“The economic empowerment of women fuels growth and the most effective way to empower women is through a women-led development approach.”
~ Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
Stree Shakti has always been considered as mortal mirror reflection of the various manifestations of Adi Shakti who we worship in the form of Devi Durga, Dus Maha Vidya, Maa Lakhsmi, Maa Saraswati and many more. Stree Shakti has been no less than a blessing to this world. As mother, sister, wife, teacher or friend, she has perpetually been the epitome of silent support behind the success of every man.
Since time immemorial, Stree Shakti has been the silent foundation on which great civilizations and societies were created. Yet, a walk down the alleys of past centuries, one can witness innumerable tales of their horrific suffering and brutal oppression that the pages of history are replete with.
It was not just oppression but much more than that in some cases. In case of India, for decades there were deliberate attempts to willfully brush aside the immense contribution of countless iconic women in the freedom struggle of Bharat.
Names like Uda Devi Pasi, Kuyili, Rani Gaidinliu, to mention a few, barely get recognized by our own people. The list though infinitely long.
Fortunately though, Naya Bharat has been on a new journey for almost the last one decade to revive the glories of their passion, their sacrifices and their dedication toward this nation, by paving the path of creation of a new generation of women entrepreneurs and change agents.
From the time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi formed Government in 2014, recognizing the intrinsic essence of Nari Shakti has been witnessing a paradigm shift in terms of the due respect they now get, important responsibilities being bestowed upon them, and also in terms of efforts being made to unleash the true potential of Indian women in the society, and especially the economy.
Beyond the indispensable roles of being mothers, sisters, wife and daughters, women are also working shoulder to shoulder in the realm of business and governance as well. Not that it did not happen before, but the scale of their involvement has indeed gone up manifold in the last few years. Needless to say, it would not have happened without the active support from the top, led by PM Modi.
It is on record that over 70% of the MUDRA loan beneficiaries are women who are now like the shining armour of India’s MUDRA Yojana aimed at expanding the horizon of entrepreneurship, as well as providing institutional lending to micro enterprises at grassroots levels, to alter economic landscape of Bharat.
In the words of PM Modi, ‘Today, 10 crore women are associated with women self-help groups. If you go to a village, you will find women working with banks, you will find women working in Anganwadis, you will find women who give medicines.’
In fact, over the last nine years, the manner in which, under the leadership of PM Modi, MUDRA Yojana, Self-Help Groups and various other Central Government schemes such as PM SWANidhi or Stand-Up India, have been utilized as catalysts to change the landscape of Women Entrepreneurship in Bharat, must be immensely celebrated, cherished, and put up as examples for the rest of the world, to narrate as to what kind of transformation can happen in a society when women, who in Indian context constitute nearly 50% of the population, are financially empowered to boost the economic fortune of any country.
It must also be mentioned that sustained empowerment of women in India, has also acted as one of the key resilient factors for Indian economy that continues to stand tall in spite of several challenges the world faced over the last three years because of Covid pandemic, post pandemic economic challenges, supply chain disruptions as well as conflict triggered rise in price of critical commodities in the world. The reason being that the concept of livelihood was now no more dependent merely on availability of jobs but on making the availability of finance easier, and then let the creative minds find their own path of self-employment and entrepreneurship. In other words, making people self-sufficient in terms of earning livelihood through small business generation by they themselves was the key.
Interestingly, the impact of MUDRA loans on women entrepreneurs in Bharat is nothing less than being astounding. Its national impact in terms of making the society stronger by creation of a new generation of women entrepreneurs by breaking down the barriers can simply not be ignored. If we see the numbers, which are significantly growing, over 70% of MUDRA loan beneficiaries are women, reflecting their increasing participation in entrepreneurial ventures without any fear and with ease. Millions of women have availed MUDRA loans and are paving their way towards Atma Nirbharta or being Self Reliant.
Reiterating the importance of the resilience factor, it has often been seen that when the male earning member gets incapacitated due to unforeseen circumstances, or succumbs to ailments or accidents, the dependent family becomes helpless and stare at an uncertain future. The same happens in case of a sudden divorce. In such a scenario, the best way to make sure than no women or her children suffer, is by ensuring that she is in a position to earn her livelihood, not just merely by working somewhere else, but more so by becoming an entrepreneur herself, which would ensure a sustained future and through that, may also create a place to provide livelihood to others in need or in destitution. After all, there can never be employment for future unless employers are created today. That is exactly what PM Modi has been striving to do through various schemes to boost entrepreneurship and especially women entrepreneurship in India.
Since its inception, MUDRA loans worth Rs 23 lakh crore has been provided to 41 crore beneficiaries. Today it is not surprising to witness a young lady who was working in a beauty parlour, taking the bold steps of availing MUDRA loan to start her own venture as a beautician or a bridal make-up professional, or someone working in a ladies’ boutique, taking the initiative to start her own tailoring shop, or someone initiating a home-delivery business of lunch and dinner, or other food items.
From the perspective of women empowerment, these are incredible steps. It is these steps, especially the easy availability of collateral free capital through MUDRA Scheme, coupled with various skill development projects, that are now becoming the most critical enabling factors in empowering women, something that was not possible to imagine for decades in India, before 2015. One should not be surprised if many of such micro enterprises, with the right kind of support systems, eventually in future emerging as major brands like Nykaa Fasion or Sugar Cosmetics.
Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana thus stands as a beacon of hope for women empowerment, illuminating the path for women with aspiring dreams in Bharat.
It must be remembered, that if India today has emerged as the fifth largest economy of the world, if it is taking major steps to become a $5 trillion economy in the next few years, the importance of steps taken by PM Modi led NDA Government to reinvigorate entrepreneurship in India through MUDRA and various other schemes to make collateral free business capital easily available among the aspiring masses in India, has to be acknowledged.
Being a woman, it brings immense happiness and excitement to witness that we are the ones, inspired by PM Modi’s vision, who are standing tall shoulder-to-shoulder and contributing in shaping our country’s future and are not being brushed away under the carpet anymore,
Stree Shakti, from managing the home, to holding the gun in the battlefield, to emerging as architects of new enterprises, is finally getting unleashed to revive her glorious past, and that of Bharat.
(Joyita Pal works with Ministry of Culture, Government of India. Views expressed are her own)