New Delhi, Dec 16: Cutting across partyline, 20 Members of Parliament on Wednesday came on board a unique initiative that aims to connect them especially with the youth in their constituency and raise awareness about women issues.
"MP Connect: Redefining Leadership", an initiative started by BJP MP Anurag Thakur, brings together legislators to engage them with the youth in their constituencies and spread awareness on gender equality, women education, women empowerment, among others.
Launched today, "MP Connect" saw participation of MPs from both the Lok Sabha as well as Rajya Sabha, which include Supriya Sule (NCP), Rajiv Shukla and Gaurav Gogoi (Cong), Paresh Rawal, Jagdambika Pal, Babul Supriyo, Manoj Tiwary, Meenakshi Lekhi, Dushyant Singh, Poonam Madan, Harish Dwivedi, Nishikant Dubey, Virendra Kashyap, Ram Swaroop Sharma, Pritam Munde, Om Birla (all BJP), Chirag Paswan (LJP), Aunpriya Patel (Apna Dal), Dushyant (INLD), Shatabdi Roy (TMC).
Speaking on the occasion, Thakur said, the December 16 incident may have passed, but it had raised a question about women safety in our country.
"The 15th Lok Sabha has discussed several times about having a stricter law to overcome this issue. But we have to ask is it a stricter law or some other loophole in the system that needs to be plugged?" he said.
"We have to think whether we have been able to prevent such incidents despite having strict laws," the BJP MP said, adding a law is as good or bad as its implementation.
In local areas, he said, it is the responsibility of MPs to ensure provision of facilities from drains to bus stands to getting the region railway lines and hospitals.
"But it is time we prioritised women and daughters at constituency-levels. We are starting with a small group of MPs today, but we know the power of an MP and let us not keep it restricted to states only," Thakur said.
NCP MP Supriya Sule hailed the initiative saying "very often we see women speak for women's cause but this is nice that this time it is our brother Anurag who has started this initiative.
"We will work together and rise above party line to ensure that women feel safe and secure in the country," she said.
BJP MP from Ahmedabad Paresh Rawal stressed on the need for raising the awareness about women's issues. "Also, schools and colleges should have women's issues in their syllabus.
Moreover, like I say, sadhu-sants should also be taken on board to spread awareness on women's issues through there public discourses," the actor-politician said.
Congress MP Rajiv Shukla congratulated Thakur for coming up with the event and said there was a need to work to change the mindset of people towards women.
"MP Connect" seeks to facilitate communication of MPs and administration to chart out creative, constituency-specific plans to aware citizens and raise awareness among them.
The programme also include workshops for women and girls in self-defence and presentation of street-plays, exhibitions, debates and flash mobs.
The three-pronged initiative will work at local level connecting an MP with the youth of his area on a monthly basis to discuss and work on issues concerning women, including crime, domestic violence, gender equality, legal advice, among others.
It will also work to engage with the youth and improve its participation in ground work on women's issues. The initiative is supported by Thakur's "Honour Our Women" foundation, which was formed after the 2012 Nirbhaya incident to press for women's cause.
"There have been efforts made to this end, but such an initiative was needed to reach to wider and more localised areas. It's a good thing that MPs rising above party line have come to be a part of 'MP Connect'," said Manoj Tiwari, who is an MP from northwest Delhi constituency.
"Such efforts will bear results in coming time I am hopeful of that," he added.