Dignitaries from all walks of life arrived at New Delhi's Taj Palace Hotel to attend L'Oreal Paris' Women of Worth Conclave in association with NDTV on International Women's Day, March 8. NDTV's Prannoy Roy began the seminar by highlighting issues like gender discrimination and inequality in his speech. "The reason why women are lagging behind is because men are afraid. It is time that men listen to women," said Dr Roy.
"Women of Worth Conclave is the pre-cursor to the Women of Worth Awards on March 28 in Mumbai," L'Oreal India's Managing Director Jean-Christophe Letellier said.
NDTV's Vikram Chandra started the first of the four sessions, whose topic was 'We, The Unequal'.
"Very few women in Parliament; it is considered that women are the weaker sex as they may need to take leaves like maternity leaves. These issues need to be taken care of for women to come forward," said politician Priya Dutt.
"Women don't push their cause as hard as guys do," said Max Financial Services Chairman Naina Lal Kidwai.
Former Cricket Team Captain Anjum Chopra said: "Just the word sports is synonymous with male bastion. A women's team needs to do a lot more than men's team to prove themselves."
L'Oreal India's Marketing Vice President Manashi Guha said: "Women need to share more with women. They need to encourage more of their kind."
"There is no such thing as inequality. We live in individual silos. Sometimes activism around gender is the biggest hurdle in the way of gender neutrality," said author and columnist Suhel Seth.
"India has one of the lowest rate of female participation in the labour force. This adversely impacts economic growth," said Harshavardhan Neotia, President FICCI & Chairman, Ambuja Neotia Group.
Preeti Malhotra, Partner, E-Vehicles & Executive Director of the Smart Group during the second panel discussion said: "Women are judged all the time and they have to work harder to prove themselves. Only 11% of the women who join workforce reach leadership position, according to a study."
Artist Anjolie Ela Menon said: "For women it was always easy to get into the art market, but for the wrong reasons. It was seen to be good for the marriage market. And earlier many women would drop out of the art scene once they got married, but now things are changing and today women artists are doing some very good work."
"Capable women are not allowed to get ahead," said Dr Syeda S Hameed, Former Member of the Planning Commission. She added, "We tried hard at Women's Commission but it is politically opposed, because there is a feeling that she will rock the boat."
Jayant Krishna, CEO, National Skill Development Corporation pointed out: "Women are doing very well in sectors like IT, Telecom, Hospitality and so on. There are many women at the entry level. But when you study the funnel, women seem to drop off when it comes to higher positions."
Vineet Nayar, Founder, Sampark Foundation & Former CEO, HCL Technologies said: "We need to inspire women and create an enabling environment."
National Conference Leader Farooq Abdullah said: "If you want to achieve, there's nothing that can stop you. Have faith in God and yourself."
"Don't be afraid but be aware. The world is not a simple place where you can go without fear. Do what your heart tells you to do, be confident and listen to yourself," said Justice Leila Seth.
Arati Devi, Sarpanch, Dhunkapada, Odisha & Former Banker said: "In my opinion, there is no difference between boys and girls. I implement the same in my panchayat. Be a part of the change, don't wait for others."
"I don't think education alone can empower, but I do want to emphasise on the significance of it. 200 million women are illiterate, 3.7 million girls are out of school," said Nidhi Dubey, Country Director, Girl Rising.
Photographer Raghu Rai said: "My son thinks this dad doesn't love me or belong to me because he loves daughters."
Mukul Rohatgi, Attorney General of India said: "This mindset that man is superior is because he has more brute strength. This has gone on for many centuries."
"You only look at your mother as sati savitri, rest of the women you look at with a different set of eyes," said actress Shabana Azmi. She added: "If women ask for freedom, we are seen as trying to objectify ourselves."
Kalpana Vishwanath, Co-founder Safetipin said: "There is a difference between 'looking' and 'staring'. Women know that. Our campaign says that staring is not acceptable."
"Gaze has a direct link with sexual autonomy. To change society, women have to come forward," said Vrinda Grover, Lawyer, Researcher, Human Rights & Women's Rights Activist.
Social scientist Shiv Visvanathan said: "Gaze is reflective. It is a mirror. The way we consume gazes is also a violence. Consumption reinforces the act of staring and that is what makes it frightening."
"Our female counterparts have had to work harder than us to reach Parliament. Politics is still a male dominated field," said politician Kalikesh Narayan Singh Deo.