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Goa to host 3-day conference on gender equality from Feb 9

| | Panjim | in Sunday Pioneer

Goa will see an assembly of leading experts, policy makers, and prominent international personalities brainstorming at a three-day conference on gender equality. Starting February 9. The conference will be the part of the third edition of the ‘Difficult Dialogues’ forum, an annual conference tackling the most vital issues facing South Asia.

This year, the forum will be held in partnership with University College London (UCL), Goa University (GU) and the International Centre Goa (ICG). Renowned professors of global health such as Professor Sarah Hawkes, who leads the UCL Centre for Global Health and Gender, David Osrin, professor of Global Health at  UCL, Margaret O'Brien , professor of Child and Family Policy of UCL, and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram of King's College London will be amongst the speakers at the conference.

UK politician and teacher Baroness Shreela Flather and actress Gabriella Wright will also be present.

In the backdrop of heart-rending tales of violence that emerge from various parts of the country against women on regular basis,  the speakers will grapple with the causes and solution to the painful situation that has brought much infamy to the country on international platform.

Top Government officials are  expected explore new policy directions with a number of leading minds from the professional world, academia, development experts, the media, grass-root workers and a host of celebrities.

 As a part of the programming, several interactive workshops would also be held to supplement the panel discussions. Socio-political 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, eminent politicians Arif M Khan and Salman Khurshid, and Maharashtra's first woman IPS officer Meeran Chaddha Borwankar will all share their views at the event.

NGOs such as Sneha from Mumbai, PLAN India, PHIA and the Consortium for Street Children are also organizing panel discussions at Difficult Dialogues.

Difficult Dialogues was founded by philanthropist Surina Narula, who also set up the  internationally known  Consortium for Street Children with the aim to bring together social leaders  from across the world to meet and find equitable solutions to South Asia's most pressing priorities.

, "My two decades of experience of working with NGOs  has given me a deep understanding of the pressing need to work on policy change. 'Difficult Dialogues' is an endeavor to provide a common platform to bridge this gap between policy makers and civil society involved with implementation. Unless the last mile implementers are included in the conversation, policies will only reflect what mega rich businesses want and democracy will be diluted," Surina says.

Professor Sarah Hawkes (UCL Institute for Global Health) said: "Our interest in gender and equality at UCL goes back over 150 years - the university was founded on a basis of equality of opportunity and was the first in England to teach men and women together in the same classroom, and the first to award degrees to women on an equal basis with men."

." Filmmaker Nandita Das will be on a panel discussing the '#MeToo' movement to raise awareness about sexual assault and harassment which led to an overwhelming response on social media. She says, "The #metoo movement has created more than catharsis for women.  At the Difficult Dialogues, I look forward to digging deeper into the issues of violence and silence. Together we hope to raise many unanswered questions… why it took so long, from here to where and why this deafening silence in India?"

Actor Gabriella Wright painbs an e1ually distressing picture about problems  women face in Hollywood. " The levels of gender related consequences differ in the Hollywood. Sadly, enough all of the women I have met in the industry have had to deal with all levels of harassment, whether it's emotional, mental, and physical pressure and harassment," she said.

Leading the gender debate from Goa will be NGO founders like Arun Pandey of Anyay Rahit Zindagi or Arz (which means Life Sans Injustice) working towards improved health of sex workers; lawyer and human rights activist Albertina Almeida who co-founded several initiatives including Bailancho Saad; and broadcast journalism teacher at Chowgule College Monika Kshatriya.





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