2nd Martha Farrell Award Ceremony held at Delhi 

2nd Martha Farrell Award Ceremony held at Delhi -Women empowerment through participation

       (Rahul Bali, Senior Correspondent, Sagar Media Inc, New Delhi)

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Martha Farrell Foundation has been working among women groups across India since inception. The core activities of the foundation are to empower women through participation and action-oriented programmes.

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Gender inequality has been the curse of all the developing and developed societies since civilization. Patriarchy and subordination of women are embedded in the social system of India. In societies such as ours, it is almost a given that women will spend much longer caring for the home and children than men.

In the 1850s the women groups in the United States of America struggled to include women in the provisions of 14th and 15th Amendments (Extending citizenship rights and granting voting rights). In India, Savitribai Phule opened the first school for girls in 1848 with the support of his husband Jyotirao Phule which allowed the women of marginalized sections of the society to get an education and prepare them to assert for their rights. Education is the only tool through which women and men can achieve social and economic mobility in life.

Patriarchal mindset in India needs to be changed. A girl child is not welcome at the time of birth. Statics reveal that women are vulnerable in every part of India. Public transport is often intermittent, they face harassment en route and late working hours leave them open to greater risk of violence. Casting couch is prevalent in every field of industry. According to 2016 report by National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) more than 3 lakh incidents of crime against women were recorded. Such crimes against women belonging to the marginalized sections of the society increased manifold.

India is an emerging economy. Data reveals that only 25 percent of Indian women are in the workforce, while for China it 70 percent. To reduce this gap, inclusive policies need to be formulated and implemented. Women need to develop a scientific outlook for that dogmatism and superstitions should be rejected. Dowry system needs to be annihilated.  Social and economic inequality can only be reduced through empowering women. Men monopolization over the mind of women needs to be demolished. They need to be empowered not only at the regional level but also at the national level. The representation of women in Parliament of India needs to include.

Since independence, several initiatives on the part of the government as well private organizations are taken in safeguarding the vulnerable women. Contributions by Martha Farrell Foundation, Society for Participatory Research in Asia ( PRIA) and Rizwan Adatia Foundation in empowering women are commendable and need to be supported by every sensitive citizen of the world.

During the function, awards under different category were given to individuals and institutions. The J&K Government has admitted in the Legislative Assembly while giving a reply that 11,786 cases of crime against women in 2016 were reported. Gang Rape, Kidnapping are common in the state of J& K. In that situation, Nadiya Shafi, a promising individual from Kashmir has been working among marginalized women groups to educate them about their constitutional and legal rights. Malti Sangne of RSCD, Maharashtra received institution category award. RSCD organized several programmes for the empowerment of marginalized women in the state of Maharashtra.

A dialogue took place on the sensitive issues concerning women among the panelists. Rizwan Adatia, Founder & Chairman of Rizwan Adatia Foundation, a visionary, philanthropist narrated his story how he began his journey from a humble background. His mother, a pious woman motivated him to engage in social services particularly for the vulnerable women. From that day onward, he and his family have been working for the upliftment and empowerment of marginalized women. Rizwan said: “There is need to bring about change in the minds and hearts of the people and create awareness in the society towards gender equality”.Sohail has been creating awareness among boys and girls through sports platform. He said: Girls and boys can understand better when they engage in open discussion”. The discussion was moderated by Ms Poonam Muttreja, Population Foundation of India. A song is sung by Tripy Sama, musical band mesmerized the audience. Nandita Pradhan Bhatt, Director, Martha Farrell Foundation thanked the guests for participation.

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