Vadodara: Asserting that empowerment of women and their rapid progress is necessary for the speedy development of the 21st century India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said making the lives of women easier and providing opportunities to them to move ahead are among the top priorities of his government.
India is making plans and taking decisions keeping in mind the needs and aspirations of women, he said, adding that his government has opened doors for women so that they can pursue career in the fields of their interest – be it armed forces or mines.
Modi was addressing a rally here after launching a project of the Gujarat government addressing the nutritional requirement of pregnant women and a similar programme targeting tribal women. On the occasion, he also unveiled via video link 18 railway projects worth Rs 16,000-crore, laid the foundation stone for the permanent campus of the Central University of Gujarat and the new building of Bharatiya Gati Shakti Vishwavidyalaya.
Gujarat Assembly elections are due by the end of this year.
“Rapid development of women, their empowerment is important for the rapid development of the 21st century India.
Today, India is making plans, taking decisions keeping in mind the needs, aspirations of women. From the armed forces to mines, my government has opened all doors for women to join the career of their liking,” he said.
“We have created many new programmes by taking into account all the stages of a woman’s life cycle. Making the lives of women easier, reducing their troubles and giving them opportunities to move ahead – these are some of the topmost priorities of our government,” the prime minister said.
Modi said when he took over as the chief minister of Gujarat two decades back, malnutrition was a big challenge.
“Ill-health not just affects a mother, but also the coming generations (her child). It determines the life of the child as well… Malnutrition was a big challenge here two decades ago when Gujarat gave me an opportunity to serve,” he said.
Since then, the government started working in this direction by taking steps one after the other, and its positive results are being seen today, he said after the launch of Rs 800-crore Mukhya Mantri Matrushakti Yojana that will ensure nutritional food to pregnant woman during the initial days of her motherhood.
Poshan Sudha Yojana, another programme that addresses the nutritional needs of pregnant women, has been expanded to all tribal-dominated areas of Gujarat, he said, adding that around 1.36 lakh tribal women will benefit from it on a monthly basis.
The prime minister also talked about sickle cell anemia prevalent among tribal population, and said it had existed for centuries in tribal areas, but many governments before him were indifferent towards it.
In order to the eradicate the disease, his government formed a society and ran big programmes, set up hundreds of centres and got lakhs of tribals tested, he said.
Modi said Gujarat always paid heed to the issue of nutrition, and ran several schemes, like Doodh Sanjeevani Yojana, to address it, which went on to show a direction to the country.
“The number of beneficiaries of such projects has today increased to around 58 lakh,” he said.
Modi named several women-oriented projects run by the central government, including e-Mamata portal, observing September as ‘Poshan Maah’ (nutrition month), Ujjwala Yojana, Nal Se Jal and Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana.
“We have tried to give more opportunities in the decision-making space to promote women in Gujarat at every level. Understanding the management ability of women, sisters have been given leadership roles in many projects at village level,” he said.
Houses being allocated to women under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) have made them owners of properties worth Rs 3,000 crore, he said.
Talking about the state’s urban poor and middle class beneficiaries, he said out of 10.5 lakh houses, the poor from urban areas have got 7.5 lakh houses and 4.5 lakh middle class families have been given support to construct houses. Also, handcart owners got benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Swanidhi Yojana, Modi added.