As Independent India that worships the nation as Mother India celebrates its Diamond Jubilee, a thought flashes across my mind. Have we achieved the idea of women which we aspired for, at this stage? The answer has mixed gauges. But yes, the Nation and the Govt. is striving its best to give the women their share and space. In one of his recent speeches, PM Modi recalled women’s leadership of the Bhakti movement, which became the driving force of the freedom movement saying that “Our spiritual philosophy has forever acknowledged women at the centre of divine power. Women’s names always come first be it, Sita-Ram; Radha-Krishan; Gauri-Ganesh or Lakshmi-Narayan”. With India attaining 75 years of freedom, he urged women to lead from the front. And in this direction, the adorning of highest Constitutional post of President by a tribal woman is Govt’s symbolism of bridging the existing gaps and was a moment to cherish for every Indian.
The idea is that women led development can be ensured by ensuring women development first. Women development is the concept of uplifting women in different spheres by taking appropriate policy interventions and social measures. Once women are ensured level playing field, they can contribute to the development of the country.
Today women from different walks of life are scripting the success story of the nation. An inspiring example has been set by IFS officer (1987 batch) Ruchira Kamboj who recently took charge as India’s first Woman Ambassador to the United Nations. In 2018, three women were inducted as fighter-pilots in the Indian Air Force. For every young girl who was conditioned to believe she has gender-based constraints that prevented her from fighting for her motherland, this was a welcome departure. The granting of permanent commission to women in Indian Army is another epoch making event.
Even sports is no longer a men’s arena. Women like Mirabai Chanu, P.V. Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Bhavina Patel, Vinesh Phogat and many more from the Indian contingent in the commonwealth games again held our heads high by bagging medals. To make our policies and legislations women centric, we need more women representatives at all levels of Government. Women’s rising power can be gauged from the fact that we have 11 women in Council of ministers which is highest number in last 17 years. Also, India is expected to get its first woman CJI by 2027. As per the latest AISHE, the overall percentage of female graduates is increasing in core STEM degrees which were otherwise male dominated. Distinguished scientist Tessy Thomas, known as the Missile woman of India is the first woman scientist to head a missile (AGNI 4) project.
Even in the start-up sector, women are coming up with innovative and disruptive ideas. A classic example is of Falguni Nayar, CEO and founder of Nykaa (nayika among nayaks) who ventured into this sector at the age of 50 and made to the country’s billionaire club.
However, the picture is not all rosy. Not much has been done to bring Women Reservation Bill in Parliament. We need sizeable no. of women in decision making bodies. Even after 7 decades of independence, women constitute only about 13% of bureaucracy and we have had no woman Cabinet Secretary so far.
There are still miles to go to achieve the Idea of women led growth and development which the nation aspires for. We need a paradigm shift in perceiving strength of women and shun the hardwired stereotypes in our genes. For the country to flourish, women must scale new summits and be equal partners in driving progress. We cannot afford to lose on the inherent strengths of nearly half of our population. Because if development is not engendered, it will be endangered.
Let’s be hopeful that ‘Azadi Ka Mahotsava’ brings more opportunities for women to ensure Nari Shakti curates herself as the harbinger of women led development.
Era of women led development