New Delhi : Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) Science & Technology; Minister of State (Independent Charge) Earth Sciences; MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh today said, that Indian women are gradually evolving from participatory to leadership role and constitute an essential component of nation’s inclusive growth as envisaged by Prime Minister Modi.
Inaugurating a conference titled, “Women Leading Change in Health and Science in India” in New Delhi in the august presence of Ms. Melinda French Gates, Co-chair and Trustee Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr Jitendra Singh said, women leaders are a crucial part of the new India growth story, as projects, programmes and policies are now moving from women-specific to women-led, or we can say from an era of women participation to an era of women leadership.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, that the women power has already arrived, but there is a need for change in mindset. He said that time has come to avail the change being led by the women, as they are increasingly becoming initiators of policies, rather than passive consumers of government initiatives.
Dr Jitendra Singh referred to Prime Minister’s recent statement that India cannot achieve success if 50 per cent of the population being women are locked at home. He quoted Modi as saying, “From financial inclusion to social security, quality healthcare to housing, education to entrepreneurship, many efforts have been made to put our Nari Shakti at the forefront of India’s development journey. These efforts will continue with even greater vigour in the coming times”.
Dr Jitendra Singh lauded the noble intentions of Gates Foundations for committing around 40 million USD till July, 2022 through its collaboration with Department of Biotechnology (DBT) under Grand Challenges India (implemented by BIRAC) and the Foundation has an additional commitment of 25 million USD for the next five years. The Minister said, conferences like “Leading Change: Women in Health and Science in India” are good opportunities to showcase emerging changes in the way leadership is practised and perceived in India and how women can be promoted to leadership roles with the right mentoring and support. These platforms will certainly help in creating momentum toward parity and more gender-inclusive culture and policies, he added.
Dr Jitendra Singh said that women scientists have carved a niche for themselves in science-based Start-ups, STEM, IT, Space, Nuclear Science, Drone and Nano-technology and informed that many of the big scientific projects including that of Gaganyaan are being led by women scientists. He said, the remarkable success of the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, led by two female scientists from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), is an inspiration for all the women working in sectors like health, education, business, medicine, sports and agriculture.
Dr Jitendra Singh said, DBT and BIRAC have implemented a number of dedicated schemes and programs to promote women researchers and entrepreneurs across the country. The STEP-Support to Training and Employment Program launched under Start-up India initiative aims to provide skills that give employability to women and to provide competencies and skill that enable women to become self-employed/entrepreneurs.
In her address, Dr. Bharti Pravin Pawar, Union Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare said that under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, there is a special focus on women and girl child and added the NDA government has provided a level-playing field to women along with men. She said, women are better equipped to take leadership roles when they are given self-esteem, an equal opportunity for decision-making, access to opportunities, and the ability to influence social change. Dr Pawar underlined that Modi government is taking pro-active steps to bring the women workforce at par with the men workforce in all aspect.
Ms. Melinda French Gates said that policies designed for women must be made by women themselves. She asserted that the women must have a greater say in the decision-making process for its ultimate success.
Ms Gates was happy to note that in the last two years the Indian Government has taken measures for making the country gender equal literally through the bottom-up approach. She also lauded the emergence of the direct cash transfer scheme of the Indian Government during COVID-19. She added that nearly 200 million received direct cash benefits, which led to their empowerment and greater societal benefit.
Dr Rajesh S. Gokhale, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology & Chairperson, BIRAC said that Department of Biotechnology always took positive endeavours to put women leaders at the top of decision-making process. He said, women entrepreneurs in DBT are playing an important role and 30 percent of them are supported by BIRAC.
Dr Alka Sharma, Senior Adviser, DBT & Managing Director, BIRAC said that role of women in India’s healthcare system is recognized globally. She recalled that India’s one million all-women Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) workers, were honoured with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General’s Global Health Leaders Award 2022 for their crucial role in providing direct access to healthcare facilities in rural areas and their magnificent efforts to rein in the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
Ms. Amie Batson, Executive Director, WomenLift Health said, when India and the world is facing unprecedented challenges like climate crisis, covid-19 or future health challenges, India’s role will be critical to address those challenges. He said, investments in technical solutions are not enough, but efforts should be made to create change leaders, especially the women change leaders.
The conference being organized by Department of Biotechnology, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India and Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a PSU of DBT, in collaboration with WomenLift Health and Grand Challenges India is aimed at highlighting and promoting the importance of women’s leadership in health and science and seek to identify attainable pathways and goals to strengthen the representation of women in leadership positions in India and Global health ecosystem.