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A Salute to Empowerment!

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International Women’s Day

By LT GENERAL GURMIT SINGH (RETD)

International Women’s Day, celebrated globally on 8 March, is a poignant reminder of the progress made in gender equality and the work that still lies ahead. This year’s theme, “Invest in Women: Accelerate Growth”, resonates deeply in India, a country where women have played pivotal roles in every sphere of life. Uttarakhand, with its rich cultural heritage and stunning landscapes, stands out as a state of empowerment and progress, showcasing the incredible achievements of its women and girls.

In the journey towards a ‘Viksit Bharat’, investing in women is not just a choice but a necessity. Women form the backbone of society, contributing significantly to the economy and community development. In Uttarakhand, this is especially evident, with women taking charge in various sectors, from education to entrepreneurship, politics to environmental conservation.

One of my core missions, women empowerment and girl child welfare, has seen a substantial growth in the past two years. It is a matter of pride to see the commitment and dedication the women of Uttarakhand exhibit. The growth of women led self-help groups has proven that collective effort and empowerment can transform communities and drive sustainable development. Young girls pursuing degrees are excelling in their academics and co-curriculars, bringing laurels to their Universities and State.

One of the most inspiring aspects of Uttarakhand’s story is the way women have excelled in traditionally male-dominated fields. Take, for instance, the story of Padma Bhushan awardee Bachendri Pal, the first Indian woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Hailing from Uttarakhand, her indomitable spirit and determination have been a source of inspiration for women across the country.

Our Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, President Smt Droupadi Murmu, who is an epitome of courage, fortitude and selflessness,has given the girls of India a surge of hope, that those who dare to dream, can reach their goals, irrespective of where they come from. Tessy Thomas, known as the ‘Missile Woman of India’, made history by becoming the first woman scientist to head a missile project in India.

The field of science has seen a significant rise in women’s participation and leadership, with many women from Uttarakhand making their mark. From pioneering research in environmental science to ground breaking discoveries in healthcare, women scientists have been at the forefront of innovation and progress. Their contributions have not only advanced their respective fields but have also inspired a new generation of women to pursue careers in STEM.

In the field of education, women have been at the forefront, driving change and progress. The state boasts of numerous women who have not only excelled in academics but have also become agents of change in their communities. From setting up schools in remote villages to advocating for girls’ education, these women are breaking barriers and paving the way for a brighter future.

Uttarakhand’s women have also made significant strides in the political arena. From local governance bodies to the state legislature, women have been actively participating and leading with vision and integrity. Their presence has not only brought diversity to the political landscape but has also ensured that women’s voices are heard and represented.

Entrepreneurship is another area where women have shown remarkable prowess. From organic farming to handicrafts, women-led enterprises are flourishing, contributing to the state’s economy and showcasing its rich cultural heritage. These women are not just running businesses; they are driving innovation and sustainability, making a positive impact on society and the environment.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let us recognise and appreciate the invaluable contributions of women in Uttarakhand. Their achievements are not just a testament to their strength and resilience but also a reminder of the endless possibilities that exist, when women are empowered and given the opportunity to thrive.

Investing in women is not just a moral imperative but a strategic decision that will accelerate growth and development, making our ‘Viksit Bharat’ a reality. In this period of Amrit Kaal, Uttarakhand is at the forefront, with its daughters and women taking centre stage, in every sector.

I wish you all a very happy International Women’s Day 2024. Jai Hind.

(Lt General Gurmit Singh is Governor of Uttarakhand)