Economic advancement and better education are key to ensuring gender equality in India, said social activist Surina Narula. Narula, founder and CEO of Difficult Dialogues, said India is ahead of its South Asian neighbours when it comes to gender awareness and gender equality. However, overtime the country has also reported "terrible acts" of violence and gross inequality on the basis of gender, she said. Difficult Dialogues is a forum for examining issues of contemporary relevance in South Asia. Although gender norms are now going through transformations, inequality still persists and that is what Difficult Dialogues aims to address, Narula said. "The idea (behind setting up the forum) is to discuss and come up with recommendations for what it takes to achieve a higher level of gender equality in our society," she told PTI. Narula said economic advancement and better education are the key things that will help further the cause of gender equality in India. The forum is holding a three-day conference next month to discuss vital issues facing South Asia. The meet, to be held in Goa from February 9 to 11, will focus on the question 'Gender Equality For Everyones Benefit?' The conference would examine wide-ranging topics under the overarching theme of gender and come up with white papers directed at making a tangible difference, she said. This year, Professor Sarah Hawkes, who leads the University College London (UCL) Centre for Global Health and Gender, and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram of the King's College London will be amongst the speakers at the meet. Narula said deliberations at the meet will help the forum create policy papers aimed at influencing policies and decision-making. Filmmakers Prakash Jha and Ketan Mehta, actors Nandita Das, Manisha Koirala and Deepa Sahi, transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, women's rights activist Vrinda Grover, politicians Arif M Khan and Salman Khurshid, and IPS officer Meeran Chadha Borwankar will share their views at the event. The Goa event is the third in the series of conferences on key issues organised by the forum. The first conference was on "Global Finance and Civil Society", while the second one focused on health issues, said Narula. "This year we have approached Brookings India to help us disseminate the conference papers because they have a working relationship with the bodies that discuss and form policy within the government," she said.
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