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About 75 per cent of the beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY) are female, Union minister Smriti Irani said today and stressed that it "speaks volumes of the competence" of the Indian women.
Speaking at the 'Raisina Dialogue' here, the Information and Broadcasting minister said under the PMMY, people could avail financial aid to start a new business or to expand the existing one by taking a loan of Rs 50,000 to Rs 10 lakh.
"75 per cent of the beneficiaries of the financial outreach programme (PMMY) of the prime minister are women. This means that in our country, we have women coming from small towns, walking up to bank manager, convincing them that their business plans make more sense than anybody else who walked into the same branch.
"Women participating in such a large number and paying back to bank speaks volumes of the competence of the Indian women today," she said.
The minister, however, said the fact that in unorganised sector, the number of women being much higher than the men also speaks of a "different story".
She also advocated for combined efforts of men and women to work for the empowerment of women, wondering why women only identify with their gender to be the problem-solvers.
"We have five women here (on the dais) from across the world, speaking for our entire gender, and convincing people why women should be a bigger part of decision-making. I think that is where the entire inequality that (comes in)," Irani said.
Without naming anyone, the minister said the "gentleman who is serving the interest of the women of this country is not here" while she could see a number of men in the room listening to the women on the dais.
"I think that should give us little pause for introspection that whether we as women only identify our gender to be the problem-solvers or do we view women and men equally participating in administration of applying themselves to solutions that men and women both need in our country," she said.
The minister also shared her experience before becoming MP or minister when she had walked into her employer's room and asked for a raise and got a reply that the men working with her "did not get anything".
"I said, well I am more competent and you need me in this job. So, what you decide for the gentleman is not my concern but I need this raise. And the fallout of that was that I did get the raise but other women started asking for what they want as well," she said.
Referring to the incident, the minister said examples need to be set where women were "not afraid" to ask for raise they deserve after proving their competence.
"This is where you need to empower a women where they can walk into a room after proving their competence saying I don't like this wage gap. Pay me," she said.
To a query whether she supports quota for women, Irani said, "I have seen a lot of women who otherwise not have been given opportunity to prove their competence."
Highlighting the works of the government, she said the Centre has built about a record of 4 lakh toilets in one year in government schools which has enhanced the enrolment of girls.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)