Indian Navy’s all six women crew of INSV- Tarini who completed India’s first all-women circumnavigation expedition of the globe was conferred prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar. The expedition lasted for 254 days, which included 199 days at sea, covering a total of 21600 nautical miles. The voyage was undertaken in consonance with National policy to empower women to attain their full potential. It also aimed to showcase India’s Nari Shakti on world platform and help revolutionize societal attitudes and mindset towards women by raising visibility of their participation in challenging environments. President Ram Nath Kovind approved Nao Sena (Gallantry) medal for the six women crew members of Indian Naval Sailing Vessel (INSV) Tarini, who circumnavigated the globe, braving treacherous seas and displaying “raw courage”. In a society where women’s skills are confined to gender roles, for the first time the sketch and norms set by male dominant society were broken by a crew of six naval women officers. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman who is the second lady to hold this office after Indira Gandhi in 1975, made sure that women are breaking the societal norms through the Defence forces of the country. She commissioned ‘Tarini’ and received them after their journey in Goa. These six women naval officers are an inspirational force for women who are wanting to break out of conventional roles.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his 72nd Independence Day speech announced permanent commissioning for women in the forces, as earlier they were given only short-term assignments which out casted them from receiving retirement benefits. He also made sure that in the field of science and technology women can be the first to take our tri colour flag to space in India’s first manned space mission ‘Gaganyaan’. Social policy changes act as catalyst in achieving women’s participation in the skilled work force. Current BJP led government is making sure that women are given equal opportunity like men for serving their skill set in various fields. Women comprise approximately 48.5% of the total population and by encouraging their participation in multi sectors we will be able reduce the current gender gap. Government is making sure that their talent and expertise is utilized as well as they are contributing their share in the national work force. When the top leader of the country envisages ‘women’s participation’ in their future vision for India’s development, it gives a clear message to the masses, that they are no more confined to roles based on gender. Breaking all the stereo type barriers set up by the society, women are able to come in the forefront due to the policy initiatives taken up by the current government.
PM Narendra Modi led Government has been prioritizing gender responsive investments, policies and programs. In the last four years, they have introduced numerous schemes for women one being ‘Ujjawala’ scheme which has been the largest direct initiative for women in rural and urban households, benefitting 8000 crore women. ‘Udaan’ scheme was launched by CBSE to encourage girls for higher technical education, BetiBachaoBetiPadhao Yojana, Maternity Benefit (Amended) Act, SukhanyaSamriddhi Yojana, Dhanlakshmi Yojana, Triple Talaq Bill have been some major initiatives taken up by the government for empowering women across the country.
Women are known as the generation changer, transformers of institutions, society, mother of the human raceand have been treated with dignity and respect, though at times we do find that their basic human rights have been violated. Women have advanced in every walk of life right from invading male dominant sectors or breaking out from the confinement of household chores and family duties. To keep up with the pace of Indian economy, they need to be encouraged to participate in more decision-making roles. Globally, the labour force participation rate (LFPR) among prime working age women (aged 25–54) stands at 63% compared to 94% among their male counterparts. The global gender pay gap is 23%. Central and Southern Asia is the only region where prime working-age women’s LFPR has fallen consistently since 1997, from 42% to 37%, according to the latest 2017 estimates. Countries in the region recording the largest declines since 1997 in LFPR for women aged 25–54, India (8.1 percentage points).
Inspirational women figures are the new image consultants, as they go around and talk about their journey in achieving success, this has been a major factor in slowly changing the societal mindsets. More women need to be encouraged to take up roles for inspiring to achieve success in their respective fields. Economic power being the most important form of empowering women as it is a step forward for being self-reliant which transforms their capabilities and image in the society as well.A lot more can be done in the area of inspiring women and changing the mindsets of the society. One such being the promoting them to take up non-conventional roles, this will help in reducing the current gender gap in our society. PM Modi led Government has been instrumental in promoting Women Empowerment through various policies and initiatives.
(Research Fellow, SPMRF)