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India cannot be self-reliant without AatmanNirbhar women and girls: Lakshmi M Puri.

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“India cannot have an AatmanNirbharBharat (self-reliant India) without AatmanNirbhar girls and women. India represents such a large population, it is the microcosm and the macrocosm of our achieving gender equality in the world. Empowering the women and girl child with education, skills and confidence that they can do anything and be anyone, brings huge benefit for the government, society, economy, country and humanity at large,” said Ms Lakshmi M Puri addressing a virtual session of Muskaan series based on the topic ‘Empowering girls for a better tomorrow.

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Ms Lakshmi M Puri is a former IFS officer and ambassador who served at the United Nations for 15 years as director, International Trade Division, UNCTAD. She also served as the Assistant Secretary General, United Nations and the founding Deputy Executive Director of UNWOMEN. Ms Puri is a distinguished fellow of Indian Association of International Studies and recipient of the prestigious Eleanor Roosevelt Prize for Human Rights.

Ms Puri was the guest speaker at the session of Muskaan in which principals, students, teachers, educators and parents logged in. Mr John Bagul, Founder-Principal of South City International School, Kolkata, introduced the session which was moderated by Ms Sumitra Ray, Student Programme Advisor, PKF. “All the girls should become the torch bearers of sustainable development goals (SDGs),” Ms Puri said.

Quoting feminist Gloria Steinheim, Puri said, “You have to wage a million mutinies every day, everywhere and in every way. You will have to stand up for your beliefs and convert others to your cause to promote gender equality.”

Alluding to some key ideas linked to the United Nations SDGs, Ms Puri said gender equality is one of the most important projects of this Century for humanity taken up by the United Nations. The essence of the project is to recognise and act upon that recognition that the equality and full humanity of men and women. “Take advantage of the digital revolution and Tech4.0 and become what the UNWOMEN has called GenerationEquality. Yours should be the generation that becomes the transformers leading to Planet 50:50,” she said.

Muskaan is a pan-India initiative to promote skill development and popularize culture and heritage literature among the young children in India.

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