India now has a Prime Minister who advocates for women to be equal partners in the nation’s growth, Union Women & Child Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani said on Saturday at the inaugural edition of CNN-News18 Town Hall.
In conversation with CNN-News18’s Marya Shakil, Irani, who wrested Amethi from Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in the 2019 elections, said serious measures for women’s safety were taken only after Narendra Modi came to power in 2014, starting with the mission to end open defecation.
“Toilet was never an election agenda in India. When PM Modi won in 2014, he went beyond and said that we need to start from the basics. Around 33 crore people were defecating in the open before 2014, and 45% women were vulnerable to sexual abuse because of that,” Irani said.
“Women help desks became a reality courtesy the Modi government. More than 700 fast track courts have been set up by this government and 35 helplines dedicated to women were introduced,” the Amethi MP said.
Speaking of her tenure as education minister in the previous Modi government, Irani said: “The education policy in our country changed after 30 years. The change began at the time I was education minister. In the past, government never asked parents what kind of education policy they want… Leadership is not about facing challenges in the present, but also about preparing for challenges of the future.”
The CNN-News18 Town Hall kicked off on Saturday with Union I&B and Sports Minister Anurag Thakur as the first speaker, followed by Minister for Women & Child Development Smriti Irani. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar was slated to speak at the event later in the day.
The essence of CNN-News18 Town Hall is to decode the most relevant and topical issues that are shaping India. The town hall events will take place once every quarter, focusing on the quality of conversations and building a unique platform for the channel to engage with its audiences on ground.