2nd G-20 Empower Meet in Thiruvananthapuram

Apr 06: The Second G-20 Empower Meet commenced today in Thiruvananthapuram with the theme ‘Women’s Empowerment: A win-win for Equity and Economy’. Addressing the delegates, panellists and participants of the two-day Empower meet, Minister of State for Women and Child Development (WCD), Dr Munjapara Mahendrabhai called for working towards creating an ecosystem that nurtures women’s entrepreneurship and leadership ensuring greater access to mentoring, capacity-building, and financing to help them scale up their businesses.   MoS, in his inaugural address, also urged to focus on promoting women-led development with an emphasis on entrepreneurship, STEM education, and grassroots women’s leadership. One of the key areas of focus is women’s entrepreneurship, which India sees as vital for achieving gender equality and economic growth. India has already made significant strides in this area with over 230 million women availed of business loans, generating entrepreneurship opportunities at the grassroots of India.

MoS also stated how India is empowering women and girls through access to resources, financing, and digital literacy – over 257 million Jan Dhan bank accounts were opened for women, increasing access to financial services and promoting digital payments. The country has a strong track record of supporting women leaders in non-conventional sectors, such as the armed forces with around 2091 Women Officers receiving Permanent Commission in the Indian Armed Forces.

Going forward, MoS stated that under the G20 Empower, India envisages the creation of a global mentoring and capacity-building platform, establishing a sustainable financing model and setting up an e-marketplace to support and promote women-led businesses.

MoS recalled the  Prime Minister’s exhortation, “Women are the backbone of our society. They play a pivotal role in shaping our future. Empowering them is not only our moral responsibility but also a necessary condition for sustainable development.”

Speaking about the policy actions in regard to women in India, the Minister of State stated that we must not let half of our population remain under-utilised and underrepresented

In his address, Secretary, WCD, Shri Indevar Pandey emphasised that in keeping with the Prime Minister’s vision of including women as active agents in the growth story of all G20 nations, India leads by example by focusing on women’s issues in the life cycle continuum approach. Secretary, WCD stated how Ayushman Bharat (AB), a flagship scheme of GoI, addresses the healthcare system (covering prevention, promotion, and ambulatory care) at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels by providing free of cost treatment to over 500 million citizens of India, of which, 49.3% of beneficiaries are women. In addition, 82.7 million women have been scanned for breast cancer & 56.6 million women for cervical cancer free of cost.

Secretary, WCD also stated that 310 million oxo-biodegradable sanitary products had been provided at 0.012 USD (Rs. 1) through Government Pharmacies (Jan Aushadhi Kendras) promoting menstrual hygiene among women. He further highlighted that building on the overarching spirit of women-led development, the G20 Empower meeting at Thiruvananthapuram brings together some of the top women leaders, scientists, inventors, entrepreneurs, cultural artists and social visionaries from India and around the world. Secretary WCD urged every G 20 delegate guest country and International organisation representatives to go beyond their threshold and exceed their own expectations of their individual contributions towards women’s empowerment.

He concluded by reaffirming India’s commitment towards Women Led Development, by recalling the words of the Minister for Women and Child Development, Smt. Smriti Zubin Irani, who, on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference of Women stated as follows: “Women numerically constitute half of humanity, but their influence transfuses all dimensions of society, polity, and economy. In India, we recognize the centrality of gender equality and women’s empowerment in all aspects of our developmental journey.”

In her welcome speech, G-20 EMPOWER Chair, Dr Sangeeta Reddy highlighted that  43% of STEM graduates in India are women – which is one of the best in the world; India has one of the world’s best community programs in place (with nearly 4 lakh Self Help Group (SHG) members trained as Community Resource Persons (CRPs) (viz. Pashu Sakhi, Krishi Sakhi, Bank Sakhi, Bima Sakhi, Poshan Sakhi etc.); and digitization is bringing about a massive change enabling financial and economic inclusion of women.

Having embarked on a unique digital trajectory, India today leads in the deployment of Digital Public Infrastructure – be it the Unified Payment Interface (UPI) based on the principle of interoperability provides frictionless payments; the Jan Dhan–Aadhaar–Mobile (JAM) trinity has enabled financial inclusion; the Direct Benefit Transfer scheme has revolutionised the delivery of welfare schemes. Dr Reddy highlighted the progress made on the Mentorship Platform- which envisages support to G20 member women professionals and entrepreneurs to access 1-on-1 mentorship for professional guidance and the Digital Inclusion Platform-which will be an education and upskilling portal. Dr Reddy stated that India’s gift to the women of the world will be the digital inclusion and fluency platform available in 121 languages and drawing on content from across countries.

The Opening session was preceded by the inauguration of an exhibition by the  MoS, WCD. Curated by the National Institute of Fashion Technology, the exhibition highlights women’s impact on the economy and traditional enterprises and showcases women’s role in conserving Kerala’s rich culture.

The second G20 EMPOWER meeting under India’s presidency underscores the vital role of gender equality and women’s economic representation in achieving sustainable development. The 2-day meeting will witness panel discussions on various key topics such as ‘Advancing Women’s Entrepreneurship through Mentoring and Capacity Building, Market Access and Financing, Role of STEM Education and Innovation for Scaling up Businesses, Enabling Leadership at all Levels including Grassroots, Increasing Investment for Quality & Reach of Education, Digital Skilling and Jobs for Future.

EMPOWER is the G20 Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation that endeavours to be the most inclusive and action-driven alliance among businesses and governments to accelerate women’s leadership and empowerment across G20 countries. The G20 EMPOWER 2023 under India’s presidency aspires to align with Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s vision of women-led development agenda.

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