Thiruvananthapuram, November 12: Chief Guest Governor Justice Shri P Sathasivam called for “legal empowerment of women through legal literacy” at the opening ceremony of the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE 1) at Kovalam today. The first such in India, the event is organised together with UN Women and UNFPA, and is the first of a series of biennial conferences.
“Kerala should endeavour to set up more women’s cells in police stations. Police personnel are the important link between legal aid committees and women victims; state legal services can be a tool for women empowerment provided all the institutions play their role dutifully and proactively,” said the former Chief Justice of India, at a grand inaugural ceremony at the KTDC Samudra Convention Centre. “Courts throughout India must continue to play a progressive, dynamic, creative and proactive role for social, economic and cultural transformation.”
The ceremony, attended by Indian and international policy makers, academicians, activists and transgenders, set the tone for the three-day event, which aims, through dialogue and discussion, to create a “movement forward towards gender equality”.
“There is no doubt that there is now a positive mindset towards creating gender equality,” said Industries Minister Shri P K Kunhalikutty. “The Industries Department is also organising a women’s entrepreneurship conference, a first in India, to increase women’s participation in entrepreneurship, in December.
”The Governor unveiled the logo for the Gender Park, the first phase of which will be inaugurated in Kozhikode in February. The logo was handed over to Shri Kunhalikutty.
Minister for Social Justice and Panchayats Dr M K Munner pointed to Kerala’s human development indices and also women’s reservation in the local body elections. “Elected bodies and heads of elected bodies have more than 50 per cent representation in Kerala,” he said. “Proper representation of women from marginalised sections has also been ensured.”
Various dignitaries, including Shri Sathasivam, Smt P K Sreemathi MP and Chief Secretary Shri Jiji Thomson shared personal experiences in the fight for gender equality. Shri Thomson, under whose initiative Orissa athlete Dutee Chand was allowed to participate as a female athlete in spite of being disqualified for hyperandrogenism, released the state policy on transgenders.
The audience erupted into the applause as the first policy document to ensure rights and opportunities for transgenders was handed over to transgender activist Akki Padmashali.
Dignitaries spoke of “changing attitudes over the next three days of the event”, which is the first of a series of biennial conferences.
Also present at the function were activist dancer Mallika Sarabhai, Senior Advisor on Coordination and Focal Point for Women in the UN System, UN Women, Aparna Mehrotra and Prof Naila Kabeer of the London School of Economics, Department of Social Justice (DSJ) director Shri V N Jitendran and Gender Park CEO Dr P T M Sunish.
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