‘Women empowerment, gender equality will have to be done’

November 16th, 2008 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Pratibha PatilNew Delhi, Nov 16 (IANS) One of the tasks we still have to accomplish in our country is the empowerment of women and gender equality, President Pratibha Patil said here Sunday, adding “A new India is emerging which is confident and its economic growth has caught the attention of the world”.Inaugurating the National Press Day celebrations, organised by the Press Council of India, the president said: “Women constitute about half of our population but still do not have the same opportunities as their male counterparts in many areas.”

“Often there is discrimination against women and they are faced with many social biases that suppress their capacity to contribute their might towards building a strong nation,” she said.

The theme of this year’s celebrations is “Women and Media”.

“To help women realize their rights, political, economic, social institutions and structures would have to work in tandem,” she said.

The media holds a mirror to the happenings in society to the public at large and it must profile issues requiring attention, the president said.

“Legislatures at the national and state levels have created laws for social welfare and greater participation of women in national life. Women have been given 33 percent representation in local bodies.

“However, while statutory declarations give rights, to make them effective there is need for awareness and responsive implementing and redressal mechanisms.

“Media can be an important player in highlighting cases of success, which can act as a catalyst in the process as well in pointing failures, so that the defects in the system come to light and can be corrected,” she said.

Patil said: “Media in one form or the other, particularly the electronic media has dramatically penetrated into every home. In many ways, media is framing peoples’ thoughts, aspirations and opinions and this means the responsibilities and duties of the media are increasing.”

With the phenomenal increase in the number of women entering the media over the past few years, many questions like what is the status of women journalists today and do they get the enabling environment to do well in their work, need to be answered and analysed, she said.

“The question is, does the media depict women in a positive way or are women shown more in a negative light? There are many qualities of a woman - as a mother, conscience keeper, protector of our cultural values as a friend and companion, which require more reinforcement today, than perhaps in the past. Is the media doing this?” she queried.

The president also said the media’s perspective should be constructive.

“Our nation is going through an important phase in its evolution. A new India is emerging which is confident and its economic growth has caught the attention of the world. This wave of hope is led and reflected by the optimism of its youth.

“At the same time, no doubt, we do have problems. The media can interpret events in many different ways. The media’s perspective should be constructive, just as a glass half empty, can also be seen in a different light - that is a glass half full,” the president added.

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