NEW DELHI — March 8 marked International Women’s Day and was celebrated in India with promises of closing the gender gap, while across Europe and Asia, women used the platform as a way to strike and protest.
Across India, a host of events were held, new programs launched and women achievers awarded to recall the nation's commitment towards women's empowerment and ending gender disparity, according to an IANS report.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi marked the day with a visit to Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu district, which was in the news recently for a remarkable transformation in closing the gender gap, the report said.
Modi, addressing a large gathering, comprising mostly women, called for a mass movement to protect the girl child in India and expanded his government's flagship "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" campaign from the existing 161 to cover all districts of the country, the news service noted.
The prime minister said it was about the mindset and that society needed to unite and battle the problem of the disturbing sex ratio in the country.
"We have to make it a revolution that number of girls taking birth should be equal to that of boys, the education provided to boys should also be given to girls, then only we can move ahead," he said, according to the report.
Modi lamented how preference for male children had made 21st century India worse than what it was in the 18th century when a girl child was at least allowed to take birth before being drowned in a milk tub, it said.
Additionally in India, Modi’s parliament colleagues, cutting across party lines, raised the long pending demand of Women's Reservation Bill — which seeks to reserve one-third of all seats for women in the Lok Sabha and the state legislative assemblies, IANS reported.
The bill was introduced in parliament in May 2008. In 2010, the then UPA government adopted it in the Rajya Sabha to keep it alive on the legislative agenda. The bill, however, failed to get passed in the Lok Sabha, it said.
MPs, particularly women, spoke in favor of the bill, urging the government to ensure its passage.
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Nari Shakti Puraskar to women from fields as diverse as sports, art, social work, science, conservation, agriculture, education, security, handicrafts and defense, IANS reported.
Away from the power corridors, industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry said it has tied-up with NITI Aayog for the Women Entrepreneurship Platform, the report said.
The initiative will provide women entrepreneurs a platform where various stakeholders will connect to give a boost to their initiatives, it said.
Commemorating International Women's Day, Skill India said it has transformed lives of over 4 million women through skill training, empowering them for better and secured livelihood over the last three years, it added.
To mark the day in Bangalore, Union Railways Minister Piyush Goyal announced that the Banaswadi railway station in the city will be run entirely by women, according to the report.
Apart from this, other all-women-run railway stations are located in Matunga in Mumbai, Gandhinagar in Jaipur, Chandragiri in Andhra Pradesh's Chittoor district and Ajni in Nagpur, Maharashtra, it said.
In India, hundreds of women, including students, teachers and sex workers, marched through the capital to bring attention to domestic violence, sexual attacks and discrimination in jobs and wages, according to the Associated Press.
"Unite against violence against women," one placard urged, the report said. "Man enough to say no to domestic abuse," said another. "My body, My choice."
At rallies in the Pakistan capital Islamabad, its largest city Karachi, and the cultural capital of Lahore, women denounced violence against them in Pakistan, where nearly 1,000 women are killed by close relatives each year in so-called honor killings, AP reported.
Pakistani women have largely been deprived of their rights since the country gained independence in 1947, the Associated Press reported.
In all, many rallies, protests and demonstrations were held throughout parts of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.