Pushing for unicorns in self-help groups for women, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said India has moved from women development to women-led development in the last nine years. Addressing a post-budget webinar on women empowerment, Modi highlighted that enrolment of women in the fields of engineering, science, technology and maths in the country today is at 43 per cent. "Can we make unicorns in self-help groups too, we have brought that vision in this year's budget," he said. Unicorns are companies that reach a valuation of USD 1 billion without being listed on the stock market.
The prime minister said around 70 per cent beneficiaries of Mudra loan are women. These women are not only increasing the earnings of their families but also opening new economic avenues for the nation, he said. Modi also linked India's progress with the level of respect and sense equality felt by women in the country. "India can move forward only by raising the levels of the respect for women and the sense of equality." The PM said this year's budget is an "auspicious beginning for achieving the target of Vikasit Bharat by 2047". "This year's budget will give a new momentum to the efforts of women-led development,” he said. “The results of efforts for women empowerment are visible and we are feeling a revolutionary change in the social life of the country," he said.
The prime minister underlined the Nari Shakti’s strengths of determination, will power, imagination, ability to work for goals and extreme hard work as reflection of ‘Matru Shakti’. He said these qualities are playing a major role in increasing the speed and scale of India in this century. He said that today, the results of efforts for women empowerment are visible and there is a revolutionary change in the social life of the country. He said the number of women compared to men is increasing, and the number of girls studying up to high school and beyond has tripled in the last 9-10 years. In fields like medical, sports, business or politics, not only the participation of women has grown but they are leading from the front, he said.
Highlighting different government schemes that have contributed to the development of women, Modi mentioned the PM Awas Yojna which he said has given women a new voice in economic decisions of the household. Similarly, women benefit from schemes for promotion of collateral free loans under SVANidhi and promotion schemes in animal husbandry, fisheries, village industries, FPOs and sports, he said "The reflection of how we can take the country forward with the help of half of the country's population and how we can increase the potential of women power is visible in this budget," he said. He mentioned Mahila Samman Saving Certificate Scheme where women are to get 7.5 per cent interest. “Rs 80,000 crore for PM Awas Yojna is also a step in the direction of women empowerment as most of the 3 crore houses are in the name of women,” Modi said.
He emphasized the empowering aspect of PM Awas Yojna in a scenario where, traditionally, women had no property in their name. “PM Awas has given women a new voice in economic decisions of the household”, he said. The prime minister informed about the announcement for the support to the self-help groups for creating new unicorns among SHGs. He illustrated the strength of the country’s vision for women empowerment with changing scenarios. "More than 7 crore women have joined self-help groups in the last nine years. Their value creation can be understood by their capital requirement as these self-help groups have taken loans worth 6.25 lakh crore," he said.
The prime minister pointed out that these women are contributing not only as small entrepreneurs but also as capable resource persons. He mentioned the Bank Sakhi, Krishi Sakhi and Pashu Sakhi programmes that are scaling new dimensions of development in villages. He pointed out that today one out of five non-farm businesses is run by a woman. The prime minister dwelled on the transformation in the cooperative sector and role of women in the sector. “More than 2 lakh multi-purpose cooperatives, dairy cooperatives and fisheries cooperatives are to be formed in the coming years. A target has been set to connect 1 crore farmers with natural farming. Women farmers and producer groups can play a big role in this,” the Prime Minister said.
Modi elaborated on the role of women self-help groups in promotion of Shree Anna. He said more than 1 crore tribal women with traditional experience in Shree Anna are part of these self-help groups. “We have to tap the opportunities related to marketing of Shree Anna to processed foods made from it. In many places, government organizations are helping to process minor forest produce and bring it to the market. Today, so many self-help groups have been formed in remote areas, we should take it to a wider level,” he said. Stressing the need for skill development, the PM said the Vishwakarma Scheme brought in this budget will play a major role and will act as a bridge and its opportunities need to be leveraged for women empowerment. Similarly, GeM and e-commerce are becoming ways of expanding women’s business opportunities, there is a need to prioritise new technologies in the training being given to the self-help groups, he said.
The PM reiterated that the country is moving with the spirit of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas and Sabka Prayas'. He said as the daughters of the country can be seen in national security roles and flying Rafale aircraft, and when they become entrepreneurs and take decisions and risks, thinking about them changes. He mentioned the recent election of two women MLAs in Nagaland for the first time, one of them took oath as a minister too. “India can move forward only by raising the levels of the respect of women and the sense of equality. I call upon all of you to move forward with the determination to remove every obstacle coming in the way of all women-sisters-daughters”, he said.
The PM concluded by quoting from the article of the President Droupadi Murmu, which she wrote on the International Women’s day. The president wrote, “It is up to us, each of us, to hasten the progress. Thus, today, I wish to urge each of you to commit yourself to one change, in your family, neighbourhood or workplace – any change that would bring a smile on a girl's face, any change that would improve her chances of moving ahead in life. That is one request, as I said before, straight from the heart.”