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Kerala’s Gender Park to Open on Feb 11 with Start of Three-day ICGE-II

In Kerala
January 29, 2021

The Kerala government’s Gender Park in this city will become functional from next month, coinciding with the second edition of the International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE-II), state Health, Social Justice and Women and Child Development Minister K K Shailaja said today.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan will inaugurate the February 11-13 IGCE-II and the Gender Park. On the opening day, he will also lay the foundation of the International Women’s Trade and Research Centre (IWTRC) that envisages a secure and sustained ecosystem for women entrepreneurs and a space for them to market products.

The valedictory ceremony will be inaugurated by Kerala Finance Minister Dr T M Thomas Isaac. It will see the announcement of a policy draft based on the highlights of the entire sessions at ICGE-II.

The high-profile event will see the launch of a Gender Museum, Gender Library, Convention Centre and an Amphitheatre. These four facilities will form the first phase of the Gender Park that works towards gender equality in the state, Shailaja told a press conference here.

ICGE-II will explore measures to boost the economic potential of women and transgender persons so as to equip them as sustainable entrepreneurs. With ‘Gender in Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Social Business: The Mediating Role of Empowerment’ as the focal theme, the event at the Park’s sprawling campus is being organised in association with the UN Women which is part of the United Nations.

The Gender Museum will feature various social struggles that led to shifts in the status of women, their achievements and turning points, including those during the renaissance movement. The Gender Library envisages the creation of public awareness on gender and its role in development. The state-of-the-art Convention Centre will facilitate par-excellence events, with a capacity of more than 500 people. The Amphitheatre is set against a backdrop lush with greenery.

Such an endeavour is the first in not just the country, but perhaps the whole world, the Minister said about the Rs 300-crore Gender Park with three towers. The work for it is being carried out by Uralungal Labour Contract Cooperative Society, India’s oldest worker cooperative (founded in 1925). “Already we have allotted Rs 26 crore for the Gender Park, and earmarked another Rs 15 crore for the next financial year,” she revealed. “The government has also approved an administrative sanction of Rs 172 crore.”

ICGE-II, with 100 delegates besides 50 speakers, will hold nine plenary sessions and as many parallel sessions, in strict observance of the Covid-19 protocol. Taking part in them will be policymakers, academics, professionals and domain experts besides ministers and diplomats from 30 countries across the globe. Organisations and institutions the world over will witness the proceedings live.

The summit will discuss in depth the crucial linkages between entrepreneurship, economic growth and poverty alleviation, which are in tune with the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The conference will consider the context of Kerala in these areas so as to chart out an actionable roadmap to facilitate women and transgender persons in entrepreneurship and social businesses by recognizing the need for making process more gender-inclusive, especially amid the challenges posed by COVID-19.

The Minister said ICGE-II will function as a platform to anticipate the challenges in a post-pandemic world and share the present experiences of women across continents. “Women in Kerala have high education but no proportional representation in employment,” she noted. “That paradox adds to the relevance of the upcoming summit.”

Last month, the UN Women signed an agreement with the 2013-conceived Gender Park to develop it into a South Asia hub for gender-related activities. The December 21 MoU enables the Gender Park to build a Gender Data Centre. All the projects of the Gender Park will get cooperation from UN Women, the Minister said.

Today’s press meet was also addressed by legislators A Pradeep Kumar and Purushan Kadalundi, besides Gender Park CEO Dr P T M Sunish.

Dr Sunish said the IWTRC will have ten sections. These include a women’s-only startup incubation centre, the world’s first of its kind. The other wings will be a business facilitator, space for rent and retail trade, a conference centre, performing arts centre, space for sustainable development, essential skillsets, women’s health and welfare centre, and residential facilities for the parents and children of the women workers at the Gender Park.

The first edition of ICGE, held at Kovalam near Thiruvananthapuram in 2015, was themed on ‘Gender, Governance and Inclusion’. It saw the official release of Kerala State Policy for Transgenders.