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Women shattering glass ceiling in one domain after another: President

The president said that in the saga of the freedom movement, women played a stellar part. India’s efforts to be freed from the shackles of an exploitative colonial rule

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Regretting that women have suffered from deep-rooted social prejudices, President Ram Nath Kovind today expressed happiness that they were now shattering the glass ceiling in one domain after another, the latest being their enhanced role in the armed forces.

The number of women was rising in the traditional male bastions of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Management, collectively known as ‘STEMM’. There must have been more women than men among the Corona Warriors who guarded the nation during those months of the crisis, he said inaugurating the National Women Legislators’ Conference-2022 in Thiruvananthapuram. The conference is being hosted by the Kerala Legislative Assembly as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’.

The president observed that achievements should have been natural for women who constitute about half of the population. ”That, unfortunately, has not been the case. We have to admit that they have suffered from deep-rooted social prejudices. Their proportion in the workforce is nowhere near their potential. This sad state of affairs is, of course, a worldwide phenomenon,” he noted.

Kovind said India has had at least one woman prime minister, and there has been one woman too among his illustrious predecessors at the Rashtrapati Bhavan when several nations were yet to have their first female head of state or government.

“Putting the matter in the global context helps us realise that the challenge before us is to change the mindset – a task that is never easy. It takes immense patience and time. We can certainly take solace in the fact that the freedom movement laid a solid foundation for gender equality in India, that we had a great beginning and that we have already come a long way,” he said.

The president said that in the saga of the freedom movement, women played a stellar part. India’s efforts to be freed from the shackles of an exploitative colonial rule began long ago, and 1857 was one of its early manifestations. Even in the middle of the 19th century, while there were only men on the other side, the Indian side included many women. Rani Lakshmibai was the most notable among them, but there were many more like her fighting bravely against the unjust rule. “It takes immense patience and time. We can certainly take solace in the fact that the freedom movement laid a solid foundation for gender equality in India, that we had a great beginning and that we have already come a long way,” he added.

Speaking about India’s accomplishment of offering universal franchise to all its adult citizens, regardless of any distinctions, right at the inception, the president said women in the world’s oldest modern democracy, the United States, had to wait for more than a century after its independence to win the right to vote.

Their sisters in the United Kingdom also waited nearly as long. Even after that, many economically advanced nations of Europe refrained from granting voting rights to women. In India, however, there was never a time when men could vote but women could not.

This, he said, clearly showed two things. First, the framers of the Constitution had deep faith in democracy and in the wisdom of the masses. They considered every citizen as a citizen, and not as a woman or a member of a caste or tribe and held that each of them must have an equal say in shaping everyone’s common destiny. Secondly, from ancient times, this land has seen women and men as equal – indeed, as incomplete without each other.