By Harsha Mukherjee
MUMBAI: The New Indian Woman a summit organized by CII was endorsed by eminent established personalities such as Jay Panda, Zoya Hasan, Barkha Dutt, Nirmala Sitaram, Ranjana Kumari, Shabana Azmi and others. The inaugural session was adorned by Shabana Azmi making some remarkable statements:
“The Indian Women need more strength and support to transcend the notion of power with sharing & partnership & emerge along with her new Indian Men” & “Women should be active participants rather than Passive recipients” she emphasized on women security, voiced against women discrimination as well as female foeticide from rural to urban India & questioned should there be a women reservation bill? She also recited a beautiful poem which touched all the hearts of the people present there.
The inauguration was followed with discussion on She dons the professional hat wherein Zoya Hasan professor & dean of school of social sciences JNU raised the issue of lack of women in politics pointing out that politics is the key to social transformation in India and enlightened with the fact that in recent Assembly election women voting percentage raised from 52% to 68% which was restated by Ranjana Kumari Director of Center for Social Research.
Zoya Hasan incited that India should follow Nordic countries in engaging women in politics and not consider politics as male dominated profession. She insisted that in order to pass the women reservation bill women organizations should take some stern steps and create strong pressure on parliamentarians.
Jay Panda present Member of Parliament shed light that 12% of Parliament consists of women politicians and also welcomed women & social entrepreneurs to become a part of politics. Zoya Akhtar eminent Director spoke about women in cinema and insisted that there was no gender difference practiced while making movies.
Chetna Sinha, Founder of Mann Deshi Mahila Bank briefed about professionalism practiced by rural women and shared few stories on how illiterate women managed to open a bank and get the license as well as expanded their business by providing rebate on interest on loan if women are the core owner of the house which led to 6000 women taking house loans. Apurva Purohit, CEO Radio City encouraged women to “Own their Success” and claimed that diverse & inclusive recruitment leads to profitability. She also urged women to be guilt-free while missing out on few household responsibilities during meeting professional demands. By her experience women employees have been more loyal to the company.
It was pleasant to see Babai Sathe, Sarpanch of Jawalke region in Maharastra a woman from rural parts of India acting as a change maker since past 18 years.
The session was preceeded with conversation between Barkha Dutt & Shabana Azmi on women empowerment and then about role of women in media. Lynn De Souza Chairman & CEO, Lintas Media Group showed a documentary on evolving stages of projecting women from regressive to progressive in media specifically advertising industry. Kiran Rao film-maker said that Institutional support & democracy makes women more comfortable to come out & work.
Nandita das beautifully put up the quotient of women performing multiple identity tasks and asked which identity would she like to be recognized as. Presence of Lakshmi raising issue of transgenders only given an option to do sex work and no space in professional sphere blazed the atmosphere and forced us to think out of our domains. Shobhna Kumar CEO, Queer Ink the first magazine acquainting us with stories of transgender women supported Lakshmi’s thought and gave us another perspective of women in society.
The last session concentrated on Women reservation bill wherein Niramala Sitaram National spokesperson BJP, Ranjana Kumari & Maneka Guru swamy Lawyer Supreme court wholeheartedly supported the bill but questions were still raised upon the need of the bill pointing out the equality in the society and competence of women in politics by Javed Akhtar & Madhu Kishwar, Senior fellow Center for study of developing society who gave a brief speech on the topic.
The question still remains in my mind of women and politics that even if the women reservation bill is passed how do we fight the age-old nepotism practiced in Indian Politics. For an aspiring women politician with no background or family in politics and in open class no SC/ST to bolster the aspiration, how far is it possible for the woman to actually break the barriers and Don the Political Hat just like she Dons the Professional Hat? Yet to be seen!