From honouring women achievers in various spheres, to renewed demand for reservation for them in legislatures, the International Women's Day on Friday saw a celebration of myriad roles played by females in the society and calls for more steps to ensure their empowerment.
In his message, Prime Minister Narendra Modi lauded the "indomitable Nari Shakti" and said every Indian is proud of the stupendous accomplishments of women in various spheres.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi hailed the "undaunted fighting spirit" of women and promised passage of the Women's Reservation Bill, in limbo for the last nine years since being cleared by Rajya Sabha, if his party is voted to power. The Bill provides for 33 per cent reservation for women in Parliament and state assemblies.
"You must fight for your space and don't consider yourself lesser than a man... be it the Assembly, Lok Sabha or the business field," Gandhi said while interacting with women in Jeypore, Odisha.
Across the country, milestones, big and small, were in limelight. Madan Mahal railway station in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, turned 'pink', with all its operations being managed only by women staffers while a 190-year old heritage library in Kerala capital Thiruvanathapuram came out with a unique gift for women- an exclusive reading group to promote reading among women members, especially homemakers.
The Railways honoured Pushpa Sing, a 'Keyman' at Shyamchak station of South Eastern Railway's Kharagpur division, for "exemplary devotion to duty and for doing a job considered to belong to the male bastion". A mother of two and sole bread-earner for the family, 39-year-old Pushpa joined as 'Trackman' or track maintainer in 2006.
President Ram Nath Kovind presented the Nari Shakti awards to 41 individuals and three institutions. Among the awardees were acid attack survivor turned activist Pragya Prasun, first woman marine pilot of India Reshma Nilofer Naha and only woman commando trainer in India Seema Rao.
A hearing-impaired international badminton player, India's first female stunt rider and firefighter, and crew members of Air India were awarded by the Delhi Commission in the national capital.
"Women are no less than men. They can do anything the men can do, be it bike stunts, flying or sailing. The awards celebrate the strength and compassion of Indian women who have overcome severe obstacles to make a mark for themselves," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said at the award function.
The DCW also felicitated a 55-year-old woman e-rickshaw driver and a doctor who busted a prenatal sex determination racket, among others.
Describing women as the "backbone" of society, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took pride in her Trinamool Congress having 35 per cent women MPs in the 16th Lok Sabha even though the the Women's Reservation Bill is yet to be passed in Parliament.
"We have also reserved 50 per cent seats in local bodies for women candidates," she tweeted.
According to UN Women, the theme for International Women's Day this year is 'think equal, build smart, innovate for change'.
The prime minister noted that numerous decisions have been taken by the government to further women empowerment.
BJP chief Amit Shah said the Modi government has "changed approach from women development to women-led development, which has made them integral to our development journey".
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the National Democratic Alliance government has set a very high benchmark in terms of policies for women.
"Right from ensuring women safety to their empowerment, the government has ensured gender equality and equal opportunities for them," the Union minister said.
However, Congress leader Selja Kumari alleged the government has only paid lip-service to the issues concerning women in the last five years, with no progress being made on Women's Reservation Bill.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)