A clarion call for gender equality -- VSSC/IISU marks Women's Day on digital platforms

Dr S Geetha, Somanath, Mariam Mammen Mathew, Sarada Jayakrishnan
Dr S Geetha, Somanath, Mariam Mammen Mathew, Sarada Jayakrishnan
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International Women’s Day 2020 was celebrated by the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre/ISRO Inertial Systems Unit (VSSC/IISU) on digital platforms on Friday. 

Competitions were conducted online and digital media were used to display talents and publicise personal attainments.

A formal valedictory function was aired on YouTube. Click here to view the video

In her welcome speech, Dr. S Geetha, Programme Director, Space Transportation System (STS) and Chairperson, IWD 2020, highlighted this year’s theme “An equal world is an enabled world”.

The theme provides a unified direction to guide and galvanize collective action aimed at establishing gender equality in all spheres of lives, Dr Geetha remarked. 

Dr S Geetha
Dr S Geetha

At the Indian Space Research Organisation, this day is dedicated to a vibrant women workforce in honour of the exemplary contributions made by them, she observed. 

She narrated the mythology of Ardhanarishwar as a celebration of gender equality. The Ardhanarishwar is a composite form of the Hindu deities Shiva and Parvati exalted as the root and womb of all creation.

S Somanath
S Somanath, VSSC Director

Awareness is the key: VSSC Director 

S Somanath, VSSC Director, who presided over the function, stressed the need for spreading awareness about gender equality and urged his women colleagues to maintain a collaborative group to support each other.

“We salute the women who marched for their rights and thus paved way for women's day celebrations across the globe. Action can only be taken in a society where there is awareness about issues of disparity,” he pointed out.

Fittingly, this year, a woman is at the helm of International Astronautical Federation, a first in its history. 

Dr Pascale Ehrenfreund, an Austrian astrophysicist based in Germany, is the new President of the Paris-based organisation, he said.

This year a few women also won the Nobel prize, Somanath noted. 

The  Director also urged to spread awareness on gender disparity. 

"What are we supposed to do during Women's Day celebration? First, to create awareness. We must identify instances of differentiation and taking a stand against disparity. To ignore this is to widen the gap. We must stand up and take action - at workplace, home,” Somanath said.

Acknowledging women's contributions is also the need of the times, he continued. 

"To applaud the gains that women have achieved we need to give them special appreciation. To become women leaders in a system that would rather not have them is remarkable," the VSSC director said.

Sarada Jayakrishnan
Sarada Jayakrishnan

'Respect leads to equality'

In her Women’s day special address, Sarada Jayakrishnan, the special guest at the function, highlighted the need for respect and integrity to maintain equality at the workplace.

“Change has to happen with every individual at the most basic level – respect,” Sarada said. 

"Respect for others is highly valued in Indian culture. We are asked to respect elders and  guests. Guests are gods. But respect is not something that is reserved for someone -- it must be engrained in our day-to-day lives. 

“Companies have become more cognizant of the changes that are happening across the world.  This is reflected in their policies and culture,” she pointed out.

“Times are changing. I am hopeful of our younger generation. They understand respect in a more broader sense. In your house, when you respect your wife, you empower her. When you respect your daughter, you show your son she is an equal in the house. At work, when you respect the ideas of your female workers, you empower them.

The more we are empowered, the more positive change we can bring,” she said stressing on the need for awareness about gender equality.

Sarada is the DGM of Terumo Penpol, a leading blood bag manufacturer. She is also the Chairperson of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Kerala.

Mariam Mammen Mathew
Mariam Mammen Mathew

'Girls should not shy away from science and research' 

Mariam Mammen Mathew, CEO Manorama Online, who was the chief guest at the function, rued the negligible number of women in the field of science and technology. 

"Women comprise only 15 per cent of the workforce in research and development compared to the global average of 30 per cent," she pointed out. 

She challenged the VSSC/IISU women community to disrupt the social notion and inspire girls to embrace science and technology.

The VSSC/IISU Women's Fellowship will enable girls to dream big in the field of science and technology, she hoped.

"Although there are many women who have made unique contributions to the world of science, many of them are still behind the scenes. The stories of women who became the driving force behind the country's scientific achievements should inspire future generations, Mariam said.

Dr. Sam Dayal Dev, Director IISU, Sri Roy M Cherian, AD VSSC, Dr. Sarath Chandra Sharma, AD (R&D) VSSC, Dr. Biju Jacob, Chief controller VSSC, and Dr. Radhika Ramachandran, Director SPL, and Rani Radhakrishnan, Convenor, IWD-2020, were among those who participated.

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