Hyderabad, Mar 30 (PTI) Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today said that empowering women would enable them lead a life of dignity,respect and make informed decisions, as he stressed on the need to build coalitions against gender discrimination.

With women constituting almost half of India’s population, their empowerment educationally, socially and politically is the fundamental requirement for the country to unleash the forces of growth and achieve rapid progress, he said.

“Unequal access to education, gainful employment and growth opportunities are widening the gender gap and atrocities on women and domestic abuse are unfortunately tarnishing our image as a nation,” according to an official release.

Stressing the need to build coalitions against gender discrimination, the Vice President said government and civil society must be active collaborators to achieve tangible results.

The Vice President said there is enough evidence to show that women during the early Vedic period were seen as equal to men in all walks of life, adding “Our cultural moorings have gender equality as a core principle”.

“While we have a long lineage of highly accomplished women, there has been unfortunately a parallel trend of gender discrimination.This has resulted in low literacy,low education and consequently, low representation in the workforce and politics,” he said at an event organised to mark the silver Jubilee Celebrations of the Mahila Dakshata Samiti here.

True gender equity can be achieved when women are empowered in all fields – educational, social, economic and political, he noted.

The Vice President said that over the years, he has been consistently arguing that women must get a fair share in all tiers of governance, from gram panchayat to Parliament.

“I have always been underscoring the need to improve the female literacy rate and ensure greater participation of women in the work force. At the same time, it should be ensured that women are not discriminated in the payment of wages,” he said.

The Vice-President said ending gender disparity, ensuring safety at work places, providing access to health care, imparting job skills and creating more job opportunities are all aimed at empowering women.

“Empowering women will enable them lead a life of dignity, respect and make informed decisions be it matters financial, social or even political”, he said.

To prevent discrimination and atrocities against women, concerted efforts are needed at all levels, Naidu said.

Gender equality must begin at home and girls must not be made to feel inferior to boys or ill-treated, he said, adding families play a big role in shaping the attitude of children and boys must be made to treat girls with respect.

The Vice President also expressed anguish over incidents of girls committing suicide and said they are unable to withstand pressure of studies and suggested all those working in the field of education counsel both girls and their parents.

The Governor of Goa, Mridula Sinha, Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mohammad Mahmood Ali and other dignitaries were present.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.