Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday urged society to treat sons and daughters without any differentiation and give them an equal opportunity, asserting that if a society slips in recognising girls' abilities then it can never progress.
Modi made these remarks while answering a question in an interaction with students during "Pariksha Pe Charcha", and noted that things have now changed from a time when discrimination between boys and girls was perceptible.
Girls are estimated to outnumber boys among new students, he said, adding that every Indian can now be proud of the spirit and aspirations of girls.
"Now, girls have become a big asset and strength for every family. The more this change occurs, the better it is," he said.
Noting that there used to be a time when many parents believed that their limited resources were better spent on sons so that they can take care of them later as they expected daughter to not work and instead settle down in their in-laws' house, he said such a mindset may still exist in some places but things have by and large changed.
Sons and daughters should have equal status in society. "It is the requirement of this era. It is the requirement of every era," the prime minister said and cited noted women personalities like Ahilya Bai and Lakshmi Bai to note the impact they made in their fields.
Equal opportunities for girls should be institutionalised, he said, adding that they are excelling in various fields ranging from sports to science. There are more women parliamentarians now than ever, and their numbers are rising in police and security forces, he said. Girls also repeatedly outshine boys in board exams, he said.
While half of the elected panchayat posts in Gujarat are reserved for women, they have also been winning in general seats, highlighting the society's confidence in their abilities, he noted.
Modi also made a reference to women's presence in large numbers in nursing and teaching fields, and said in a lighter vein that men may take out a rally demanding that their quotas be fixed.
"If boys and girls are given an equal opportunity, then the latter may do better," he said.
The prime minister said he had seen daughters who did not marry so that they could take care of their parents, and had also seen parents living in old age homes even though their sons lived a happy life away from them.