(TibetanReview.net, Feb12, 2017) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Feb 10 joined Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu to jointly inaugurate the ‘National Women’s Parliament-2017’, an initiative under the aegis of the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly which focused on empowering women in democratic participation. The Chief Guest was India’s Minister for Urban Development Mr M Venkaiah Naidu, with the venue being the state’s Vijayawada city.
Answering questions from the media on arrival in the city, the Dalai Lama expressed happiness to have returned to Andhra Pradesh, home to great Buddhist masters of the past, like Nagarjuna.
The Dalai Lama who spoke after the presentation of a short film that introduced him to the audience of 10,000 – including 401 women state legislators and 91 women national MPs – said during his speech, “We have to make a greater effort to promote kindness and compassion, qualities in which women are more naturally adept, so the leadership of women is necessary if we are to succeed.”
He said women should come forward and assert themselves in order to be able to play this role to benefit society. “Women should develop greater self-confidence. Don’t think of yourselves as meek. You already have the potential to develop compassion, but what you need in addition is steadfast determination.”
Earlier, after an introduction by the Speaker Dr Kodela Siva Prasada Rao of the state assembly, who was the ex officio chairman of the parliament, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu reiterated his aim of fully empowering women and introducing 33% reservation for many opportunities for women during his speech.
The chief guest took the floor next, calling women unsung heroes.
Following the Dalai Lama’s speech, the Convenor of the parliament, Mr Rahul Karad explained how he had brought the idea of a Parliament for Women to the chief minister who gave his support, with the stipulation that it should take place under the auspices of the State Assembly.
He was followed by Kiran Bedi, the Lt Governor of the Union Territory of Puducherry and the first woman Indian Police Service officer known for her roles as social activist and politician after her voluntary retirement from service in 2007. She declared that women were as good as the opportunities they got, whether in the family, village or wider community. “If they get the opportunity there’s nothing to stop women reaching for the top. Using opportunity to create opportunity is a way to create leadership. With courage women can be better parents, teachers and leaders.”
Ms Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the Parliament of Bangladesh, also spoke, as did the patron of the event, veteran Gandhian Smt Ela Ben Bhatt, and actress and the United Nations Population Fund goodwill ambassador Manisha Koirala.
Earlier, on his arrival in Vijayawada, the Dalai Lama was welcomed at the airport by the state assembly Speaker, joined by state Ministers Palle Raghunatha Reddy and D Umamaheshwara Rao as well as Vijayawada Police Commissioner Gautam Sawang.