Other Statements Other Statements

Presentation of the book

“4 out of 74: Women Trailblazers at the United Nations”

[10.30 am, 1 September 2021]


Remarks by Ambassador TS. Tirumurti

Permanent Representative of India to the UN


Excellencies and colleagues,


I would like to thank Ambassador Maurizio Massari of Italy and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women Ms. Anita Bhatia for bringing us all together to launch the book “4 out of 74: Women Trailblazers at the United Nations”.


2. My deep appreciation and felicitations to the President of the 73rd General Assembly, H. E. Maria Fernanda Espinosa and her team for producing this painstakingly researched and timely work.


3. The book is a fascinating account of not only the accomplishments of the four women Presidents of the General Assembly but gives extraordinary insights into the socio-economic and political contexts of their respective countries and the world at large. It is above all an important historical document.


4. Dr. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit was an extraordinary human being in her own right. She was extremely active during the Indian freedom struggle, being imprisoned thrice, and also in Indian political life, serving as the first woman cabinet minister in pre-independence India. Politics and diplomacy was in her blood and this was manifested in her illustrious diplomatic career and her continued fight for democracy and human rights in her political life.


5. As Dr. Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit said “The building of a just and peaceful world order, the aim of the United Nations, is hampered not by a dearth of ideas, resources, and manpower but by the lack of will on the part of governments to take the required steps”. This is as true today as it was in the 1950s.


6. Along with her, several other Indian women leaders contributed immensely to the UN in its formative years, shaping the discourse on human rights and gender equality. These included Dr Hansa Mehta, Begum Shareefa Hamid Ali, and Lakshmi Menon. As India was in the process of institution-building at home, they brought their unique experience and perspectives to the process of global norm-building at the UN.

7. That tradition has continued to this day, with stellar contributions being made by Indian women to the UN.

8. Indian women have also been leading contributors to UN peacekeeping efforts - India was the first to deploy an all-women peacekeeping contingent to Liberia in 2007. I would like to underline here the crucial role women can and should play in conflict resolution and peacebuilding.

9. Excellencies, India has always attached utmost importance to representation of women in decision making positions. Today, more than 1.4 million elected women representatives lead in formulation and implementation of public policies at grassroots level: more than 40% of the elected heads of villages in India are women. This is where the next generation of Indian women leaders are emerging.


10. We must keep in mind however, that representation does not necessarily lead to participation. India is looking not just at women’s development but women-led development. The Indian Government is implementing a series of flagship programmes focusing on women, including on their financial, digital and health inclusion. 




11. “4 out of 74”, rather 75 and now 76, is of course, far too few. In the years to come, I am confident that these four trailblazers, all of whom were from the Global South, will show the way to women-led progress and prosperity.


Thank you.