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Home > News > PTI

Sonia calls for attention to women's issues

March 06, 2007 15:26 IST

Female foeticide, illiteracy and discrimination against women are some of the gender issues that need urgent attention, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said on Tuesday.

"Women may have more opportunities now. But we still have a long way to go," she said after unfurling a multi-coloured flag to mark the International Women's Day celebrations in New Delhi.

"Our constitution entitles women to equal opportunities and rights... But in some parts of the land the rate of female foeticide is high and the gender ratio is terribly skewed. Girls are not being sent to school in many places and women face prejudice and discrimination at the workplace," she said.

Gandhi said these issues should get focused upon in Women's Day celebrations even as she asserted the government was giving top priority to the welfare of women and children.

Gandhi pointed out Panchayati Raj system, a brainchild of her husband, former Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi, as a movement that has brought women to positions of responsibility.

The Congress President, who shared the stage with Veena Singh, a panchayat leader from Bihar, said women in panchayats, that now number 12 lakh, have disproved the scepticism that they would just be proxies for men or mere rubber stamps.

Gandhi unfurled a flag on women's empowerment designed by Farook Ambalapurathe of United Nations Population Fund at the function in National Stadium in the presence of Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury and Panchayati Raj Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar.

A large number of women panchayat leaders and women's rights activists attended the function. The flag, that depicts the colours of a muted rainbow under the national tricolour on a white background, will be hoisted all over the country on International Women's Day on March 8.

"This flag will be unfurled across the length and breadth of the country. It will send out a powerful message of equality and emancipation," Gandhi said. A song especially composed for Women's Day celebrations and sung by playback singer Shreya Ghoshal was also played on the occasion.

Popular singer Usha Uthup also sang some foot-tapping numbers. The weeklong celebrations of International Women's Day that began yesterday with the inauguration of a film festival here will showcase movies based on women-related themes.

Vice President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat will release a series of stamps especially designed for the occasion on March 8.

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