“Women empowerment is crucial to India’s growth. Days of seeing women as ‘home makers’ have gone, we have to see women as nation builders!” Tweeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2014. And in 2017, the world saw the first ever women defence minister of India, the largest democracy in the world.
The inclusive model developed by the government of India where it puts women development at the centre resulted in the redefining of politics in India in the year 2019. Indian politics has seen a renaissance in the 2019 Parliament election where in 13 states and Union territories more women voted as compared to men. Citizens came together to support the nationalist development politics outshining caste politics on the Indian land.
The spectacular initiatives led by Prime Minister of India, Mr Narendra Modi keeping women at the centre of development during the last 5 years of his terms contributed to this massive mandate. The recent years saw women getting space and respect to contribute equally as a nation builder. Appointment of the first ever women defence minister, Nirmala Sitaraman in free India set an example in this regard.
It is equally important to understand that the political mandate of 2019, in the largest democracy of the world has the voices which were unheard earlier, the voices of Dalits, underprivileged and women.
The false narratives which was being deployed by the lutyens sitting in the national capital, New Delhi and opposition around women vote banks have collapsed vehemently. The lack of foresight of the opposition’s parties which remain engrossed in caste politics and remained busy creative false narratives around development taking place in rural India contributes a large part into their loss.
The various programmes like Ujjawala, free Liquefied petroleum gas into the poor household, construction of toilets in rural India under Swachha Bharat Mission and skills programs like Stand up India, Mudra yojana have played a crucial role in bringing together the vote banks for the BJP and NDA Government. .During election campaigns when Prime Minister was being abused with derogatory statements like “chaukidar chor hai”, demeaning him being a chaiwala (tea-seller) or be it being criticised for having photographers around while visiting his mother, women across the country right from the grassroots living in poverty to the cities thriving for equity trying to break the glasses were creating their own narratives based on truth and changes they have themselves seen in their own life as a woman.
Having LPG connection in their kitchen or having first bathroom in their house, it was these women at the last periphery of India who were ready to redefine the mathematics of political pundit’s across the country. The message of girl child education, making law stringent for rapist or be it his Mann ki baat where Prime Minister frequently addressed the nation through radio ,every initiative strike a direct chord of Prime Minister with lakhs of women across the nation and successfully established the echo for belief on development of India.
While refereeing to women in his every single public interaction as “behno” sister, he echoed the identity of women in India. This was a rare phenomenon where any Prime Minister have referred to women folk understanding their value. His reference of (bhaiyo evam behno-brother and sisters)” have been made fun by oppositions at various forum but his citing of woman folks as sister in his every single speech have established an amical chord with the women in India.
When the discourse of Tukrey gang (pseudo nationalist) was going on in the country, there was an in built momentum at the grass root of India where women were being equal participants as the nation builder. Quietly they were observing waiting to cast their votes. The humane understanding of what it means to defecate with dignity by women in villages was being misunderstood by those sitting in Delhi, They were busy defining their very own subjective narratives of feminism in the Lodi Road and Khan Market .On the other hand the real feminist sitting in millions at the villages were establishing a direct connection with the leadership of the Prime Minister Narendra Damodar Das Modi which was inclusive and was redefining equity.
One of the another striking factor for this huge mandate by the women remain the direct implementation of the development programmes right at the bottom of the pyramid. Self-help groups played a crucial role as the messenger of development activities led by PM. Women sitting at the last periphery of diverse country like India were directly being befitted by the schemes, whether it was related to their basic right of having bathrooms constructed in their house, or basic household need to cook without smoke or having an opportunity to participate equally in the economic development through Stand up or Mudra Yojana.
The gender sensitive statement of Prime Minister where he spoke about the women being important nation builder rather just being a home maker, started instilling the confidence of women in him and there was a spark in their eyes which got well transformed in the massive vote bank and victory for the second term of the Prime Minister. The pseudo narratives developed around Triple talak, was brutally thrashed by the Muslim women voters where they voted for him. It won’t be an exaggeration to say India has seen a new sunrise where woman have proven themselves as an equal informed participant in nation building . This victory will realign the role and importance of women as voters in the largest democracy of the world where in future woman voters will not be taken for granted.
Sugandha Munshi is working in India since a decade on women issues. She has been a recipient of National Women Achiever Award “Aaadhi Aabadi 2014 in India for her work on gender issues. She is a Global Shaper of the World Economic forum and a youth ambassador in South Asia for WYSE, London.