UN Women signs pact with Kerala govt's Gender Park

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Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 21 (PTI): Hailing Kerala as the lighthouse of the global South in women empowerment, UN Women on Monday entered into an agreement that recognisedthe state governments Gender Park as South Asias hub for gender equality.

While the world body reiterated that Kerala has been a role model for the rest of the world through exemplary leadership in gender equality initiatives, Chief Minister of the statePinarayi Vijayan described the partnership as a step in the right direction to further the cause of a just and equal society.

Dr P T M Sunish, CEO of the Gender Park, an autonomous body under the state government, signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UN Women Deputy Country Representative Nishtha Satyam at Cliff House, the Chief Ministers official residence here.

The two officials exchanged the agreement, marking the start of many ambitious projects where the UN Women would offer project development and capacity-building to the Gender Park for the empowerment of women in South Asia.

Undoubtedly, Kerala is one of the best places in the region to emerge as a hub of gender discourse, Vijayan said.

Noting that the states women are among the countrys most educated, he quoted a recent official survey that cited a rise in female workforce participation to 20.4 per cent in 2018-19 from 16.4 per cent in 2017-18.

The Chief Minister stressed the need for social enterprises and businesses to be gender-inclusive so as to empower communities.

This is important for us to achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, he said, adding the government looks forward to the cooperation with UN Women and its contributions to Kerala society.

Earlier, state minister for Health, Social Justice and Women & Child Development K K Shailaja said the park provides gender-related policy advice, research, education and social initiatives to reduce gender gaps in society.

The Gender Parks flagship projects handhold aspiring women entrepreneurs by giving them unlimited opportunities to move forward.

Recalling the governments meeting in October last year with Satyam, the Minister said she is happy to formalise this association.

Shailaja, listing the programmes the government has been carrying out with the aim of gender equality and empowerment of the transgender community, said thousands of women comprised the states army of COVID-19 warriors.

Also, she highlighted some of the prominent projects of the Gender Park acting as a convergence point for all gender-related activities in the state - a gender library and a museum, besides an iWTC that would be the worlds first global trade centre for women all of it on the Kozhikode campus.

Satyam, in her keynote address, lauded pro-women steps such as Keralas 24/7 She Taxi, the three-tier community network to empower women, jobs for transgenders and stress management amid the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

While gender remains underinvested even as there is rhetoric around the notion, women empowerment is a key to socio-cultural development.

The introduction of pink wheel patrols to ensure the safety of women in public places, training women police personnel and an armed women police battalion in 2017 are some of the examples of gender equality measures in Kerala, Satyam said.

Biju Prabhakar, Secretary, Social Justice and Women & Child Development, said the Gender Parks partnership with the UN Women is set to accelerate and widen the activities of the 2013-founded Gender Park headquartered in Thiruvananthapuram.

He gave a brief idea of the projects and programmes on gender equality.

The partnership agenda includes a gender data entre at the parks 24-acre Kozhikode campus that also houses an International Institute for Gender and Development.

UN Women, established in 2010, works with the all strata of society to promote gender equality.

Its Delhi chapter comprises India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and the Maldives.

The organisation provides advocacy for budget and national planning with a view to empowering women.

The UN Women Multi-Country Office located in Delhi would support Gender Park to develop it into a South Asia hub for gender-related activities. PTI UD NVG NVG