Several of our legislations have been strong enablers of women empowerment, says Smriti Irani at UNGA

Union Minister for Women and Child Development was among over 150 Prime Ministers, Presidents and Ministers who addressed high-level meeting

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani on Friday addressed the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) on the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action to highlight India’s achievements on gender equality.

Ms. Irani was among over 150 Prime Ministers, Presidents and Ministers who addressed the UNGA’s high-level meeting held under the theme ‘Accelerating the realization of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.’

The meeting is an opportunity for member states to demonstrate the political will and leadership for the implementation of the Beijing Declaration — a resolution adopted on September 15, 1995, on principles of gender equality.

Ms. Irani spoke about a shift in India “from a paradigm of women’s development to women-led development,” which is a theme that first found mention in BJP’s manifesto ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“Several of our legislations, such as those pertaining to sexual harassment of women at workplace, protection of women from domestic violence, protection of children from sexual offences, and our criminal laws’ amendments have been strong enablers of women empowerment and protection of children, especially girls, over the past six years,” Ms. Irani said.

She also mentioned reservation for women in local bodies such as panchayat, “who provide leadership in formulating and implementing gender sensitive public policies at the community level.”

The government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme also found a mention in her speech.

Talking about the government’s efforts to ensure protection of women during COVID-19, she said, “The Government of India took a series of measures for ensuring safety, security and well-being of women during the Covid pandemic. These included one-stop centres providing medical, psychological, legal, police and shelter facilities under a common roof. Additionally, during the pandemic, all efforts are being made to ensure community care for women, especially pregnant and lactating women and women in vulnerable situations.”

In its press note, the UN said that it is estimated that due to the pandemic, in 2021, “47 million women and girls will be pushed into extreme poverty, bringing the total to 435 million. By 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women, a gap that is expected to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030.”

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