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It was a great delight, honour and a source of learning to be at the National Women’s Parliament in Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh, and interact with and listen to so many achievers, leaders, law-makers, students and youth, and get a sense of their vision, aspirations, challenges, frustrations and plans to overcoming hurdles.

In my speech at the Plenary Session on Women’s Status and Decision Making Power, I contested that India being branded as country where women do not enjoy as much as men do in all spheres of life is not, per se, true. Historically, women commanded lot of respect and held a venerable position in India. I don’t have to take you on a guided tour in a time machine from Vedic age to the current day to establish this truth.

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There is no dearth of women, who have proved their merit and might in all field of life, education, work and careers, sports, Non-profits, science & technology, business, government, military, politics and public life – they have demonstrated again and again that they are better than men.
The only thing that holds them back is violence. Violence in all forms – harassment at home, work and public places, crimes against women, reported and unreported – this is the single largest reason why women are held back.

I argue with all humility – violence and crime against women are taking away all good things about India. And the biggest area of work, in my view, is that we need a quantum shift in attitude and mindset, especially of men. Empowerment of women comes down to restoring a level-playing field. And more and more women should come forward and claim it.

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People who have realised the value of freeing women from shackles of restrictions and fears; such people have contributed to a liberated society. Economic empowerment, political empowerment, role in governance, role in policy making and all other sorts of empowerment will follow change in our mindsets.
The time has come for women to not just survive, or strive for dignity and self-respect, opportunity and self-realisation, but to rule. They are destined to command status they deserve. And no force can stop them.

The century of women has started, and no force and stop or reverse it.