Women faculty members of higher educational institutions in Tiruchi district involved in promoting gender equality joined hands with social workers to celebrate International Working Women’s Day organised by People’s Development Initiatives (PDI), a Tiruchi-based Non-Government Organisation working with slum-dwellers in the district, on Friday.

Gender volunteers and men promoting gender equality in about 60 Tiruchi slums in the purview of PDI were honoured with prizes for their performance on the occasion. To promote gender equality, the PDI had created Gender Governing Councils inducting men and women into such councils. Volunteers engaged in promoting gender sensitivity among slum population and questioning gender discriminatory practices in education, employment, safety, and violence, including domestic violence, were encouraged and appreciated with the awards, according to PDI Secretary and Director I.Ambalavanan.

About 400 women took part in a rally organised by the SHG Governing Council and PDI. It was flagged off by A.Puratchikodi, Asst Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Bharathidasan Institute of Technology, Tiruchi, and N.Manimekalai, Professor, Department of Women’s Studies, Bharathidasan University. The participants carried placards highlighting slogans on women’s rights, safety, and empowerment.

Addressing the participants, Prof.Purachikodi, informed them about the manifestations of gender discrimination in the society and the interconnections and linkages between religion and literature that get reinforced in the contemporary media including print and visual medium.

The caste system and its imposed customs force women to remain as secondary citizens, dependent and at the receiving end of all kinds of discrimination. Hence, women should come out of the customs and rituals that are deeply bound by religion.

Speakers were also critical of the gender bias in film songs and lyrics portraying women as objects, undermining their dignity. The speakers included Saraswathy, Head, Department of Management, MAM College of Engineering; G.Kanaga, Head, Department of Social Work, Cauvery College for Women; and Sathivani, treasurer, Gender Governing Council, PDI.