Dr Heptulla bats for empowerment of women

IMPHAL, 25th Nov: Though women in the north-east are highly regarded for their immense contributions in diverse fields, the same cannot be said of their compatriots in other parts of the world as they subjected to various forms of atrocities, said Governor Dr Najma Heptulla.
In her address as chief guest of the Women in Governance (WinG) North-East India Conference and 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence Campaign at Classic Grande, Chingmeirong on Sunday, Dr Heptulla expressed that women’s empowerment in its true sense will automatically lead to development and prosperity.
Noting that north-east women are known for their contribution towards socio-economic development apart from playing a vital role in the family and the community, she rejoiced in the fact that in Manipur, women have been at the forefront of all social activities, confronting different challenges that come their way.
“Manipuri women’s significant contribution has been in the field of economic and political rights of their communities rather than their own rights and status,” the Governor noted.
“We are well aware of violence perpetrated against women and girls in the world today. It is very unfortunate that such violence is on the rise. Violence against women and girls is one of the most pervasive human rights violations and also an important public health issue. Women’s health and domestic violence against them are very much interlinked and it has been a bane to the human society down the ages. Further, one could easily say that gender inequality is at the root of violence against women. Beliefs and practices that value women less than men are normalised, excused and tolerated – a substantial proportion of adolescent girls and boys believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife. While violence against women is prevalent in all demographics, most vulnerable are persons who experience multiple forms of discrimination, such as sex workers, migrant workers, physically challenged women, women with refugee status, indigenous women and transgender women,” the Governor said.
Although the issue of violence against women is multidimensional and complex, together we can combat it by speaking out and taking action to ensure that attention is focused on the most underserved and disadvantaged groups of women and girls, further mentioned Dr Heptulla.
While lamenting that violence against women continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as fulfilment of women and girls’ human rights, she cautioned that the promise of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) could not become a reality without putting an end to violence against women and girls.
“Our endeavour should be for helping women to live free from all forms of violence through changes in social norms, rules, institutions and law. Violence and the fear of violence form a significant barrier to women’s participation in the decisions that affect their everyday lives and its effects are felt not just by women, but also by communities and societies as a whole. Though participation of women in democracy is basic to governance, the number of women in decision making bodies at different levels in the context of our country is still very limited,” she pointed out and emphasised that this issue needs to be addressed appropriately.
With regard to the WinG North-East India conference, Dr Heptulla said that it is heartening to see eminent woman leaders, women human rights defenders, women activists and many more from across the country and the NE states are joining hands for a worthy cause.
She further stated that this year the main agenda of the conference is to reflect, deliberate and march ahead with the slogan – from Victimhood to Survivor to Change Agents.
While noting that the conference will take stock of its interventions, advocacies, campaigns and deliberate on how to take forward achievement of the past year(s) and also look into the context of the current situations, the Governor called upon the delegates to strive for scaling up the campaign, strengthen and expand the WinG network and stand in solidarity with individuals who are victims and survivors of violence and deliberate on emerging issues that affect women and women’s decision making at all levels.
The Governor also exuded confidence that the conference will come out with recommendations for the way forward to achieve gender equality and most importantly provide space for women leadership building and standing in solidarity.
WinG was initiated in 2009 with women representatives from NE and their peers from marginalised communities across India.
It works for promoting leadership within local governance, help in grooming women leadership as change agent in peace building process with awareness and capacity building.
As part of the conference, a documentary film ‘WinG NE on Women in Decision Making’ was also screened.
In her welcome address, Bondita Acharya of WinG Assam said that the organisation has plans to expand WinG in another 4 states.
The WinG NE India conference under the theme ‘Strengthening the role of women collective in Governance and in decision making’ will conclude Monday.
The conference is being participated by Manipur State Commission for Women chairperson Dr Meinam Binota as, WinG India convener Asha Kowtal, DIG (AP-I) Mamata Wahengbam and WinG members from Assam, Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram.

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