India’s new female president leads from the front
By: Ashish Sinha
President Pratibha Patil will become the first female occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan to lead the nation in celebrating International Women’s Day on Saturday and she has decided to do it with elan.
To salute women achievers in a frontier area largely untouched by them in the past, Patil will inaugurate the national conference to showcase women’s achievements in cutting edge arena of science and technology. To top it, she will also confer the national award for women’s development through application of S&T as well as the women bio-scientists award at the two-day function.
The President has endorsed the twin principles of the conference, being organized by the S&T ministry – to present the work of women scientists who have excelled in scientific research in identified areas, and to discuss ways to address gender issues and factors which hinder the growth of women in science.
In her message to “all my sisters” on their big day, Patil praised them for their “continuing role and relentless effort in shaping the destiny of our country”. “Our womenfolk, inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, came out of their homes to take part in the freedom struggle. Beginning with their determined efforts in the days before our freedom, today our women continue to strive to transform the social order in a more just and equal manner,” she said.
Considering that women and children were the worst victims of wars and internal conflicts, the President has also decided to meet a delegation of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) on the occasion.
A consortium of anti-bomb doctors from several countries, IPPNW, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, is meeting in Delhi for its 18th world congress.
“We are delighted to have an audience with the President, that too on women’s day. Women and children have been the worst sufferers of all violence. We will make a presentation before her on the nuclear menace, also emphasizing how it impacts women. Unfortunately, India has also fallen in the nuclear race trap,” IPPNW congress secretary Arun Mitra told TOI. Patil, who has taken special interest in women-related issues after assuming office, also stressed the need to deal with problems related to the girl child.
“Now, many gifted women are making their mark in their chosen professions and each one of them can assist in eliminating social evils like female feticide, infanticide and dowry. They should come forward and help educate the hapless underprivileged girl child. Empowerment of women is the most effective tool for development and poverty alleviation,” the President said.