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Shining a Pink Light for Gender Equality in India

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UNESCO world heritage site, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, is “painted” pink for International Day of the Girl Child.

Left to right: Siddharth Kak,Kashmiri Indian documentary maker, The Canadian Consul General to Mumbai Jordan Reeves, Kiran Narain, Author of Kashmir, Sanjay Suri, Actor, Dr. Jyotsana Singh, Granddaughter of Maharaja Hari Singh of Jammu and Kashmir and Devika Bhojwani, Entrepreneur and Social Activist at a book launch. This event celebrated the importance of fathers in shaping opportunities for girls.

Millions worldwide marked the fourth-annual International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) on October 11th. Canada, who originally proposed the day at the United Nations, celebrated with its friends by supporting IDGC events around the world.

The Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai hosted a series of activities aimed at raising public awareness of key challenges faced by girls in India. This year’s Day of the Girl child was the Consulate’s largest celebration yet with an unprecedented number of partners and participants signalling a brighter future for the millions of Indian girls striving for change and success.

Female Workers in India: So Few Among So Many

The celebrations kicked off with the “Painting the City Pink” campaign organized by the Consulate General, where prominent Mumbai landmarks were recolored pink with coloured light bulbs. With millions passing by the illuminated buildings, a social media wave of pink snapshots fueled the excitement and discussion around IDGC.

A “Take your Daughters to Work Day” in partnership with Aditya Birla Financial Services addressed the lag in women’s participation in formal workplaces in India. The IMF estimates only one third of all able female workers in India are participating in formal employment. As males are 50% more likely to be employed, the gender gap between male and female participation in India is the highest among G-20 economies. The Take your Daughters to Work Day, which involved both employees daughters and pre-teens selected by a local NGO, the Candle project, aimed to inspire girls to by exposing them to careers possible through an education.

Accommodating Women in the Workplace

The discussions on “Women and the Workplace” continued through a panel discussion at one of India’s largest companies, JSW Group. Panel participants included the JSW foundation, the corporate social responsibility wing of the company and the Dasra Girls Alliance, an NGO initiative empowering mothers and adolescent girls. As childcare is still seen as primarily the responsibility of women in India and urban women tend not to have access to traditional joint-family childcare, one issue raised by female employees at the discussion was daycare.. Prior to the panel discussion, the JSW Group daycare facilities were exclusively available at factory sites and female employees at corporate sites did not have access to childcare.  As a result of the panel, JSW agreed to invest in establishing a daycare centre at its corporate headquarters.

“It is important that we make our world a little more welcoming for our girls. We need to invest in them and give them a voice, because they deserve better” said Smarinita Shetty, Director of Dasra Girls Alliance.

Today’s Gender Education Signals a Fair Future

A local school outreach effort was also led by the Consulate who distributed a guide to celebrate IDGC to over 200 local schools. Developed by Muktangan, an NGO specializing in child education, the guide contained activities for celebrating IDGC at school and encouraged girls to pursue their dream occupations.

Grade 3 students from Smt. Sulochanadevi Singhania School, Thane make posters on empowerment of girls. The Consulate had distributed International Day of the Girl Child Activity Kits to 200 local schools.

The Consulate invited Muktangan to select students from their local schools to come to the Consulate for a half day program on learning about Canada and employment opportunities. The program was designed for the students to explore career paths by interviewing employees and also learn Canadian culture through an informal lunch and interactive presentations.

The Consulate also teamed up  with Dr. Bhau Daji Lad Mumbai City museum, to show two films from National Film Board of Canada featuring leading girl protagonists: , Hannah’s Story (2007) and Molly in Springtime (2009).

Canada was proud to support Indian partners working to empower girls as equal members of society on the International Day of the Girl Child, and throughout the year.



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