modi himself – “In Gujarat, the total number of female panchayat representatives is greater than that of males”.

The growing presence of women in important and decisive village bodies has certainly helped the Western state and also the country to erase many social myths in many villages. Even in urban bodies, officials say, women’s representation has increased dramatically.

Modi’s initiatives during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat were groundbreaking. As Chief Minister, he had initiated ‘Nari Gaurav Niti’ and the program had made the contribution of women equally important in the development of the state and also increased their self-esteem.

Gujarat was the first state to implement such a holistic policy and gradually the state has also taken steps to prevent gender bias. Through the “Beti Bachao” campaign, the state has actually witnessed a significant improvement in the sex ratio among children.

“I am associated with many of these innovative pro-women ideas. I can guarantee that by reserving 33% women for government positions and 50% for 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 empowerment of women on the global stage itself is closely aligned with the empowerment of women – which is a basic “human right” that is also key to achieve a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Women’s empowerment could be defined as the promotion of women’s sense of self-esteem, their ability to determine their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves, society and the country.

Officials point out that due to Modi’s far-sighted vision in Gujarat, women’s participation in the dairy sector has taken on a whole new dimension. Today, the Gujarat Cooperative Society is successfully run by thousands of women. Sources further state that about five lakh female members are also actively contributing to forest management companies.

Modi’s dedicated Lieutenant Bhupendra Patel:

As Prime Minister Modi’s lieutenant, Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel is committed to the cause and is well focused.

“Government and society have a specific responsibility towards women and children; whatever we do for the empowerment of women will always fall short because there is always room for more,” the Chief Minister said.

In the last budget, the Suposhit Mata Swasth Bal Yojana was introduced. It focuses on 1,000 days of proper care and nutrition for mothers during pregnancy and breastfeeding, when mothers need extra calories and better nutrition.

The state will provide one liter of peanut oil and other nutritious foods for 1,000 days of a new mother’s life. This is an Rs 800 crore scheme.

Chief Minister Patel added: “Since Narendra Modi saheb was Chief Minister, there has been a sense of security for our mothers and sisters in Gujarat. It doesn’t matter what the festival is; even during Navratri, women are not afraid to go home late at night. It is the security offered”.

During his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi had also conducted innovative experiments in Gujarat in linking “women empowerment” to village level water management.

Monetary support:

Needless to say, “monetary support” to women, especially in rural areas of Gujarat, has played a crucial role in the growth of economic activities in Gujarat. Officials say that while the state is generally recognized for its entrepreneurial skills and innovative ideas, it’s also true that saving comes naturally and perhaps “better” for women.

The Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana is very successful and it has practically given women wings.

More importantly, an equal pay sale was introduced by a new state assembly act in 2019.

Take away food :

  • In 2006-07, the budget for women’s welfare was Rs 158 crore. In 2022-23, it jumped to Rs 3,511 crore. This means that the recorded quantum leap was over 22,000 increases.
  • A study by the Gujarat Development Research Institute focusing on feminized agriculture found that in Gujarat, 65% of women work in agriculture compared to only 44% of men.
  • According to the survey, in rural Gujarat, women with upper secondary education worked in textile factories or diamond units as day labourers, but not many in agriculture. Today, the scenario is changing and women are mainly interested in the marketing of products based on it.
  • Programs like Sukanya Samridhi Yojana are hugely successful and deserve to be emulated by other states. This program encourages parents of girls to make small investments for their education and a bright future.
  • Some time ago, data emerged claiming that more than 20,000 villages have been declared Sampoorna Sukanya Gram.
  • In Gujarat, the enrollment rate of girls in primary education is constantly increasing. In 2018-2019, it was 88.5% and it increased to 90.5% in 2019-2020.
  • Prime Minister Modi’s Selfie with Daughter was also a highly results-oriented innovative method to empower girls and eliminate bias/discretion towards women and girls.
  • Gujarat is the first state to provide insurance coverage to the families of deceased anagwanwadi workers through the Mata Yashoda Gaurav Nidhi Yojana.

Other highlights:

  • Created through 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 of this mission are:
  1. Creating high-level corporate leadership for gender equality
  2. Treat all people fairly at work, respecting and supporting non-discrimination
  3. Ensure the health, well-being and safety of all workers
  4. development for women
  5. Implement supply chain, marketing practices and enterprise development that empower women
  6. Champion equality through community initiatives and advocacy
  7. Take action and report publicly on progress towards creating gender equality.

Mara R. Wilmoth