United Nations: India has enabling conditions for gender equality and is updating the National Policy for Women to establish a solid foundation for accelerating its commitment to women's empowerment, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has said.
"Ensuring gender equality, promoting women's empowerment and combating discrimination and violence against women are integral to our national pursuit of forging inclusive society and development," Gandhi, Minister for Women and Child Development, said on Monday.
"We have adopted both enabling legislative and policy framework for advancement of women and undertaken awareness generation and sensitisation programmes to fight social prejudices and stereotypes," she said during a roundtable session at the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
India is updating the National Policy for Women to "establish a solid foundation to accelerate our commitment" made in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, she said.
"As we begin to implement the new universal agenda for sustainable development, the enabling conditions for realising gender equality and women's empowerment are already in place in India," Gandhi said.
The CSW, which began yesterday and will last until March 24, will bring together representatives from the UN system, member states and civil society from around the world to review the progress so far towards gender equality and women's empowerment and plan new initiatives and actions.
Over 400 events have been planned throughout the city for the CSW and the priority theme for the events will be on women's empowerment and sustainable development, given that this is the first session of the Commission since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda in September 2015.
Gandhi told the roundtable on 'Enhancing national institutional arrangements for gender equality and women's empowerment' that many of the Sustainable Development Goals which form the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development are already being implemented through flagship programmes of the government such as 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan', 'Make in India', 'Digital India', 'Skill India', 'Smart Cities' and 'Jan Dhan Yojana'.
"Mechanism has been put in place that every programme or project is shaped by a gender analysis at the planning stage itself and also establishes common indicators for judging our success (Outcome Budget)," the minister said.
Underlining India's firm commitment to realising a transformative change for gender equality, women's rights and empowerment globally, Gandhi further said that women leaders in politics are progressively increasing in India and "making the Parliament stronger" through their participation.
"Women's issues, including new issues, are now raised more easily and more often than before," Gandhi said. The Indian government has also adopted Gender Budgeting as a tool for achieving gender mainstreaming in 2005. With a view to further build the capacities and encourage research, so that a gender perspective is retained at all levels of planning, budget formulation and implementation processes, Gandhi said the government is all set to designate and hand-hold nodal centres both at the national and sub-national level.
"In order to institutionalise community participation, gender specific programmes are envisaged to be implemented with Village Convergence and Facilitation Centres with village coordinators chosen amongst communities," she said adding that capacity development and training has been accorded the highest priority for mainstreaming gender concerns.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, "When I see all of you from so many different countries, with so much experience and such strong commitment I know we can achieve full equality for all women everywhere".
"As long as one woman's human rights are violated, our struggle is not over," he said adding that the world is still full of inequalities and injustices for women and girls.
Ban said there are still four countries where not a single woman is in the parliament and eight countries without any women in the cabinet. "I am not going to disclose the names but I am urging them to change this. I will be checking every day to see if there is any progress, and I will keep pushing until the world has no parliaments and no cabinets with no women," he said, in what he described as a "personal appeal" to these nations.
UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka hailed the Commission as the largest and most critical intergovernmental forum with diverse women's voices that can influence the road to the 2030 Agenda. "In your hands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end poverty and transform gender relations irreversibly for the next generation, making the world a better place for all. Let us seize the day!," Phumzile said.
"What was agreed in the 2030 Agenda calls on us to change the way we live, do business, grow food, value motherhood, engage and protect girls and boys, communicate, and respect and recognise the rights of those different from the mainstream in their sexual orientation or in any other way," she added.