New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS): President Pranab Mukherkjee Monday said here that gender disparity can be tackled only through economic empowerment of women and improving their role in governance.
"Gender disparity in our country can be covered only through pro-active intervention in areas such as economic empowerment of women, building adequate social and physical infrastructure and improving women's role in governance," Mukherjee said.
Speaking at the presentation of the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2011 to Ela Ramesh Bhatt of Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Mukherjee emphasised that empowerment of women is the key for gender equality and to elicit full participation from citizens in nation-building.
"If women are under-represented in our economy, it is not only injudicious but also detrimental to social progress," he said.
The president also shared statistics and said the overall sex ratio remains "disappointing" and the literacy rate of women was "lagging behind".
"Women comprise 48.5 percent of our population. Though the overall sex ratio has increased during 2001 and 2011, the ratio of 940 females per 1,000 males in 2011 is a disappointing figure and reflects the distance that remains in achieving true equality," Mukherjee said.
"The literacy rate amongst women has increased from 53.7 per cent in 2001 to 65.5 per cent in 2011. However, female literacy still lags behind male literacy by 16.7 percent," he noted.
"Poor women are often incapacitated to act individually. Social mobilisation for their economic redemption is a critical necessity. To lend true meaning to empowerment, we have to expand their freedom of choice," Mukherjee added.
Giving the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for 2011 to Ela Bhatt, Mukherjee said: "Self-help groups have been found to be one of the most effective tools for the empowerment of women in developing countries."
The prize is awarded annually to a person or group in recognition of their creative efforts towards enlarging the scope of freedom and enriching the human spirit.