SAARC meet for inter-faith network to counter fundamentalism

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New Delhi, Jan 19 (UNI) The Sixth South Asia Regional Ministerial Conference today pledged to strengthen women's participation and leadership capacity in decision-making at all levels and create a network of inter-faith leaders who can help in countering the impact of fundamentalism and terrorism.

''The Conference touched upon the issue of rise of fundamentalism and its discriminatory attitude towards women. In Bangladesh, India and Nepal, inter-faith leaders have come forward to fight fundamentalism and not let it rule people's minds. This can be one of the solutions to counter its impact,'' said Ms Chandni Joshi, regional programme advisor of UNIFEM, addressing reporters at the conclusion of the two-day meet.

In a declaration adopted at the meeting, the participants identified areas which will be taken up on a priority basis over the next two years and resolved to ensure resource allocations, authority and status for national machineries for women.

Dr Kiran Chadha of the Ministry of Women and Child Development admitted that there has been lack of expeditious enactment of legislation on gender equality and amendment of discriminatory laws.

Reaffirming its committment to the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discimination Against Women (CEDAW), the conference resolved to ensure that the human rights of women in conflict and disaster situations are protected and that they have the right to pass their nationality to their children.

The summit recognised that there has been continuing gaps and challenges in implemtation of plans and policies relating to woemn due to inadequate allocation of resources.

The two - day conference was attended by ministers responsible for women's development from the SAARC countries, SAARC Director Hasan Shifau, Secretaries of the Women's Ministries and a section of civil society through women's organisations from the region.

The conference was inaugurated by President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

Participating countries like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, India, Maldives presented their respective country reports on their progress on such parameters as violence against women, including trafficking and female foeticide, political and economic empowerment of women, disaster preparedness, issues of peace and security during reconstruction, health and education spheres.

UNI MMG AKJ RK1855

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