As India clocked over 2.50 crore vaccine doses on Friday, Maharashtra had a moment to celebrate of its own. The state crossed the milestone of two crore fully vaccinated citizens. But with vaccinations picking up pace, Maharashtra is focusing on those left behind. The vaccination drive on Friday - a women's only vaccination day in the state - was organised in Mumbai by the city's civic body, Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM).
The special coronavirus vaccination drive saw vaccination at all government and municipal vaccination centres. Women got both first and second coronavirus doses to ensure that gender parity is maintained when it comes to vaccination.
"Data will show you that more and more women are lagging behind in India as far as vaccination drive in India is concerned. While the vaccination drive is picking up women are being left far behind. Over 52% men have got vaccinated in India while the number of women is much lesser at 47%. It is imperative that government intervenes to ensure that more women come forward and get vaccinated. What keeps women behind is lack of access to technology because you have to register through an app and lack of smartphones which bars them from accessing technology," Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi told NDTV.
The employment statistics also favour men, she said.
"Women are also getting left behind because there are not enough women in workspaces. The BMC created an all-women day when it comes to vaccination when we saw a large number of women coming forward and getting vaccinated. I think it is time we address this gender gap that prevails in vaccination. Till we don't have equal participation of women in vaccination we will be lagging behind in addressing the challenge that we face," Priyanka Chaturvedi added.
On International Women's Day, the Maharashtra government had set up five vaccination centres in each district, dedicated solely to inoculate women. Mumbai has continued that effort to ensure women get vaccinated.
Corporates are also now coming forward to join hands with the government as it tries to address the poor vaccination rate among women.
Several vaccination centres have been set up by corporates - including one at a school run by BMC in Worli - vaccinated 2,000 women on the first day.
Aaditya Thackeray, who has been leading the anti-Covid efforts in Mumbai, said that corporate houses have been part of the vaccination drive from the very first day.
"Public-private partnership has existed from day 1 of Covid and the corporates, who are residing in Mumbai and have their industries in Maharashtra, have supported the state government and the urban local bodies. This cooperation, without any barriers, has helped us put up jumbo centres, procure medicines to vaccination," Mr Thackeray, who is state Environment and Tourism Minister, said.
Gautam Singhania, Chairman and MD of Raymond Limited, told NDTV, "We have picked 2,000 women that will get vaccines on priority so this will help. While the upper segments of society have got everything, this will help the rest of Mumbai. At the heart of it, I am a Mumbaikar, and we want to do whatever we can. The only answer is vaccinate, vaccinate vaccinate. I have just come back from London; their life is 90% back to normal and the only answer is vaccination."
India set a world record as it crossed 2.5 crore Covid vaccinations for the first time on Friday as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and several state governments raced to deliver a record on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday.
The previous record was set by China in June when it inoculated 2.47 crore in a day.
However, in the days preceding Friday and the weekend, vaccination figures dropped sharply, leading to a retort from the Opposition that fewer doses were administered in the last two weeks so that a record could be set on PM Modi's birthday.
India has administered more than one crore COVID-19 vaccines in a day on earlier occasions.The vaccination drive in the country commenced on January 16 with the inoculation of healthcare and frontline workers. At present, India is administering COVID-19 vaccines-- Covishield of Serum Institute of India, Bharat Biotech's Covaxin and Sputnik V.