Recently, ministers and representatives from 12 states gathered in New Delhi. The nature of this meeting was to discuss possible strategies in order to create a deal, and hopefully a lasting alliance, with international organizations and individual private sectors to enact gender equality and further women’s empowerment in both the United States and India.
The conclave was held during the span of one day and was hosted by the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and the NGO, Shakti Vahini. Support was also given by the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the U.S. Embassy. Participants in the dialogue included state ministers for women and child development, state government officials, international organizations, industry representatives, and various NGOs that are affiliated with the cause.
The DCW is an organization charged with the task of protecting Indian women and girls, as well as investigating whether their safety is ever under siege by law. The commission works similarly to a civil court, and it has various tools and resources for women, such as Sahyogini, Mahila Panchayats, Rape Crisis Cell, Mobile Help Line and Pre Marital Counselling Cell.
Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi’s Chief Minister, was present, and gave high praise to the good work the DCW is doing. According to India Today, the DCW provided a statement that says, “[The Chief Minister] said that politics should be kept away from issues related to women and girls, and that people indulging in politics should not forget that they too have women family members.”
This statement, which supposedly came from Kejriwal himself, is a huge step forward in the discussion between the US and India, in regards to women and gender equality. Women have been fighting to keep politics from encroaching on their bodies for generations. Complete jurisdiction over one’s own self should not be up for debate by a group of (mostly male) politicians. While the Chief Minister attempts to make it personal, because most of these policy makers do have mothers and daughters to go home to, it can be argued that having a woman in one’s family shouldn’t be the only incentive to advocate for female empowerment.
The forum’s dialogues revolved around common challenges, shared best practices, and most importantly, spoke about the hope for the future of US-India cooperation in combating these issues. In today’s political climate especially, we hear a lot about intersectionality in regards to feminism, but it’s important to understand what that term really means. Having this partnership between nations can continue to highlight the significance of including all women, regardless of race or sexuality or any other differences, in the conversation on gender equality. Together forum members attempted to better understand the obstacles that hinder all women and girls globally.
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