Gender empowerment must start at home: Kerala CM

Thiruvananthapuram: Gender empowerment should start from our homes to achieve our goals at the societal level, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Saturday.

“We had a culture of keeping women out of economical and intellectual independence. Gender equality holds the key to economic growth and human development. Governmental organisations alone cannot make the difference and it should start from our homes. The first ever transgender policy is also a path-breaking achievement for the state,” Chandy said at the valedictory function of the three-day International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE 1) that concluded here.

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Former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan, who was in Delhi, said in his video address that a patriarchal society led to the suppression of women’s abilities.

“However, today we reserve 50 percent of seats in local self-governing bodies for women. I express my solidarity to the initiative by the social justice department of the state,” said Achuthanandan.

Kerala’s Social Justice and Panchayats Minister M.K. Muneer said the state government would initiate a “State Gender Action Plan” after a series of discussions with researchers, academicians and other experts.

“Kerala has declared seven different policies for gender identities which directly or indirectly are related to gender equality. After attending the eye-opening sessions which gave us surprising data and statistics on the gender discrimination and the loopholes in the present legislations, we will take further steps to ensure gender equality,” said the minister.

The three-day event also came out with a statement with a special request to governments to ensure that women are not put under “gender-specific restrictions” that deprive them of basic constitutional rights.

Meant as a guideline to governments, civil bodies and the media, among others, it focused on greater inclusion and engagement of women, people of different sexualities, those with disabilities and men from marginalised communities, towards ensuring participatory rights-based governance.

The statement suggested an attitudinal and policy shift in traditional concepts and stereotypes, including changing the language, dialogue and depiction in media and including more women and transgender voices in media reporting assignments.

It also underlined the urgent need to integrate gender into infrastructure as women have a larger share of time and responsibility for household activities.