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Rashtrapati Bhavan : 12.11.2014

The President of India, Shri Pranab Mukherjee delivered the twentieth Justice Sunanda Bhandare Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Women as Agentsof Change’ today (November 12, 2014) at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi.

Speaking on the occasion, the President said that Late Justice Bhandare was a champion of women’s rights. She distinguished herself equally by her professionalism and her concern for the under-privileged. Justice Bhandare believed that women should be empowered to be the architects of their own destiny.

The President said that we are today living in a knowledge society, where women have competed with men to show that they are equally gifted. We have to mitigate the roadblocks which deprive women from becoming agents of change. We need more women in decision-making structures. While 33 percent reservation for women at the panchayat level has had some success, representation of women at other tiers of the government is unfortunately poor. Women have become Ministers, Governors, Ambassadors and Judges but their representation is not enough for them to play the role of change agents in an effective way.

The President said that to bridge the gender disparity gap in our country, we require positive intervention in areas such as education, economic empowerment and governance. We have to strengthen the systems and processes that facilitate women to take control and claim ownership of their lives. To lend true meaning to empowerment, we have to expand their freedom of choice. The United Nations define women’s empowerment as her sense of self-worth; her right to live and to determine choices; her right to have access to opportunities and resources; her right to have the power to control. To realize these worthy objectives, we need more change icons like Late Justice Bhandare. We need to recognize women’s extraordinary ability to influence the direction of social change to create a just socio-economic order.

This release issued at 1925 hrs.