President, PM call for gender equality on Women’s Day (Roundup)

New Delhi, March 8 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for gender equality and equal opportunities for women as International Women’s Day was celebrated across India on Wednesday.

The President presented Nari Shakti Puruskars for the year 2016, and said it is inexcusable that women in India do not feel as secure and safe as they should.

“Government is equally concerned at the rising rate of violent crimes against women,” he said.

“It is inexcusable that women in India do not feel as secure and safe as they should. Gender biases have no place in modern India where inclusive development is a key objective,” the President said, pitching for early sensitisation of youth in schools and institutions.

“A greater emphasis on early sensitisation of children and youth in schools and institutions of higher learning would help inculcate due respect for the female gender. This should be taken up through appropriate measures in our rural and urban populations and through well-conceived and coherent government programmes,” he added.

Mukherjee said that on the International Women’s Day, it is “important to reiterate that every girl child and woman in our country should be assured that Government of India is fully committed to providing her an enabling environment that affords equal opportunity”.

Prime Minister Modi also lauded woman power, and said: “Saluting the indomitable spirit, determination and dedication of Nari Shakti on International Women’s Day.”

Later, at a conclave of women village heads in Gandhinagar, the Prime Minister said gender discrimination should not be accepted.

“A discriminatory mindset cannot be accepted. We are seeing how girls are shining in the board exams and in so many other areas,” he said.

At the same event, however, a woman was dragged out of the event venue by women SPG commandos when, protesting against the prevailing situation of women, she tried to reach the podium where the Prime Minister and others were sitting.

Union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi, meanwhile, had a different suggestion.

At an award function to celebrate International Women’s Day, she suggested to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal that there should be one day dedicated to men.

“The Delhi Chief Minister has taken so many initiatives. He should now start a men’s day in the state,” she said at Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Annual Awards, where Kejriwal was present.

Kejriwal had earlier on Wednesday advised Modi to unfollow those who threaten and abuse women on social media.

“Happy Women’s Day to all. On this day, I urge the Prime Minister to unfollow all those who abuse and threaten women and (urge) take strong action against them,” Kejriwal said in a tweet on Wednesday morning.

Maneka Gandhi also urged the women in the country to join the WCD Ministry’s “I am equal” campaign on Twitter.

“We should start by saying — I am equal — and I am sure there will be equality one day,” she said.