Women spearheading the winds of change in J-K

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New Delhi: Though Jammu and Kashmir can boast a long list of women who held the honour in various fields of prestige and dignity such as the art of war, advisor to rulers, literature and poetry, and being rulers themselves, it was on August 5, 2019, they started enjoying their rights as an empowered citizen of the democratic India.

This decision was a decree guaranteeing equal opportunities to women.

In the presence of robust systems and machinery developed in the last four years, the women of J&K have risen to the top. Whether in sports, martial arts, school and university education, entrepreneurship, artistic caliber, or fields of science and technology, women are fast collecting accolades making up for the historic backlog.

Women were the first to acknowledge the change of order in 2019 when they could finally leave their homes knowing they would return home safe.

 Unsolicited advice and lectures to women stopped when the government introduced various initiatives to uplift women, such as the Tejaswini scheme, Umeed Scheme, Mudra Financial Assistance Scheme, Mission Youth J&K, and so on. Using the extra pairs of working hands, families could dream of a financially secure future.

Such entrepreneurship and agri-preneurship schemes provided interest-free loans, free skill workshops, training, free facilities such as public-use machinery, grants, and cash awards to cover establishment costs and access to chargeless guidance from industry specialists in the UT.

 In this agriculture-dependent economy, women help through all steps of processing and packaging. They are equipped with technical know-how through the local Krishi Vigyan Kendras and agricultural universities.

Specialty farms that grow cash crops like lavender and saffron hire women-only employees to help with their self-subsistence. Herbs like these require delicate care and attention which suit women’s naturally caring disposition over farming for other crops like wheat, which demands more physical energy. The government is utilising the maximum potential of women while compensating them for their services.

Women with no farming experience also aid the primary sector by growing shiitake mushrooms, aromatic and medicinal plants, etc. in their backyard. As the process is simple with almost zero initial expenses, it’s sought after by lower income groups and women who sit idle at home. There are also special schemes for marginalized women running Self-Help Groups (SHGs) in full capacity.

The administration has empowered women by setting up incubation and skill centers for learning local, traditional art such as zari, naqashi, papier-mâché, silk weaving, basket making, etc. These can be sold at Craft Mela at Kashmir Haat, a round-the-year event. Today woman leaders in these practical industries operate from the comfort of one’s home.

Education, good health, and a sense of security – the three aspects that help an individual look forward to a promising tomorrow have been granted the topmost priority since 2019. Women’s reproductive health has been given a special impetus under the Ayush Bharat Golden Health Card scheme. Grade schools and higher education departments are being upgraded at the cost of Rs $1.5 billion since last year. With seven new government medical colleges, and engineering and management colleges, J&K is witnessing unprecedented growth. Young girls have been consistent top-rank holders in J&K state board examinations and universities.

There is no second opinion that the women are extremely pleased with the changed air in J&K in the last four years. Their lives have taken an absolute 180, from being shamed for leaving their homes to participating in international sports dominated by men.

Under the New Education Policy (NEP 2020) female school students are learning job-oriented courses that will equip them with skills that will never leave them financially insecure.

Highly educated women of the UT have returned from metropolitan cities to work on their ancestral lands, arts, and other traditional occupations. We are witnessing the rise of Silicon Valley within J&K!

The idea to raise women to the levels of their ancestors Queen Didda, Kota Rani, Lal Ded, and Habba Khatoon, started with humble beginnings but has evolved to be the most efficient and inspirational women empowerment movement in the country. The removal of Articles 370 and 35A has made women limitless.

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