World Population Day was observed on July 11 across the world. India's demographic data reveals that the country's average age stands at 28 years, highlighting the significant potential of its youth in driving progress.
A young population-based demographic has emerged as a global economic force, and India is poised to harness this power. However, the success of this demographic dividend relies heavily on the participation of women in the workforce.
Currently, only 17 per cent of India's female population is engaged in formal employment, in stark contrast to China's 40 per cent. In Chhattisgarh, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's rural development schemes have empowered a substantial number of women, enabling their direct involvement in economic activities.
Under Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel's leadership, the establishment of Gauthan and RIPA has led to remarkable growth in economic activities. Since December 2018, over 13 lakh women have become members of self-help groups, resulting in a significant increase in the working population. This serves as a compelling example of the government's efforts to empower women and promote inclusive economic growth.
Engaging a large population in productive work activities holds immense economic potential, but its realisation requires the provision of a well-structured market. Recognising this, the Chhattisgarh Government has taken proactive steps to address the issue.
The establishment of C-Marts in every district has created a platform for showcasing and selling special products from each region. This enables women, such as those belonging to the Bhumgadi Group in Bastar's Dantewada, to access markets not just locally but throughout Chhattisgarh and other parts of the nation as well.
Moreover, the importance of training cannot be overlooked. As women join self-help groups (SHGs), they gain access to banking services, acquire accounting skills, and develop a deep understanding of market dynamics. This comprehensive approach equips them with the necessary expertise to thrive in economic activities, fostering their overall skill development.
Chhattisgarh witnesses a surge in girls' education as women are also taking care of their daughter's studies. Improved school infrastructure, and raising awareness among women are other contributing factors to these results. According to the National Family Health Survey 5, there has been a significant 36.9% rise in the enrollment of girls studying for more than a decade.
Through these initiatives, the women in Chhattisgarh are gaining financial independence, which is enabling them to strengthen their social status in society. In a meeting with the Chief Minister, both male and female beneficiaries from rural areas shared their experiences, which highlighted the positive impact of the state government’s efforts to promote gender equality. These gatherings have showcased Chhattisgarh as an egalitarian society where women and men actively participate in various fields, shaping the state's development narrative together.
Women, the backbone of families, are gaining financial independence and managing family expenses very effectively. They are making decisions in every aspect, whether it’s a matter of purchasing jewellery or about the education of their children. This newfound power to pursue their dreams has brought happiness to their lives, allowing them to shape their own destinies and contribute to the well-being of their families.
Women in Gauthans are consistently expanding their economic activities. They have started vermicompost production, mushroom production, and oil refining. By realising the needs of the market, they are expanding their work area and activities. These women are playing an important role in building an entrepreneurial society in Chhattisgarh.