We must empower women to grow as a society: Modi

Last Updated: Mon, Apr 08, 2013 07:55 hrs

Here are some highlights from Modi's speech at the FCCI women's meet: 

Modi on reservation for women:

"Gujarat has tried to make a new law reserving 50% of all elected posts in the state for women. However the Governor of Gujarat, despite being a woman herself, has stalled the bill."

On female foeticide:

"Sometimes we behave as if we exist prior to the 18th century.

At least in the 18th century daughters had the fortune of being born and living for a few moments, to look at their mothers and relatives, before they were killed. But in the 21st century daughters are killed in the womb itself. Just when the news that the child may be a girl is received, people abort the fetus. Both men and women are responsible for this in equal numbers.

Is there any better proof of how we have regressed backwards when compared to the 18th century?

The time has come to end this distinction and discrimination between a son and a daughter.

I have seen many households where there are four sons and the parents are on the streets. And I have seen many homes where daughters have refused to marry, choosing instead to stay behind and look after their parents for the rest of their lives, doing it far better than any son."

Women entrepreneurship in Gujarat: 

"Lijjat papad is a group of tribal women from Gujarat who started as a cooperative on a loan of Rs. 80. Today their business has gone to crores. Indu behn - Khakra - there was a TV series inspired by that. 

We often think that major multi-nationals like Pizza Hut cannot be beaten. However in Ahmedabad, Jasuben Pizza, began and run by a women who has since passed away, gives direct and effective competition to Pizza Hut. Educated, well-dressed Gujarati's prefer it to Pizza Hut.

I do not believe that men have any major role in the milk revolution in India. They have a minimum role at best. We speak about Amul, but who is responsible for Amul - It is the women in the hundreds of villages who run the co-operative.

All of this proves that while women are completely capable of running business. However men refuse to let them join the decision-making process. We must change this mindset.

Using policy we must strengthen the ignored 50% of the population. If we bring them into the mainstream, then truly we can change India and bring true unified growth.

The examples I am giving you has nothing to do with the government. Narendra Modi or the Gujarat government has no role in the success of these women entrepreneurs. We are facilitators at best."

Contribution of women in society: 
"Ganga Ba was a widow in Gujarat in the previous century. She was widowed at the age of 14. However despite the social situation at the time, she worked hard and made a respectable living for herself.

It was she who gave Mahatma Gandhi the idea of the spinning wheel when the two met.

We have established an award in her name as well.

My point is that women have always contributed to our society, even in adverse situations. We must ensure that we continue to motivate, promote and help their efforts."

Advice to FCCI: 

"Please set up an editorial board and collect women entrepreneurship stories through the Internet for the rest of the year. And by the time the FCCI event occurs the next year, we should release a book with the collected stories of such female entrepreneurs."

On Panchayat reform: 

"Whichever village elects an all-women panchayat, we have decided to give them a special status and special grant. Today in Gujarat over three hundred villages are run by such elected all-women panchayats.

There are even such villages where such panchayats have been re-elected for a second term."

On women empowerment: 

"After the Bhuj earthquake, we decided to register the new homes that we constructed as compensation in the name of the head woman of the household. Later we expanded that policy to all Govt schemes where the Govt constructed a home.

This was done to encourage female land ownership, which has been historically suppressed. We even waived stamp registration fees if the house was registered in the name of a woman.

Even in schools, where once only the father's name was needed, we have made it so that the mother's name is entered first. Such little things have a large impact in the long run."

Modi's reminder - 

He asked his audience that remember that for every thing one of their happiness, be it the clothes they wear or anything else - it was the result of not just their own efforts, but rather it was the end result of a long chain filled with poor or disadvantaged people who worked hard to give us our luxuries. 

Questions to Modi:

What is your weakness?

"Every man has some shortcomings. I have all the shortcomings of any average person. But I try to keep bettering myself, to leave behind shortcomings. But every man has some good and some bad, but I am lucky to meet people such as these events where I am improving myself.

However we are not always aware of our own weaknesses. I encourage all of you to join me on social media forums like Facebook and Twitter and criticize or praise me there> i am easily available on such forums. While friends do give me feedback, I really encourage you to go there and speak to me."

What work is still unfulfilled in Gujarat?

"A lot of work is left to be. What is done so far can be said to be merely filling the potholes made by my Congress friends. And only now we have bought Gujarat to a level playfield. The work of advancing Gujarat has only begun. There is a lot to be done."

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