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As gender discussions increasingly take the centre stage around India and the globe, Kerala is inviting thinkers, scholars, field experts, professionals and policymakers from around the world to a common platform to help narrow gender gaps and advance women's empowerment.
The state will host the first international conference on Gender Equality (ICGE - I) from November 12-14 this year, marking the country's first such large-scale exercise in creating a space to share knowledge and global experiences in reducing gender inequalities.
The Gender Park, an institution under the Kerala Government's Department of Social Justice which has already made a notable social impact with the successful women-run 'She Taxi' initiative, is organising the conference with the support of UN Women.
'Gender, Governance and Inclusion' is the core theme of the conference that will discuss issues ranging from citizenship, globalisation, work, governance, health and education to masculinities, disability and the role of media.
"For our state, this exercise takes on added significance because we hope to be able to draw attention to the successes and weaknesses of the Kerala model of development," said Minister for Social Justice M K Muneer.
"We have made great strides in terms of social indicators; Kerala women are highly educated and healthy, but I do believe we need to do more to give them greater access to resources and empower them socially, politically and economically," he added.
Muneer said an understanding of the best practices worldwide for achieving gender equality, and the forging of strategic partnerships at the local, national and global level, through the conference, will strengthen the efforts towards women's empowerment.
Gender Park CEO Dr. PT M Sunish said the conference will build on the success of initiatives such as the 'She Taxi', which is being adopted by other states as a powerful model for women's entrepreneurship and a means to ensuring their social and financial security.
"What we have realised with She Taxi is that there are very practical, viable solutions for addressing gender issues out there, waiting to be explored.
The conference, we expect, will generate a pool of ideas that can be built on and implemented successfully," he said.
There will be paper presentations, plenary sessions and panel discussions on various themes. A poster exhibition will be on display throughout the conference.
ICGE-I will bring out a high-quality publication capturing the knowledge and lessons in this area and formulate a 2015 ICGE statement on the way forward for Kerala and India to act on, promote and sustain gender equality.