Women Voices Resound in India’s Political, Social, Diplomatic and Cultural Spheres- Saira Shah at NAM

Educator and rights activist Saira Shah Halim spotlights India's progress at NAM, advocating for parliamentary reservation, addressing challenges, and emphasizing the need for gender equality in diverse communities

Kolkata: Women in India are on the verge of getting one-third reservation in the Indian parliament. They are excelling in the political, social, diplomatic, and cultural arenas. Saira Shah Halim, an educator and rights activist, stated during the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) conference in Baku in 2023.

The NAM conference, focusing on advancing the rights and empowerment of women was held on November 20 and 21.

The conference was co-organized by Azerbaijan, the current chair of the Non-Aligned Movement, as well as Uganda and Uzbekistan, the next chairs of the organization.

On the first day of the conference, a side event organized by the Institute of Young Democrats provided an opportunity for NAM Member States and NGOs to discuss themes such as women’s rights, empowerment, and other critical gender equality issues.

Institute of Young Democrats Chairperson Yegana Hajiyeva said, “We are honored to host this gathering of esteemed guests and participants, all of whom are representatives of NAM member countries. This unprecedented event marks a significant step forward for the NAM region, demonstrating our unwavering commitment to women’s empowerment and gender equality.”

In her speech, the specially invited guest, Saira Shah, also informed the gathering that the legal marriage age for girls in India has been increased from 18 to 21.

“We also have a program called Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Save Girl Child and Educate Her), she informed NAM members.

“There is a plethora of women voices in India, and women are doing wonders in the political arena, social arena, diplomatic arena, and cultural arena,” she mentioned.

When Saira was delivering her speech, the screen in the background was displaying profiles and pictures of Indian women achievers.

Listen to Saira Shah Halim’s speech

Despite India’s progress, challenges persist

However, the rights activist also addressed the challenges still plaguing India, particularly impacting the women’s community.

“Female infanticide is still being practiced in India,” Saira, the mother of two daughters, also mentioned. “The social injustices like the dowry system are also a norm, where society thinks that girls are a burden. But activists are talking about this discrimination and making people aware that girls are equal to boys.”

“There are a large number of villages where electricity is yet to reach. Because of this, a huge part of the country, especially girls, have no exposure to digitalization or computerization,” Saira expressed concern.

She talked about the uniqueness of India and mentioned that every state in India is a different country because of its diversity. There are hundreds of languages and dialects being spoken in India.

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