World Economic Forum (WEF) 2024 – Union Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi prioritised sanitation and women’s dignity. She also cited the Union government’s initiatives like the Jan Dhan Yojana and MUDRA as measures that increased women’s financial access.
“In 2014 PM @NarendraModi prioritised sanitation and women’s dignity, soon constructing 110 million toilets. True success lies in comprehensive parity, extending beyond equal pay to empowering women in decision-making. Initiatives like Jan Dhan Yojana and MUDRA transformed women’s financial access by providing banking access to 230 million women,” Smriti Irani posted on X.
She said that legislative steps like the 33% reservation for women in parliament and the recent Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act signal commitment to gender justice.
“It is time for the private sector to join in and effectively implement internal complaint committees, 26 weeks of maternity leave and creches at the workplace. As we navigate forward, let’s redefine and champion equity and equality, ensuring no one, especially our children, is left behind,” she said in the post.
Meanwhile, Smriti Irani on Wednesday highlighted the importance of normalising conversations around women’s health. She said that women’s healthcare systems or conversations were never mainstreamed and called it one of the greatest challenges.
Smriti Irani on Women’s Health Programme
Speaking at a session linked to the Women’s Health Programme at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Smriti Irani said, “I think women’s healthcare systems or conversations never were mainstreamed and that has been one of the greatest challenges. How do you provide the solution to an issue that has never been spoken of? Mostly, there is a presumption that women do not want the psychological burden of their medical challenge to fall upon their family unit or hinder the economic progression of their contribution. And that is why they tend to either self-medicate or not medicate at all.”
She also spoke about the initiatives taken for women’s development after Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014. She said that 110 million toilets have been built in India under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sanitation for Women’s Health
Smriti Irani said, “From the Indian experience, let me provide you a big context. Post 2014, when Prime Minister Modi took office in the year 2010-11, there was a World Bank report which said that if there is a lack of sanitation facilities for women, there is a negative six per cent burden on the GDP of India. That being said, there is also the issue of security of women who were violated if they decided to defecate in the open now.”
Building Toilets for Women
“This information being available was politically and administratively acted upon by Prime Minister Modi who first said that if you want to ensure the health and dignity of women, let’s start building toilets now. So far from a cultural context, building toilets has never been politically glamorous. But Prime Minister Modi did that and we built under his leadership 110 million individual toilets which means it was an added impetus given to a woman’s menstrual health.”
On Menstrual Hygiene
She noted, “Under Prime Minister Modi, for the first time in the history of our country, we had an administrative protocol setup for menstrual hygiene management by governments at the centre, state, including administration at the district or the grassroot village, which means that the narrative about the women’s health was mainstreamed politically and administratively.”
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PM Modi had launched Swachh Bharat Mission in 2014 to achieve an Open Defecation Free India by October 2, 2019, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi.
Smriti Irani Credits PM Modi For Prioritising Women’s Dignity
Smriti Irani said PM Modi gave cooking fuel which was clean and subsidised to 100 million poor women. Citing the WHO report, the minister said that Indian government was able to save 400,000 lives per year of women only by providing access to clean cooking fuel.
“Prime Minister Modi said let’s look at the issue of access to safe cooking fuel. A 100 million poor women given cooking fuel clean, subsidised directly by Prime Minister Modi. We saved because there has been a WHO report we said we saved 400,000 lives per year of women only by providing access to clean cooking fuel. Then, there was the water promise, 130 million individual portable water connections given to poor families, women, who spent half a day either collecting firewood or collecting water for their domestic consumption, lessening their burden,” Smriti Irani said.
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