Thursday, March 12, 2020

Tata Trusts’ The Force Beyond endorses behaviour and mindset change to ensure gender equal world

῀ Second edition witnessed thought-provoking discussions, between experts, opinion makers and women on ground ῀

Since gender inequality constitutes one of history’s most persistent and widespread forms of injustice, eliminating it will call for one of history’s biggest movements for change - United Nations 2020. Premised on this fact is this year’s ‘The Force Beyond’, a marquee Tata Trusts’ property, launched last year as a philanthropic effort to catalyse the momentum behind gender parity. 

The 2nd edition, pivoted on Sustainable Development Goal 5 – Gender Equality, in line with the Trusts’ commitment to seed parity across geographies and age groups, building systems of support to address diverse needs. Gender violence, representation in justice and inclusion, economic empowerment, parity pay, unravelling stereotypes are just some of the many areas that need change. The same United Nations report stated that the gender pay gap costed the global economy in the area of $160 trillion- a cause for concern and immediate corrective action. Through inspiring stories, compelling dialogues and debates, the Trusts hope to kindle a conversation that will bring us a step closer to a world that includes women’s full and effective participation.

The day’s proceedings began with the lighting of the ceremonial lamp. Eric Falt, Director & UNESCO Representative, New Delhi opened the day’s proceedings stating, “Education is definitely one of the greatest levellers of our times. Globally the development discourse has probably tended to focus more on lifting people out of poverty - SDG No.1, which is necessary, but the challenge of lifting people out of illiteracy is just as important and the rewards are as enduring. We must stand up together against all forms of discrimination on gender. Women and men must enjoy equal opportunities, choices, capabilities, power and knowledge as equal citizens. Equipping girls and boys, women and men with the knowledge, values, attitudes and skills to tackle gender equality will be essential to build a sustainable future for all of us.“

The debate on ‘This is the best time to be a woman’ saw interesting arguments from both sides to build the case ‘for’ and ‘against’ the motion. At the outset, the audience poll highlighted more members believing that it is the best time to be a woman. The consensus was that while women have journeyed a long way towards achieving equality, they are still far away from achieving the desired goals. Some of the points that echoed in the session were the need to eradicate patriarchy, poverty and have the policy will to achieve stated goals. The bottom line of the debate established that behaviour and mindset change is the need of the hour. Another audience poll at the end of the debate saw the audience changing their vote towards the belief that “THIS is not the best time to be a woman”.

‘Changing the gender paradigm in the Hinterland through economic empowerment’ was one of the panel discussions wherein the panelists spoke at length about how economic empowerment has given a voice to women as it enables them to become a decision maker. While acknowledging the importance education plays in empowering women, the panelists agreed that one could truly empower women only when there are sustained efforts towards changing the mindset and patriarchy levels of the society.  

‘Does the Indian Justice System do justice to Gender Equality’ witnessed the panelists agreeing that while there have been efforts to bring equal representation in the justice system, it is only when we bring about a change in the mindset of the society will we be able to achieve equal representation. Gender bias is strongly visible in this particular domain as the belief remains that this a male dominated profession. All the panelists stated the need of a basic infrastructure in place for women in the police and judiciary systems in addition to gender sensitization programmes on a large scale.

A special spotlight session introduced the stories of women beneficiaries like Nolakidevi and her husband Mohanlal (residents of a small village of Bali block in South Rajasthan) and champions of the Tata Trusts Menstrual Health Management (MHM) initiative. Nolakidevi spoke of how she overcame the stigma attached to menstruation through the awareness sessions undertaken by the Tata Trusts and the couple counselling sessions that both she and her husband attended, which led to her gaining the understanding and support of her husband. Now, both of them motivate the adolescent girls of their village to maintain hygiene and take care of themselves during their periods. Another set of inspiring stories came from Naval Tata Hockey Academy (NTHA) where Munmuni Das who hails from a small town Joriguri of district Tinsukia, Assam and Sandeep Kaur, who hails from village Miadi Kalan of district Amritsar, Punjab shared their stories of overcoming personal challenges and pursuing their dream of playing hockey at a professional level. 

Dignitaries like Eric Falt, Director & UNESCO Representative, New Delhi; Dr. Abhijit Das, Director, Centre for Health and Social JusticeDr. Jyotsna Jha, Director, Centre for Budget & Policy Studies; Nidhi Bansal, Senior Director, Program Operations-Quality & Learning, CARE; Maharshi Vaishnav, Chief of Staff Educate Girls; Anil Dharker, Journalist & Writer; Navonil Chatterjee, Joint President and Chief Strategy Officer, Rediffusion; Swati Bhattacharya, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Ulka; Anand Narasimhan, Anchor & Executive Editor, Network 18Dr. Ranjana Kumari, Director; Centre for Social Research & Chairperson of Women Power Connect, Anuradha Shankar, Additional Director General of Police, Madhya Pradesh; Justice (Retd.) B.N. Srikrishna, D. Sivanandan; Former DGP, Maharashtra; Renu Mishra, Executive Director, Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiatives (AALI); Amrita Patwardhan, Zonal Head - North, Tata Trusts; Shireen Vakil, Head - Policy & Advocacy, Tata Trusts, and Divyang Waghela, Head - Tata Water Mission, Tata Trusts actively participated in this 2nd edition of ‘The Force Beyond’.

The inaugural edition in 2019, highlighted the need to focus on women beneficiaries to drive home the fundamental reality that investing in women’s matters pays off with undeniable impact towards creating a more equal world.  Today’s discourse looked at galvanizing attention and highlighted the action points on key issues to create awareness around the imperative nature of equal participation of women in all aspects of life.

Tata Trusts has been a steadfast proponent of championing women be it through education, livelihood initiatives or the provision of world-class healthcare facilities. With the aim to foster equality for women at every life-stage, Tata Trusts’ The Force Beyond is yet another step towards a future where we are #EachForEqual.

About Tata Trusts
Since inception in 1892, Tata Trusts, India’s oldest philanthropic organization, has played a pioneering role in bringing about an enduring difference in the lives of the communities it serves. Guided by the principles and the vision of proactive philanthropy of the Founder, Jamsetji Tata, the Trusts’ purpose is to catalyse development in the areas of health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and hygiene, livelihood, digital transformation, migration and urban habitat, social justice and inclusion, environment and energy, skill development, sports, and arts and culture. The Trusts’ programmes, achieved through direct implementation, partnerships and grant making, are marked by innovations, relevant to the country. For more information, please visit

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