In the backdrop of nationwide outrage over Delhi gang-rape case, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday asked party men to bring gender issues to “the heart of our political activity” saying the “very disturbing trends” against women and children should wake up the party.

She described atrocities on women as a blot on conscience and a matter of shame, and stressed that gender issues should not just confined to Mahila Congress or women organisations only.

“I must say with the greatest anguish and pain that discrimination against the girl child continues. Atrocities on women, both in urban and rural India, are a blot on our collective conscience and a matter of great shame,” she said in her opening remarks at the party’s Chintan Shivir in Jaipur.

“The way we still treat widows, the prevalence of female foeticide even in economically prosperous regions, the trafficking of children and women, brazen sexual harassment -- these are all very disturbing trends that should shake and awaken us,” she said.

Ms. Gandhi said, “The entire party must understand them and bring them to the heart of our political activity and change mindset.”

The UPA chairperson highlighted that the government has taken the agenda of women empowerment ahead and launched several programmes.

Recalling a Mahila Shashaktikaran Adhiveshan held a decade ago in Delhi by her party, she said Congress had prepared a specific agenda for action in the Adhiveshan which was taken forward by the UPA government.

“New programmes have been launched. New laws have been enacted. The women’s self-help group movement has received a huge impetus and there are now over 12 lakh elected women representatives in institutions of local-self government,” she added.

In the two-day Chinthan Shivir, which will be followed by AICC meeting on Sunday, the issue of women empowerment will be discussed by a group led by MP and former National Commission for Women Chairperson Girija Vyas.

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