Favourable legislation and policies alone will not do…we need the mindset to change at homes, Tamil Nadu Information Minister tells college students. A host of social issues such as dowry deaths, domestic violence, unplanned pregnancies, which take a toll on womens health, and an undesirable gender gap continued to exist in society, said Ms. Poongothai Aladi Aruna.

Favourable legislation and policies alone will not do…we need the mindset to change at homes, she told students at an international conference on Transcending the feminine mystique perspectives, organised at the Anna Adarsh College for Women here on Wednesday.

Tracing the position of women in society down the ages and the contribution of different feminist movements, she said that in some countries, the position of women had improved considerably in regard to right to education, marriage and contraception. On the role of the modern women, she said the empowered and educated women often had to work twice as hard as their male counterparts to manage their homes and careers.

Pro-Vice Chancellor of the Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi, Latha Pillai, said there was a fairly large gap between legislation in favour of improving the position of women and the actionable points. Emphasising the need to reflect on such issues, she urged the college to look at matters such as curriculum and see if it was gender-friendly.

She told the students to look at the role models at home like their own mothers and grandmothers who would often contribute significantly to the social and economic development of the family, irrespective of their educational background.

Vice-Chancellor of the Tamil Nadu Open University A. Kalyani said todays women were making a mark in several professions.

Part of human rights

Joint Editor of The Hindu Nirmala Lakshman said that a vast majority of women in the country continued to be underprivileged and invisible. Womens rights need not be enshrined separately, they are very much part of human rights, she said. It was important to assess the advancement of women by firmly placing womens issues within the framework of the rights discourse, and also looking at it with the human capabilities approach.

The inaugural marked the beginning of a three-day conference, featuring talks and paper presentations from eminent persons representing different fields, including the media, arts, entertainment, hospitality, politics, administration and the academia.