Though India is the world’s largest democracy, women in India still find themselves under-represented and far-removed from decision-making levels. They face many political, socio-economic, ideological and psychological obstacles which need to be removed to enable their equal participation in all spheres of life. Young female students need to be able to realise their potential through guidance and nurturing, so that a bright future that awaits them. This was the backdrop to the formation of the National Women’s Parliament (NWP) the objectives of which are to generate new ideas, concepts, theories and ideologies for women empowerment.
It’s vision is to: “enable and encourage the social, political and economic empowerment of women in all strata of the society” and its mission is: “To establish a connect between women from diverse backgrounds like politics, social sector, education, sports, industry, media, cinema, arts and culture, judiciary and students by providing them a platform for deliberations, discussions, debates, mentoring and for evolving reciprocal and continuing engagement on all women centric issues and challenges.”
Shilpa Kedari (Project Manager) and Priyanka Sonwane (Superintendent) from our Snehadhar team were among thousands of women invited to attend the three-day NWP ‘Empowering Women - Strengthening Democracy’, organized by Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly in February.
It was a mega event with 91 women parliamentarians, 401 legislators, 300 social and corporate sector leaders from India and abroad and over 10,000 ‘socially and politically sensitive’ female students in attendance. Our team and they were able to hear from the Buddhist spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, Union Ministers, Chief Ministers, other parliamentarians, actress Manisha Koirala and many other dignitaries. Seven plenary sessions included discussions on socio-political challenges in women empowerment, women’s status and decision making, building identity and vision for the future.
Each day followed a theme, from Socio-political challenges in women empowerment; Building bonds between mentor and mentees; Women’s status and decision-making power; to Building own identity and vision of the future and women in politics: change-makers in global scenario. This facilitated discussions among women from all backgrounds on issues such as malnutrition, social security, sexual harassment, sanitation, oppression and other gender-based problems.
AP Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu summarized: “The conclave will be a common platform for women from diverse backgrounds like politics, arts and culture, sports, education, industry, media, cinema, judiciary and social sector to share their knowledge and research in the area of women’s social, economic and political empowerment.
“One of the objectives of NWP is to make young girls realise their potential and make them aware of the canvas where they can leave their footprints. Our endeavour is to enhance the network between eminent women and girl students to enable them to take leadership roles.”
The parliament concluded with a run for women empowerment from Swaraj Maidan to Tummalapalli Vari Kshetrayya Kalakshetram and the hope of having acted to strengthen the nation through the empowerment of women.