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Reshaping Narratives In Public Policy Through The Young Women Leaders Fellowship – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

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IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi conducted an Online Certificate course on Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship (YWLPPF) in the month of January 2024 under IMPRI Gender Impact Studies Centre.

The inaugural event for the YWLPPF was a thought-provoking and enlightening session that brought together key figures in academia, and public policy. The session, chaired by Professor Vibhuti Patel, featured an insightful address by Ms. Amarjeet Kaur, the General Secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress. The focus of the event was to provide a platform for young women to delve into the complexities of public policy, acknowledging the challenges faced by women, workers, and marginalized communities.

Opening remarks by Professor Vibhuti Patel

Professor Vibhuti Patel, an eminent academic and women’s rights advocate, set the tone for the event. Her opening remarks emphasized the critical role women play in shaping public policy and the need for diverse voices in policy-making. She highlighted the historical struggles faced by women in gaining access to decision-making spaces and celebrated the launch of a fellowship aimed at empowering the next generation of women leaders in public policy.

Insights from Ms. Amarjeet Kaur

Ms. Amarjeet Kaur, in her inaugural address, provided a comprehensive overview of the challenges that persist in India, touching upon gender inequality, labour rights, and religious biases. Her wealth of experience as the General Secretary of the All-India Trade Union Congress lent depth to her analysis, as she seamlessly connected the dots between policy decisions and their real-world impact on women and workers. She began by expressing her appreciation for the initiative, acknowledging the relevance of empowering young women in the realm of public policy. Ms. Kaur underscored the critical role of public policy in shaping the socio-economic fabric of a nation, emphasizing its direct impact on diverse sections of society.

One of the key focal points of Ms. Kaur’s address was the recognition of challenges within the existing public policy framework. She shed light on the biases present, particularly towards marginalized communities and the poor. She expressed concern over policies that seem to perpetuate stereotypes, particularly in the distribution of free food to the poor. Ms. Kaur questioned the sustainability of such practices, emphasizing the importance of not just providing free essentials but also ensuring access to education, healthcare, and livelihood opportunities for women.

Ms. Kaur passionately delved into the issues faced by the working class, shedding light on the changing dynamics between employers and workers. The call for proper wages, safety at the workplace, and social security resonated strongly. She criticized the attempt to increase working hours, emphasizing that it is an anti-labour, anti-development, and anti-poor approach. The challenges faced by the vast population of migrant workers, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, were highlighted, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive labor policies.

The agrarian crisis in India was a focal point of Ms. Kaur’s address. She stressed the significance of ensuring fair treatment for farmers and addressing the issues faced by the majority population dependent on agriculture. The talk emphasized the interconnectedness of policies affecting different segments of society, debunking the idea that policies can be formulated in isolation.

Ms. Kaur also brought attention to gender bias within the public policy discourse. She shared instances highlighting the challenges faced by women, especially within the judicial system. The narrative of a decorated police officer escaping consequences for misconduct due to his status raised questions about the systemic bias against women.

The speaker seamlessly transitioned into discussing the delicate issue of communal harmony. She warned against biases on religious grounds, emphasizing the potential threat it poses to the very fabric of the nation. Ms. Kaur underscored the importance of maintaining communal harmony for the well-being of society, particularly women who are often the worst affected in times of communal strife.

Shifting her focus to economic inequality, Ms. Kaur provided alarming statistics, revealing the stark contrast between the wealth distribution in India. The concentration of wealth among the top 1% juxtaposed with the meager share for the bottom 50% highlighted the urgency for policies addressing economic disparities.

The speaker lamented the removal of essential chapters from educational curricula, such as Darwin’s theory and the Industrial Revolution, emphasizing the detrimental impact on the understanding of societal development. She stressed the need for a synchronized approach where public policy aligns with educational content, fostering a scientific and inclusive mindset.

Women’s Call to Action and Conclusion

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Amarjeet Kaur issued a passionate call to action for the young women embarking on the fellowship. She encouraged them to critically engage with the subject matter, linking theoretical knowledge to ground realities. Ms. Kaur urged participants to question, analyze, and actively contribute to the ongoing discourse on public policy, emphasizing the interconnectedness of policymaking and societal well-being.

Closing Thoughts

The inaugural event of the YWLPPF proved to be a captivating exploration of the multifaceted challenges embedded in public policy. Prof. Vibhuti Patel’s introduction set the tone for a rigorous examination of the subject, while Ms. Amarjeet Kaur’s address brought forth real-world insights and experiences, grounding the fellowship in the complexities of the Indian socio-political landscape. 

Acknowledgement: This article was posted by Rehmat Arora, a research intern at IMPRI.

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IMPRI, a startup research think tank, is a platform for pro-active, independent, non-partisan and policy-based research. It contributes to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. IMPRI is committed to democracy, mobilization and community building.

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