15 women achievers awarded on Womens Day

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New Delhi, Mar 8 (UNI) Fifteen women achievers were today awarded the Stree Shakti Puruskar on the occasion of the International Women's Day celebrated in the capital today The awards were given away by Prime Minister wife Gursharan Kaur and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at a function attended by Minister of state for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury.

Calling for women to strive together to fight social evils such as female foeticide and gender discrimination, Ms Gandhi said society should realise that sons and daughters were equal and should educate their daughters to put them on an equal footing.

Stating that the burden always fell on the woman, she said the UPA government had taken several steps to emancipate women starting from their representation in local panchayats, assured employment under the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee programme and raising the renumeration of anganwadi workers and helpers by 50 per cent.

The ideal society, she said, was one where ''no girl child was killed, no dowry victim lost her life and no child remained uneducated.'' Ms Chowdhury in her speech regretted that due to the killing of about 10 lakh girl child in the womb, the sex ratio would get even more skewed.

To address this, the Minister said the UPA Government had hiked the budget for the ministry by 24 per cent, the highest so far, describing the outlay as a ''quantum jump'' and part of the gender-sensitive approach of the government.

The minister announced that to coincide with the occasion, the Cash Certificate Transfer scheme aimed at the girl child, the Ujwala scheme for rehabilitation of trafficked women through vocational training programmes in partnership with ITC and VLCC, and using the railway ticket to promote and raise awareness about the girl child.

The weeklong celebrations culminated with a dance drama organised by Rasaja Foundation depicting the plight of girl child and release of the book ''Women 24 Secure'' by Mrs Gursharan Kaur.

UNI SD SW BD1611

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