President Obama Tells India “Nations Are Only Successful When Women Are”

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President Obama made a trip to the largest democracy in the world, India, and it became a rather memorable occasion. He met with newly elected Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and also addressed the people of India via the press. They spoke about some important policies including one which both President Obama and PM Modi agree on: women’s empowerment.

After being sworn in, Narendra Modi issued a statement to the Indian people talking about the policies and issues he would be focusing on during his time in office. Given the recent reports of rape, assault and gender violence that has been committed towards women in India it was highly appropriate Modi made a stand for this.

We all know POTUS has a strong view when it comes to empowering women, so it was a match made in heaven when the two world leaders sat down together. At an address in Delhi, President Obama spoke of the importance of educating and empowering girls just as much as boys. And in a country like India where women are definitely not considered equal to men in society, it was a timely message.

“We know from experience that nations are more successful when their women are successful,” he said.

“This is one of the most direct measures of whether a nation is going to develop effectively – how it treats its women. When a girl goes to school, it doesn’t just open up her young mind, it benefits all of us.”

“Maybe some day she’ll start her own business, or invent a new technology or cure a disease. And when women are able to work, families are healthier, communities are wealthier, and entire countries are more prosperous.”

Just to give you an idea of how unwanted women are in society in India compared to men, there is a high number of abortions being carried out in cases where women find out they are pregnant with a girl.

Sex selection in India has been banned in some areas, but the disparate numbers of boys being born compared to girls is evidence that the horrific practice still occurs. According to UNICEF, there are still many doctors who travel the country and contribute to this (what else could you call it but) genocide because people are willing to pay top dollar. Disgusting!

The documentary ‘It’s A Girl‘ follows the lives of aid workers in India and other south-east Asian countries who fight to change the patriarchal culture that perpetuates gendercide, and which teaches young men that women are not valuable.

India’s 2011 census showed that while the overall female-to-male ratio had risen marginally since the last census a decade earlier, fewer girls were born than boys, a press release states.

The number of girls younger than six years old plummeted for the fifth straight decade, and the child sex ratio was 918 girls to every 1,000 boys in 2011, compared with 927 in 2001 and 976 in 1961, census figures showed.

Obama was reportedly impressed with the number of women who participated in his three-day visit, including the armed forces parade.

“If nations really want to succeed in today’s global economy, they can’t simply ignore the talents of half their people,” he said to rapturous applause from around 2,000 people packed into a South Delhi auditorium.

“And as husbands and fathers and brothers, we have to step up because every girl’s life matters, every daughter deserves the same chance as our sons, every woman should be able to go about her day, to walk the streets, or ride the bus and be safe and be treated with respect and dignity. She deserves that.”

Elsewhere in India (Haryana to be exact), Narendra Modi launched two important campaigns called “Beti bachao, beti padhao” and “Sukanya Samriddhi account” in a bid to encourage birth and education of girls and tackle the abysmally low child sex ratio of 918 girls for 1000 boys.

He put the smackdown on Indians for “double standards” in killing daughters but desiring educated daughters-in-law, and he also chose to attack doctors who assist in sex selective abortions.

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In a speech that was met with much applause, he said, “We cannot call ourselves citizens of 21st century by practicing such a crime and we by our mindsets belong to 18th century when daughters were killed soon after they were born.”

Referring to Haryana, he said it was very painful for him to see that in a state which produced a woman like Kalpana Chawla, the first Indian woman to have traveled in space, “other Kalpana Chawlas are killed in the wombs of their mother”.

The campaign will be initially implemented in the 100 districts, including 12 in Haryana, and across the country where the sex ratio is rather poor.

Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi who attended the event with PM Modi said 2000 girls are killed every day in the country and that it was “shameful”. The initiative plans to reward villages that balance out the gender ratio, as there have been villages identified where girls have suspiciously not been born for years.

“There are countless number of families where parents are unhappy despite having sons and where parents are happy due to their daughter,” he said.

Citing the incident in 2006 which a five-year-old boy Prince was rescued in an over 50-hour operation after he had fallen into a borewell in Kurukshetra, he said the whole country had prayed for him. He wondered why the same people become so insensitive when so many girl children are killed around them.

PM Modi also launched Sukanya Samridhi Yojna (girl child prosperity scheme), under which girl children below 10 years will have bank accounts with more interest and income tax benefits. It is similar to the Food Security Act which outlined food ration cards be issued to the senior female member of a family in poorer parts of India where poverty is dire. India is the first nation to implement a scheme like this, and this type of news gives us hope that day by day, as more awareness is created, change will happen.

The Indian National Congress party have been championing the cause of initiatives like this for quite some time so to see two opposing political parties (Narendra Modi is head of the BJP party) have a similar approach to women’s empowerment shows promise.

Now if only more world leaders would put aside their differences and recognize the need for greater human rights in many countries in desperate need.

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One Comment

  1. Pingback: Four Indian Biker Queens Rode Through 10 Countries To Promote Female Empowerment - GirlTalkHQ

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