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Event organized by Permanent Mission of India and the All India Women’s Education Fund Association on the sidelines of the 65th session of the UN Commission on Status of Women


'A World We Women Want: Gender-Just and Violence-Free’


(08.30-0945 am; 18 March 2021)


Remarks by Ambassador T.S. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the United Nations



Ms. Asha Chandra, President, All-India Women’s Education Fund Association, Excellencies and Friends,


We are delighted to partner with All India Women's Education Fund Association (AIWEFA) in organizing today’s event during the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women.


I would like to thank the participation of Ms Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, Mr. Ram Mohan Mishra, Secretary (Vice Minister) of Ministry of Women & Child Development of India, Ambassador Juan Ramón Ramírez and Ambassador Geraldine Nason – Co-chairs of Security Council’s Informal Expert Group on Women Peace and Security and Ms Anita Bhatia, Deputy Executive Director of UN Women.


The theme of today’s event 'A World We Women Want: Gender-Just and Violence-Free' resonates with the priority theme of the CSW65 focusing on women’s participation in public life and elimination of violence for achieving gender equality. In fact, for India this is of priority focus, since our Prime Minister has moved India from a paradigm of women’s development to women-led development. Women’s role has become even more relevant during the Covid pandemic which has devastated many families and livelihood. Our Government has taken steps on a range of women-focused and gender-sensitive initiatives to provide immediate protection and relief for women in our society. India is also proud to use its pharmaceutical infrastructure for production of vaccines for all humanity. In this context, I appreciate the role of UNICEF and Ms. Henrietta Fore, who is present here today.


Women have always been central to Indian political life and society and inspired us in our civilisational journey. During our freedom struggle, women were at the forefront, including in all women Regiment in the Indian National Army - Rani of Jhansi Regiment. Our underlying value system can be summarized in words of a great philosopher Swami Vivekanand who said, (I quote) 'There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved. It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing'.


As a founding member of the United Nations and since the beginning, Indian women leaders have contributed immensely in shaping the concepts and discourse on human rights and gender equality, including through leading by personal example.


One such figure was Ms. Hansa Jivraj Mehta, a great reformer and educator. She served as the Indian delegate to the UN Commission on Human Rights as the only other woman delegate along with Mme. Eleanor Roosevelt. Ms. Mehta is widely known for ensuring a gender sensitive language in the landmark Universal Declaration of Human Rights by changing the phrase “All men are born free and equal” to “All human beings are born free and equal” in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration.


Another important figure was Ms. Lakshmi Menon, the Indian delegate to the UN General Assembly and the Head of the Commission on Status of Women as early as 1949-50. She was an outspoken advocate of the ‘universality’ of human rights. Ms. Menon strongly opposed the concept of ‘colonial relativism’, which sought to deny human rights to people in countries under colonial rule. Menon famously called it an attempt to ‘justify what cannot be justified’.


One of their contemporaries was Begum Shareefah Hamid Ali, who started her political career as a follower of Mahatma Gandhi, and became the President of the All-India Women’s Conference in 1935. She joined as one of 15 women in the first UN Commission on the Status of Women, drafting the principles that guide the Commission in its work to this date.


Mrs. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was the first woman President of the General Assembly in 1953.


Friends, Over the decades, India has worked closely with the United Nations system in promoting and advocating gender equality and empowerment of women. The Commission on the Status of Women has emerged as a unique and the largest platform for policy makers for dialogue and to set global norms and standards. The Commission pioneered in the adoption of a number of Conventions for protection and promotion of women’s rights, including for example the landmark Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1979.


Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995 marked a significant turning point for the global agenda for gender equality. It is considered the key global policy document on gender equality and international policies towards it.


Further the Security Council adopted a resolution in 2000 focusing on Women, Peace and Security Agenda highlighting the disproportionate impact of conflict on women and the vital roles women play in peace and security. India also pioneered women in peacekeeping when we sent the first women UN police peacekeeping contingent to Liberia.


UN Women since its creation in 2010 has elevated and intensified gender equality and women’s empowerment related global discourse. Mrs. Lakshmi Puri of India who served as ASG and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women since its inception, contributed to building the UN Women into a dynamic entity. Ms. Anita Bhatia, ASG is here with us today.


Gender related issues were at the core of the discussion and development of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. SDG 5 focuses on achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls while ensuring women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life. Today, in India, more than 1.3 million elected women representatives lead in formulation and implementation of public policies at grassroots level.


In line with its priority to empower women, the Government is implementing a series of flagship programmes focusing on women, including on their financial, digital and health inclusion.  I am sure that Mr. Ram Mohan Mishra, Secretary of the Ministry of Women and Child Development will speak about policies and actions adopted by India.


I once again thank the organisers, AIWEFA, for bringing us together to share our thoughts on this very important and topical theme. I thank the speakers and all of you for participating in this important event.


I thank you.