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Is Nirmala becoming the flag-bearer of Modi’s global brand of women empowerment?

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman's US visit is being closely monitored

India as the chair of the G20 nations is determined to make a difference in the field of gender equality and women’s empowerment by turning challenges into opportunities and pushing for diversity in all walks of life.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, who participated in a panel discussion on “Empowering Women as Entrepreneurs and Leaders” organised by the World Bank in Washington pointed out that India has been focusing on ‘women-led’ development and not just ‘women-centric’ development. World Bank President David Malpass said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been “deeply interested and concerned” with the gender issue.

“Starting a business is a powerful tool for women to build a better future. Enabling access to finance, skills and digital technology is key,” Malpass said.

Surely, India has raised the pitch to push the gender agenda and women’s participation with an outcome-oriented effort on skill, access to credit for women. Boosting women’s entrepreneurship is also a thrust.

“Taking forward this cultural and civilisation ethos, India believes that the gender agenda is urgent and must take centre-stage. The G20 EMPOWER — Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation 2023 under India’s presidency promises to be a catalyst to create an ecosystem for empowering women, supporting their aspirations and creating substantive opportunities for women and girls across G20 countries,” an official statement said.

G20 EMPOWER is an alliance of the members focusing on women’s participation.

On the last Independence Day Modi while addressing the nation from the rampart of the Red Fort, said that women’s participation and their role will form the pillar of India’s growth.

While the contribution of women to India’s GDP is 18 per cent, the Centre’s aim is to significantly increase the number.

Official data reveal that of the 460 million plus bank accounts that have been opened under the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana; 56 per cent are owned by women.

Modi has repeatedly underlined the need to respect “Nari Shakti.”

“Our Nari Shakti is being represented in all sectors- in police, villages etc. The more opportunities we give to our daughters, the more they will take us forward,” he said, adding that it is important to ensure that nothing lowers the dignity of women.

On March 8—marked as International Women’s Day, Modi tweeted, “We greatly cherish the role of women in India’s progress. Our government will keep working to further women empowerment. #NariShaktiForNewIndia.”

The Centre is also taking a host of steps to boost the women’s self help groups which would empower lakhs of women in the rural areas. While the SHG members have grown exponentially in the last few years, participation from the minority communities has also increased.

Giriraj Singh, Minister, Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Giriraj Singh earlier announced that he is toying with the idea of creating a Women SHG (Self Help Group) Bank which will fund innovative ideas and products.

The G20 presidency has provided a window to India to make a mark in the field of gender equality. It must make an impact on the global stage.

Also read: PM Modi salutes Nari Shakti on International Women’s Day