India can lead the world in achieving gender equality: UN

India has the potential to lead the world in creating just and equitable societies, the head of UN’s women empowerment body has emphasised and said men and boys can play an important role in achieving gender equality.

“We need India in the leadership in changing status of women. For me it is very important that India leads in the kinds of changes that you want to see see 20 years after Beijing and in the post 2015 agenda,” UN Women’s Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said on Saturday.

Mlambo-Ngcuka, who is on her first official visit to India, is expected to advance gender equality agenda in the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration.

She talked about the leadership displayed by “strong thought leaders in India” to formulate the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, a blueprint for advancing women’s rights 20 years ago.

Referring to the December 2012 horrific gang rape of a 23-year old in Delhi, She said, “Using the tragedies that you have seen, you need to mobilise more people, mobilise men, mobilise young people on the side of fighting for gender equality in collaboration with the government. I want to confirm that you can also count on us.”

“Here in India there are many challenges but also there is a lot of creativity. It is a country where you can make a difference. And also there are good partnerships that you can form with the government”.

Talking about the low ranking that India received in World Economic Forum’s 2014 Gender Gap Index, released last month Mlambo-Ngcuka said that “it should not be a source of discouragement.”

The report ranked India 114 out of 142 countries in removing gender-based disparities in the field of education, health and equal pay for equal work.

Stating that the indicator is a cumulative of “doing many different things” in areas of the economy, in education and in politics among others She said, “We have to touch all the areas and if all goes together it strengthens the indicators.”

“I don’t think the low ranking should be a source of discouragement, the important thing is that India is trying. The report must put pressure but it must never discourage,” Mlambo-Ngcuka told.