Poverty continues to be a major challenge in South Asia: Mahajan

Indore, Feb 19 (IANS) Expressing deep concern over poverty in South Asia, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan on Sunday said policymakers in the region share a collective responsibility to find a solution to the problem.

“The South Asia region, with 1.7 billion people, is the most densely populated geographical region of the world. A large number of people are still living in extreme poverty which continues to be a major challenge for the policymakers,” Mahajan said in her concluding remarks at the South Asian Speakers’ Summit here.

“The countries of the region share the collective responsibility to find solutions to issues that are affecting them,” she added.

Mahajan said achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will be able to address most of the problems that are holding back peace and prosperity in these countries.

Mahajan also said that the adverse effects of population pressure and over-exploitation of the limited natural resources are clearly visible everywhere.

“On one hand, there is a need for development, while on the other, we must protect environment. An imbalance between the two can trigger massive negative consequences,” she said.

The Lok Sabha Speaker, who is also the MP from Indore, said gender inequality is a sensitive challenge for all of us.

“It is complex and represents inequality, discrimination, threat perception and violence. We all acknowledge that women rights are indeed human rights. Women have a right to live with dignity and equality. Women must enjoy equal access to education, economic resources and employment.

“Women must enjoy the right to life without fear of threat or violence. How can development be even close to sustainable if women are denied equality of opportunity and accessibility, and dignity,” she asked.

She said there is a convergence of thought that gender parity or better gender balance can act as a critical factor for sustainable development and the need to systematically mainstream gender into development agenda.

Mahajan also called for a strong parliamentary action in the achievement of the SDGs.

“The role Parliament can play in realising the SDGs cannot be overemphasised. Parliament holds an important position in the development process. Public trust in Parliament is rooted in its openness, transparency, accessibility and responsible conduct of the representatives of people,” she said.

Mahajan said the Summit has been an effort to the energy and potentialities of Parliaments and the Parliamentarians to achieve the SDGs.

–IANS

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