Women’s Day Conclave: Eradicating Barriers to Gender Equality & Empowerment

To celebrate women and their achievements and to bring together their views about society, Pratidin media group organized Women's Day Conclave.
Women’s Day Conclave
Women’s Day Conclave

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, Pratidin Media Group organized the ‘Women’s Day Conclave’, a unique platform for leading women personalities to discuss onvarious concerns related to women community at present.

A host of women personalities from different spheres of the society including, academicians, bureaucrats, journalists, enforcers of law, activists, entrepreneurs, and the likes were the speakers of the special event.

On the other hand young and dynamic students from various institutions including the Gauhati University, Royal Global University, Cotton University, Guwahati College, Institution of Mass Communication and Media Studies and Dispur College were present at the event.

The conclave was held in association with the Assam Down Town University and Topcem Cement in Guwahati’s Imperial Estate. Itwas hosted by RanjitaBaruah.

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

A total of six topics on challenges and issues of women were deliberated in the conclave.

The first session of the conclave was on the topic ‘What Takes to Be a Leader?’ The moderator of the session wasIIE Head,Dr. Sriparna B. Baruah. The distinguished panelists of the session were entrepreneur Shanti Doley;businesswoman Nellie Ahmed; HOD of Radiocology and Oncology, Assam State Cancer Institute, Dr. SmritiGoswami and Rtd. Bureaucrat Nibedita Hazarika.

Discussions were made on hurdles faced by women in the business sector to establish themselves as their own boss. Their journey to reach their goals was real inspiration for many women who wished to achieve milestones in their lives.

The second session on the topic ‘Women in Power: Overcoming Hurdles or Making a Mark’ and the moderator of the session was Rakhee Chakraborty. The esteemed panelists were Golaghat SP, IPS Dr. Ramandeep Kaur and Member of the Assam State Youth Commission, MitaNath Bora. The panelists who were two powerful women in power stressed on the need to equally represent women in all areas of public life.

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

The third session was held on the topic ‘Women Empowerment in Art & Culture: Reality or Myth?’ The moderator for the session was AnjumoniBordoloi, senior anchor of Pratidin Time. The panelists of the session were eminent Indian actress Seema Biswas, theatre director RabjitaGogoi and Sattriya Dancer MeenakshiMedhi.

The session which focused on the various challenges that a woman faces in the cultural arena witnessed an interesting discourse with the three artists speaking about their life struggles.

Seema Biswas, a lady belonging to a humble family in Assam’s Nalbari who reached Bollywood, asked all women to aim at the ‘fish’s eye’.

Biswas said, “Each and every woman who attain fame in the music or film industry or any other cultural sphere undergo extreme struggle. Our struggle begins from our home. I believe Women’s Day celebrations must start at home. Women have the power to struggle and therefore she should not care about people and aim at the fish’s eye.”

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

Director RabjitaGogoi stressed on the requirement of women researchers in the field of art and culture for analyzing all works in a feministic way. She also spoke about various hurdles she faced during her initial days as a director.

MeenakshiMedhi opined that about 80 percent women have taken Sattriya dance forward today. It was a kind of dance form that women did not know till the 1950s.

The fourth session was on a very interesting topic ‘Beyond 33 Percent; Women in Politics’. The moderator for the session was Rakhee Chakraborty and the panelists were President of Assam Pradesh Youth Congress Ankita Dutta and Assam BJP Spokesperson Ratna Singh Bharadwaj.

Ratna Singh Bharadwaj started her opening remarks by giving the example of Nagaland where for the first time in the history of the state, two women MLAs won the assembly elections. Ratna Singh said that it was a historic day for Nagaland and a great example of women empowerment.

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

Bharadwaj also stated that one woman can help another and empower each other.

She said, “No political ideologies can stop a woman from nourishing.”

Discussions were also made on the reservations for women in parliament. Ankita Dutta opined that politics is perceived to be dirty and unsafe for women.

Dutta said, “Women do not get equal opportunity as men. If jobs of all men is regarded as ‘work’ then household chores of each mother also needs to be regarded as ‘work’. 

Speaking about dynasty politics, Ankita Dutta said, “Dynasty politics help women to some extinct. It is a known thing that in any industry, a woman has to fight. I had to struggle to reach my position as a woman president of the Assam Youth Congress.”

The fifth session on the topic ‘Northeast India and Dynamism in Women’ was presided over by Editor of Nandini Magazine Maini Mahanta. The esteemed panelists in the session were entrepreneur Anamika Choudhury, banker and social worker LakhimiBaruah and Entrepreneur AvantikaHaflongbarLangthasa.

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

The session witnessed a very fruitful discussion between leading women entrepreneurs of Assam.The power-packed session plays significance at a time when women entrepreneurship is on the rise and more and more women starting their own businesses and pursuing their dreams.

LakhimiBaruah, the founder of Assam's first women run Co-operative bank named ‘KonoklataMahila Urban Cooperative Bank’ while answering to a query put up by a moderator said that one has to always run after a chance in their lives.

The Padma Shree awardee said, “I have grown up facing a lot of financial crisis at my home. I have always focused on running after a chance in life. It took me eight years to just get a permission to establish a cooperative bank for women. So I have to say that you have to be determined and patient in what you do.”

Anamika Choudhury went on to say that when she started oxygen cylinder supply in various parts of Assam, people used to be shocked when they had to purchase cylinders from her. She also described her ordeal during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Women's Day Conclave
Women's Day Conclave

Fashion designer and leading blogger AvantikaHaflongbar in a lighter mood said that she started her journey with curiosity.

She said, “It is the curiosity of learning and experiencing all new things which made me leave Delhi and come back to Haflong. My curiosity has led to the launch of my own traditional textile brand. I have experienced many challenges in life. Certain times I’m also being trolled. But I always keep this in mind, that when anyone is being trolled, it shows that he or she is doing very well in terms of his work.”

The final session of the conclave was held on the topic ‘The New Education Policy’ and was presided over by Maini Mahanta. The panelists were educationalists Dr. Indranee Dutta and Dr. MonoromaSarma; and author and journalist IndraniRaimedhi.

A discourse on the New Education Policy (NEP) and the provision provided in it for girl students was discussed in the session. All panelists were those who had examined the NEP and its aspects. Dr. MonoromaSarma questioned whether funds were the only important factor in the NEP?  Further she also stated that patriarchic notions are being stressed on in the NEP.

“Most of the stories and biographies are male oriented. It is shocking that the word ‘female’ is used just 7 times and ‘gender’ word is used only 16 times in the NEP. We can observe from these things that the NEP is filled with patriarchic notions,” Dr. Sarma said.

Author and journalist IndraniRaimedhi stated that the real success of NEP will depend on the curriculum.

Educationalist Dr. Indranee Dutta was of the view that NEP was not good for women. She mentioned that some clauses of the NEP are completely male oriented.

International Women's Day is observed on March 8. The day celebrates the achievements of women and their presence in general. The day has developed into a forum for women to speak out and promote change over the years. It has been used to draw attention to problems like gender-based violence, pay disparities, lack of access to healthcare and education, and underrepresentation of women in politics and leadership positions.

The theme of this year’s Women’s Day celebrations is "DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality”. The key theme for the 67th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW-67), "Innovation and technological transformation, and education in the digital age for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls," is in line with this.

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