Women's summit a bid to remove Delhi's 'rape capital' taint

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New Delhi, Sep 16: What has been done since the horrific Dec 16, 2012, gang-rape and murder? What remains to be done? These are just two of many questions that will be raised at the Women of India Leadership Summit later this month that was conceived as a direct response to what happened two years ago.

"The aim of the Summit is that by 2020, Delhi should stop being known as the rape capital of the country and instead be the place where women have created enough safety and security for themselves by being in charge of all that helps them become independent and safe," entrepreneur and social activist Mudita Chandra, who helped conceive the Sep 18-20 event, told IANS.

"The Summit aims to create a community of change makers who, by acquiring practical techniques and skills will further start a chain reaction for women in their communities to be able to take a stand, be it financial, emotional or physical," Chandra added.

To this end, the organisers have invited established men and women from various fields to contribute their thoughts and ideas, debate, deliberate and even act out their vision of what they would like to change in the city.

Apart from the daily sessions, the summit will also include various 'take a break' sessions and performances. Certain sessions have been conceptualised especially for men such as defeating rape culture, re-defining masculinity, consent culture and boundaries in order to encourage men to be active participants in making India safer for women.

Additionally the summit will showcase four plays, including the world-renowned "The Vagina Monologues" by well known playwright and feminist Eve Ensler.

According to journalist and filmmaker Revati Laul, the reason why this summit is different is that it includes the male perspective which is very important in ensuring a change in the mindset.

"For things to change in more tangible ways we cannot expect centuries of conditioning and acculturation to be washed out in two years or three. But the conversations need to continue and keep tacking themselves to tangible changes on the ground and reacting to all forms of resistance to change when and where it occurs. There also needs to be much more nuance and I think this summit helps by widening the scope of the discussions and also including men at its core," Laul told IANS.

Sreemoyee Pia Kundu, whose latest novel "Sita's Curse" has thrown open a whole new debate on women and sexuality in India, will be one of the speakers at the summit.

According to Kundu, much is still needed to be done to change the situation of women in the capital.

"Only education can be the key to this eventual enlightenment, and we are still light years away, in terms of policies that are truly pro-woman - that protect the girl child, that provide her equal opportunities, schooling, hygienic toilets, that save her from the evil effects of superstitions, speed tracking cases of child molestation, girl sex trafficking, rape, marital rape... the list is really endless," Kundu told IANS.

With an eclectic line-up of speakers and performers, the summit promises to be an interesting take on the various issues facing women, not only in the capital but around the country.

IANS

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