India seeks stronger UN push for gender equality


United Nations : India has asked the United Nations to provide more funds to nations to give a push to efforts for gender equality and women's empowerment and not just undertaking system reforms alone.

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"We believe that a strong push for gender needs strong resources, and not only new centralised, extensive bureaucratic structures," said Nirupam Sen, India's permanent representative to the United Nations, Thursday during informal consultations on a UN panel report on Gender Entity.

Noting that the panel report itself states that too often, "reform" has meant adding extra layers of bureaucracy, outweighing potential benefits, he said, "We would like to bring about real progress on an issue of such crucial importance."

India wanted "not just something that is symbolic but substantial, concrete and wide ranging progress on the ground and throughout the UN system, encompassing inter alia the programmes and agencies," he added.

Sen recalled that Mahatma Gandhi once said that a "woman has the right to participate in the very minutest detail in the activities of man and she has an equal right of freedom and liberty with him."

"As we chart the future course for the UN on gender equality and women's empowerment, we would like to measure the proposals on their ability to assist the efforts of countries towards achieving the vision of gender equality articulated by the Mahatma over seventy years ago," he said.

In a more specifically economic context, the Indian Nobel prize winning economist Amartya Sen has demonstrated the impact of gender on general economic development. However, this is entirely different from trying to make it a conditionality, Sen said.

The panel's recommendations arise out of the overall thesis that coherence and consolidation can achieve results, he noted. A vision of gender equality and women's empowerment that brings to women the freedom and liberty equal to man is a big dream.

"It involves action on multiple fronts and achievements in a number of areas ranging from health care, including reproductive health, education to women' s rights. Can this be done by a single voice, no matter how powerful it might be?" Sen asked.

A strong voice can help, but for achieving gender equality and women's empowerment, strong effort would be needed on multiple fronts. Perhaps some fragmentation in the sense of plurality is necessary to confront an issue whose footprints can be found in such multiple areas, he said.