The High Commission of Canada in India, in association with the Women’s Development Cell of Miranda House, National Commission for Women and Women’s Feature Service, organised a dialogue on Women leadership and empowerment, from 8-10 February at the India Habitat Centre.
Over the 3 days, the South Asian Young Women Leadership Conclave saw participation of people from different walks of life- with only one aim in mind, to discuss women’s issues and development.
Unlike the event in 2016 when women members of the Parliament participated in the regional dialogue, this year, the High Commission of Canada invited 7 delegates from South Asian countries, all young women leaders, to represent women’s issues from their cultures, religions and countries.
The session was opened by Jess Dutton, The Deputy High Commissioner as he welcomed the young women from India, Bhutan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives.
The day spanned out with four sessions on women in Leadership, women in politics, women as agents of change in the society and ended with a panel discussion on the regional perspective of the 7 delegates.
Numerous eminent speakers from different spheres of society spoke on the issue during the session, including Shehla Rashid; Youth Activist from JNU, Karuna Nundy; Senior Advocate- Supreme Court, Kamla Bhasin; Activist and founder of South Asian Feminist Network, Sangat and many more.
The only man in the panel, Jay Panda, National Spokesperson of Biju Janata Dal, debarred the common notion of feminism only being a female’s movement. “You don’t need to be a female to be a feminist.” he said. “Feminism never taught us to hate men, but to hate patriarchy.” Shehla Rashid added later on.
Throughout the three days, issues like the concept of Sarpanchpati, elitism in the feminist movement, laws governing women’s rights were taken up.
With different points of view coming in, all intertwined in one conclusion of gender sensitisation being important at every level of the society. “Be an undercover gender activist at all levels” Shazia Ilmi, Vice President of BJP Delhi Unit advised.
Image Credits- Azfar Ahmed