BeyondHeadlines News Desk
Chandigarh: “There are fewer women than men in India today, a trend that will have a negative impact on the society. And its implication is already being felt in Punjab and Haryana,” said President Pratibha Patil while delivering the Dr VN Tewari Memorial lecture at Panjab University.
The president expressed deep concern over dipping sex ratio in the two northern states while she spoke on ‘Women as drivers of a rising India’. She said women, particularly those who are already empowered, can be an effective voice for articulating women-related causes, including in the fight against social evils like female foeticide, child marriage, dowry and addictions, as well as against discrimination and biases that exist in society against women.
“An agenda for empowerment of women should cover gender needs and concerns, at every stage and sphere of life — from protection in the womb, by prohibiting female foeticide, to preventing female infanticide, and by providing better nutrition and care to the girlchild to addressing gender preferences in families,” she said.
She felt that there is a need to make women economically independent by imparting skills to them, to make work places safe for women, by having fast track implementation of stringent laws against sexual harassment and to make women feel secure, by taking deterrent action against those who indulge in all kinds of reprehensible acts.
“Secure women make for a secure nation. I am proud that there have been instances, where young girls and women have demonstrated courage to stand up and fight against evils and discrimination. These women require support,” she said. “Women in India did get a head-start in free India as universal adult franchise was adopted. They got voting rights along with their male counterparts. This was not the case in many other countries,” she added.
Patil said we must have a forward-looking agenda for strengthening the processes that promote development of women. The self-help movement has been particularly successful in enabling women to create economically sustainable models of growth. “We should aim at creating an enabling environment, provide adequate education and offer quality in every sphere of national life – political, economic and social,” the President said. Manish Tewari, senior Congress leader and MP from Ludhiana spoke about honour killings, raising a pertinent question — how can it be an honour to kill someone?