'Women' rejoice as country celebrates Intl Women's Day with grandeur

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New Delhi, Mar 8 (UNI) President Pratibha Patil, the first woman President of the nation, today led the nation in International Women's Day celebrations which were marked by functions across the country.

Five women scientists were presented the National awards by the President in the capital today.

Dr Rani Bang from Maharashtra and Dr Vijaya Lakshmi from Andhra Pradesh got the National Award, 2007, for Women's Development Through Application of Science and Technology.

Three other scientists-- Dr Mitali Mukerji, Dr Sangita Mukhopadhyay and Dr Sujata Sharma-- were given the National Women Bioscientist Award, 2007, (Young Category).

President Patil also urged the Government to launch a scholarship scheme for the 'girl child', who wishes to pursue science courses.

''As the enrollment of girls in the science discipline is limited, our efforts to nurture women scientists must, therefore, begin at the school level,'' Ms Patil said, after inaugurating the National Conference of Women Scientists and presenting the National Awards for Women's Development to five scientists.

She also asked the agricultural scientists, including women, to usher in the second green revolution in the country.

Fifteen women achievers were also awarded the Stree Shakti Puruskar on this special occasion. The awards were given away by UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur 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.

The ideal society, she said, was one where ''no girl child was killed, no dowry victim lost her life and no child remained uneducated.'' Representatives of women's groups in the Capital also presented a charter of demands to Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, demanding 33 per cent reservation in legislature and gender-sensitive governance.

Representatives from the All India Democratic Women's Association, All India Women's Conference, Joint Women's Programme, YWCA, Women's Political Watch and a host of others came together on the occasion. ''Redeem your pledges, keep your promise to the millions of women and deliver what is due to them,'' said Dr Mohini Giri of Guild of Services at a function to observe the Women's day.

Haryana also celebrated this day showing much encouragement and recognition towards girls and women for higher education in India and abroad, with the state government subsidising the interest liability by five per cent on educational loans taken by them.

Congratulating women on the occasion of International Women Day today, Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said his government was committed to uplift the socio-economic status of women and a number of new schemes had been launched during the last three years for their empowerment and development.

The Chandigarh Administration has decided to double the assistance amount for providing the financial assistance for marriage of daughters of widows and destitute women belonging to the Scheduled Castes.

In Punjab, Lok Bhallai Party president Balwant Singh Ramoowalia has urged the Punjab Chief Minister to devote atleast three days in the ongoing Assembly session on the pitiable conditions of Punjabi women.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Ramoowalia said the state government must take notice on the plight of Punjabi women, who were being harassed by their NRI husbands and left to either fight cases in courts or to bring up children born out of the wedlock.

Mr Ramoowalia said the International Women's Day has no significance for such Punjabi women, who were abondoned by their husbands for more dowry.

In Madhya Pradesh, BJP leader and former union minister Sushme Swaraj, celebrating this day, said women could be empowered through education, economic self-reliance and political will.

Many programmes were also organised in the Chennai city by several organisations to mark this special day.

Country's first woman IPS officer Kiran Bedi, speaking at the 'International Women's Day' celebrations in the city, termed this day as a 'day of humanity', one which celebrates and symbolises everything about life.

''Women have talent and leadership abilities. We just have to let them in and make them visible,'' the Magsaysay awardee said.

UNI TEAM PY RAI1958

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