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Why women's safety not in poll campaign, ask activists

Posted on Apr 23 2014 | IANS

New Delhi, April 23 : Rights practitioners, lawyers and thought leaders Wednesday asked why was women's safety not of pivotal concern in the ongoing elections, and called for greater awareness about the issue.

"The Indian election manifesto is short. According to a poll, 91 percent of the voters said in these elections, violence against women was the number two priority, after corruption," Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nandy said, also stressing why governments need to be pressurized into working on women's safety issues.

She was speaking here at the inaugural session of the "Catalyst Conference: Igniting Leader to end Sexual Violence".

She added that each one has an important role to play in ending the existing patriarchy in the society.

"The issue of patriarchy runs deep in our system and is the root cause of all challenges faced by women. Each one of us has a responsibility, and a role to play in dismantling the patriarchy within ourselves and outside. It is also true that the government has to lead this in a significant way," she said.

Echoing her sentiments, former induastry forum FICCI president Naina Lal Kidwai, who is country head of HSBC India, called for increased awareness and action against sexual violence.

Speaking at a session titled "Economic Empowerment: Is a Job Enough", social worker Mirai Chatterjee said that economic empowerment is the "key".

"Economic empowerment is not just about putting money in a woman's hand, but is also about food, basic social security, child care, pension and housing. Then, when she has money in her hand, that's when we see a transformation," she said.

The session highlighted that a change in the mindset is needed from an early age, including gender sensitisation, to combat increasing violence against women.

Convened by the Ananta Centre, an independent not-for-profit organisation, and EmancipAction India Foundation, that works towards breaking the business of sex trafficking, the two-day conference aims to raise awareness on sexual violence, and bring out ways to transform existing attitudes.

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