Pondicherry government keen on empowerment of women, says CM

A teenager from a tribal community receives an award for fighting against child marriage; Bedi launches Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana for pregnant women

A teenager from a tribal community receives an award for fighting against child marriage; Bedi launches Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana for pregnant women

Sounding a cautionary note amid celebrations marking International Women’s Day, psychiatrist N. Shalini urged women to consider whether they have laid a secure foundation for future generations.

“The answer is no. We haven’t,” said Dr Shalini, addressing the audience at Kamban Kalai Aragam at a reception hosted by the Department of Women and Child Development at Pondicherry Thursday.

“Today is a day to appreciate the struggles of women who have brought us to where we are today. We also have to think about how we are going to use the power we have acquired,” she said.

Education problem

“In the discourse on women’s empowerment, we have completely ignored men. They have not been taught to behave, respect and treat women equally. There is a problem in their upbringing that needs to be addressed,” Dr Shalini said.

In her special address, Lieutenant Governor Kiran Bedi said that Pondicherry will see development led by women.

“Women are more numerous here and can be development leaders. Women can work much more for development,” she said, adding that women voters outnumbered men in Pondicherry, unlike neighboring states.

“I discussed with the Chief Secretary keeping a list of all the incentives offered to women which are unique to Pondicherry. This should be published so that people know how much social work is being done by the government of Pondicherry “, she said.

Stating that Pondicherry has the best Anganwadi services, she said, “We should improve networking in our neighborhood whether it is in rural or urban areas. Women’s groups need to find time to organize a support system for each other. In some homes, there are complaints of domestic violence. It is an offense and there are protection officers who can step in and courts to mediate and provide help through free legal aid.

Chief Minister V.Narayanasamy emphasized the message of political empowerment of women.

“The government of Pondicherry is not only concerned with the protection of women but also with their development,” he said.

When Nettapakkam MP V.Vizeaveny began her speech by lashing out at lip service to women on International Women’s Day, the reaction of political leaders on stage did not didn’t seem encouraging. “Is there anything good happening to women? I came ready to talk. The men won’t let us talk,” she said.

“Cultural degradation”

Uppalam MLA A.Anbalagan mocked how some women claim equality with men by imitating them in their clothes and habits. “It’s cultural degradation,” he said. Later, he blamed the lieutenant governor for stopping the government at every stage of implementing welfare programs. “When I heard that Ms Bedi would be the Lieutenant Governor of Pondicherry, I was delighted. I thought we might see progress in Pondicherry but no,” he said.

He also blamed the government for not paying wages to Anganwadi workers every month. “They have to wait more than five months, stage protests and beg for their salaries,” he said.

Responding to his criticisms, the chief minister said Mr Anbalagan only criticizes others and fails to acknowledge progress.

Minister of Social Affairs Mr. Kandasamy, Chief Secretary Ashwani Kumar and MP TR Pattinam A.Geetha were present.

Winners

An achievement award was given to 18-year-old R.Kowsalya from the tribal community who fought against child marriage to further her education. She is now pursuing nursing studies in Pondicherry.

Vinodhini, 23, also received the award for her specialization in photography which remains a male stronghold and Chandra, a widow, received the award for establishing 25 self-help groups in Pondicherry.

The Lieutenant Governor has launched Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana for pregnant women who will each receive ₹5,000 in three installments to improve their health.

Later, the sanitation workers received a torch and hats.

Mara R. Wilmoth