Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Thursday stressed on the need to eliminate poverty and promote gender equality at the Third South Asian Speakers’ Summit in Colombo.

Speaking at the follow-up on the ‘Indore Declaration’ at the Plenary Session, Mahajan observed that the Indore Declaration on the theme – ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation and Resources for the SDGs,’ underscored the need for the elimination of poverty and promotion of gender equality.

While addressing the critical factors pertaining to the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she said SDGs bear special significance for South Asia as the region is home to more than 35 per cent of the world’s poor who suffer from many developmental and infrastructural gaps.

Besides, the region lags behind in terms of human development. The adverse effects of population pressure and over-exploitation of the limited natural resources are clearly visible everywhere.

She said though South Asia has emerged as one of the fastest growing subregions, it could not, however, capitalise the momentum to create job opportunities for its youth as 80 per cent of the workforce remains in the informal sector.

Elaborating the initiatives by the Indian government for effective implementation of SDGs, Mahajan drew the attention to the initiatives in the field of education, health sector through Ayushuman Bharat Yojana, PM Bima Suraksha Yojana, PM Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Avaas Yojana.

Mahajan also gave an account of the initiatives under the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) on various social welfare schemes which have immensely benefited to the public.

She hoped that the Summit would conclude with a progressive declaration that would endeavour for the well being of the people of the South Asian Nations.

Participating in the session on the ‘Role of Sustainable and Green Industrialization in the realisation of the SDGs in South Asia’, Bhubaneswar Kalita, Member of Parliament, observed that the promotion of green energy and green technology has been integral to India’s industrial development, particularly since the last two decades.

Later, the Speakers and the Presiding Officers also discussed the themes namely, ‘The role of Parliaments in promoting decent work and safe and secure working environment’ and ‘Parliaments as promoters of social and economic inclusion in South Asia’ in their Second and Third Sessions, respectively. On the sidelines of the Summit, she met Gabriela Cuevas Barron, IPU President and discussed issues of mutual interest.