THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: While acknowledging the role of women in battling the Covid-19 pandemic, President Ram Nath Kovind lauded women healthcare workers from Kerala for setting an example of selfless care during the period of crisis.
The President was inaugurating the 'National Women Legislators’ Conference, Kerala – 2022' at the state Legislative Assembly here on Thursday. Around 130 delegates, including women ministers from the Centre and states, women MPs and legislators are attending the two-day conference.
"There must have been more women than men among the Corona Warriors who guarded the nation during those months of the crisis," the President said. He noted that healthcare personnel from Kerala rendered selfless service by putting themselves at a "great personal risk".
He also added that the state has been a shining example in removing obstacles in the path of women's progress. "Thanks to a higher degree of sensitivity among the population, the state has charted new paths in helping women achieve their potential in the spheres of health, education and employment," he said.
The President noted that despite women constituting around half of the population, their proportion in the workforce was nowhere near their potential. In the political sphere, he exhorted more women to contest and win elections. He said providing 50% reservation for women in local bodies cannot be called ‘women’s empowerment’ as women are powerful anyway.
"If facilitating their better participation in political processes is empowerment in any sense, it is empowerment of the whole society, because you all add quality to governance, you help bring focus on issues that matter," Kovind said.
On equality of women, the President said the mindset is already changing in the country and sensitivity – including towards the third gender and other gender identities – is advancing rapidly.
Governor Arif Mohammed Khan who spoke on the occasion said that even after seven decades of freedom, there are individuals who cultivate "romance of regression" and seek to marginalize women by imposing patriarchal restrictions on their public appearance and participation in public activities.
"Such actions violate the basic constitutional rights as well as the laws designed to protect women. But what is more painful is the silence of otherwise well-meaning people who choose to ignore this patently criminal behavior towards women," he said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan listed out the various initiatives the state has undertaken to protect women's rights and ensure gender justice. However, he acknowledged that the state has not been able to create a 'gender just society'.
"We have a historic responsibility in our hands to ensure that men and women enjoy the same freedom. And that cannot be achieved without ensuring adequate representation of women in our state legislatures and the nation's parliament," he noted.
Minister J Chinjurani, Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan, Speaker MB Rajesh and Deputy Speaker Chittayam Gopakumar also addressed the inaugural session.