President seeks close links between women bodies of Vietnam, India

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Hanoi, Vietnam, Nov 26 (UNI) President Pratibha Devisingh Patil today called for close ties between the women organisations of India and Vietnam to exchange views on women issues and promotion of people-to-people relations.

Addressing a meeting of prominent Vietnamese women leaders at the Vietnam Women's Union soon after her arrival here from Ho Chi Minh city of south Vietnam, the President, however, expressed her pain over the continuing inequality against women in many parts of the world.

It was unfortunate that women, who accounted for half the global population, are still deprived of ''the same opportunities as their male counterparts, and often face discrimination or social biases,'' she said.

The President said India was making serious efforts for the empowerment of women. ''In India, the government is serioiusly engaged in the task of empowerment of women and gender equality,'' she said and asked the Vietnamese women about the situation in their country, challenges being faced by them and the strategy adopted by them to address to these difficulties.

The President said among the steps taken by India in this regard was to educate them. ''It is only when we spread education among women that awareness will be created and the rights of women will be fully realised,'' she said and praised Vietnam for having high litracy rate among women, thus creating conducive conditions for the empowerment of women.

Ms Patil added her country had given 33 per cent representation to women in local bodies to encourage their greater participation of women in national life. Legislatures at the national and state levels had enacted laws for their protection and to promote their welfare, she told the gathering.

In addition, women-specific and women-related policies and programmes had also been formulated in India and the government was making efforts to create enabling environment in which women's concerns could be addressed, the President said.

Speaking about the growth of the women's movement in the country, she said a large number of non-governmental organisations and self-help groups of women were working in coordination with the government at the grassroot level. ''In fact, the self-help groups are vehicles for undertaking income generation activities through the raising of credit facilities,'' she said.

The President praised the Vietnamese women for playing an important role in the development of their nation. Their contribution, ranging from agricultural operations to running businesses besides looking after their families was also strengthening the social fabric of the country, she noted.

The President also praised the high rate of literacy among women in Vietnam, thus creating conducive conditions for their empowerment.

UNI KAS SKB RN1955

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