If you are an armchair feminist who is not so bothered about jawans and kisans of the country, and for you Modi Government is regressive and misogynistic in its approach towards women (as portrayed by the mainstream media), then you must hold your breath and tighten your seat belts, because you will be having an adventurous ride reading ahead.
First of all, besides every other domain and sector, women need adequate representation in politics. Hence, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown his faith in women leadership by giving them significant ministries and key designations. Some of these are: Nirmala Sitharaman as defence minister (only woman to hold this ministry after former PM Indira Gandhi), Sushma Swaraj as foreign and external affairs minister, Harsimrat Kaur Badal as food processing industries minister, Uma Bharati as drinking water and sanitation minister, Maneka Gandhi as women and child development minister and Smriti Irani as textile minister.
Talking about basic amenities and provisions, the government has launched ‘Suvidha’ sanitary napkins service under Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Pariyojna, in which oxo-biodegradable sanitary pads will be provided to women at a minimal cost of ₹2.50/pad. This is to encourage and promote hygiene and sanitation during the days of menstruation.
Wonder, what’s empowerment? During these five years, India has got its first all women SWAT force women commandos from North-East India. Sainik schools across the country have now opened admissions for girls also. Indian Army has opened vacancies for women to serve in corps of military police. That’s a major breakthrough for women in defence forces, because earlier they were eligible to enter only as officers and this is the first time they would be taken in as soldiers.
Under the ‘Sukanya Samridhi Scheme’, the guardian can open a fixed deposit account for the future of girl child’s education, and the interest received is at the rate of 8.5% (more than that of 8% interest on PPF).
People who have problem oriented approach, who make hue and cry over gender wage gap and create ruckus over it, don’t see that solutions are also being implemented. Under the Start-Up India campaign of Modi Govt., women entrepreneurs can take comparatively high amounts of loans to push their startup enterprise, at a lower rate of interest of loan repayment. The Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna provides home loans to homeless people to let them have permanent shelter. And to encourage women home buyers under this scheme, they are given preference by charging lower rates of interest and waiving stamp duties.
To provide safety to the women of rural areas from the perils of “traditional chulha”, the ‘Ujjwala scheme’ has distributed 7 crore LPG connections in rural India. Earlier, women had no choice except going far away from their homes for open defecation. Dropout rate from high school education was very high among girls, due to lack of separate toilets in schools of rural areas. But ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ (Clean India Campaign) has ensured 9 crore toilets being built in houses and schools of rural and semi-rural areas, and this number is still on the rise. This program has highly been eulogized and appreciated around the world. Though there is a lot to do, but at least the govt. is heading into right direction.
It is this government, which is blamed and labelled as communal. But ironically, it is the same government that had formulated the bill to prohibit triple talaq practice of Islam, for curbing the exploitation of Muslim women.
When M.J. Akbar (the then minister of state for external affairs) was accused of molestation cases in #MeToo campaign, he was made to resign from his designation. On the other hand, those who pointed out fingers on government to be misogynistic, they are still thriving in their organisations even after being held responsible of sexual assaults in the same #MeToo campaign. This is the same government which has made death penalty for child rapists possible, that was being averted by previous governments. The paid maternity leave for women has now been increased from 12 weeks to 26 weeks, under the ‘Maternity Benefit Amendment Act’.
Nobody is saying that sexism and patriarchal mindset does not prevail in the sections of society, or women have become much empowered that they don’t need to be heard. But instead of being in the mood of animadversion all the time, one can at least agree to the fact that some work is getting done and it would gain pace if appreciated honestly.