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The true measure of a country’s progress is not just its gross domestic product, but its human development index in which the empowerment of women is an important constituent, actress and activist Shabana Azmi said Monday.

Addressing a session at a seminar on ‘The New Indian Woman’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Azmi said that India had evolved since independence and so had the new Indian woman.

“The new Indian woman has arrived and she is here to stay. She has found a voice and is speaking out. She is asking for her place in the sun without fear and at all levels. This new Indian woman deserves more strength and needs to be supported,” she said.

“When this is done, the new Indian man will emerge and together the two will transform society. They will change notions of power so that power does not remain about oppressing the powerless but about sharing power and partnerships,” she said.

Othes who participated in the seminar included journalists Barkha Dutt and Nidhi Razdan, filmmakers Zoya Akhtar and Kiran Rao, actress Nandita Das and several others including writer and lyricist Javed Akhtar, MP from Odisha Jay Panda, filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt and chairman of Reliance Entertainment Amit Khanna.

Khanna, who is also the chairman of CII’s national committee on media and entertainment, said: “What saddens me is that after so many years of progressive thought and some affirmative action within the many Indias that coexist in our nation, there’s still a lot more to do.”

“Out of the extremely poor in the world, 70 percent are women. Over 50 percent of all women and 60 percent women in South Asia are illiterate,” he said.

“Hence to me, the greatest problem is gender bias which takes root at the beginning of gender identity formation. This bias is so deeply ingrained in our DNA that at superficial levels there might be symbolic changes, but a lot needs to be done on ground,” he added.



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