Finance Minister (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday implored women to come out of their “comfort zones”, stating that while there are laws to ensure more representation to women in governing boards and as independent directors in companies, her experience in the government is that it is difficult to find women.
Sitharaman was addressing a gathering after Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat unveiled the findings of a survey on Status of Women in India by a Sangh Parivar-backed women’s organisation. One of the findings of the survey is that none of the 24 Parliamentary standing committees has had a woman head.
The FM said it was her experience as the commerce and defence minister in the previous term of the Modi government, and now as the finance minister, that women do not come forward to stake claim. She said it is not that there is a dearth of capable women, but they just “do not bother” to come out.
The FM said laws for more participation of women should not get reduced to “tokenism”, and while laws that make increased women’s representation mandatory are needed, but it is equally important for women to come out of their “comfort zones” and take up challenges.
She said women should understand they should come out and speak. The FM hoped the findings of the survey would help in policy-making.
Bhagwat said men should not have the audacity to think it is up to them, or that they have the strength to uplift women, and only women will uplift themselves. The study, conducted by Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra, a Pune-based organisation, interviewed nearly 75,000 women for over two years across 465 districts of 29 states and five union territories. It found that female literacy rate among its sample size was 79.63 per cent; female employment rate is the highest among scheduled tribe women.