US President Barack Obama speaking to mostly youngsters at Siri Fort auditorium in Delhi said getting to see incredible Indian women in the Armed forces was one of his most favourite impressions of his visit to India. He lauded the role played by women in many walks of life in India including being Chief Ministers of states.
“One of the favourite things on this trip for me has been to see all these incredible Indian women in the Armed forces including the person who commanded the guard that greeted me when I arrived (at Rashtrapati Bhavan). It’s remarkable. It is a sign of great strength and progress,” he said amidst a thunderous applause from the crowd. His wife Michelle who had accompanied him also joined in the applause.
This year, in another first, it was decided to show case the fairer sex of India by giving them prominence during the entire 26th Jan parade and happenings. Thus the guard of honour that greeted President Obama at Rashtrapati Bhawan also had a woman officer leading it. During the parade too, many contingents were lead by Army women. In addition there was a batallion of only women marching too. It was quite a heartening sight and it did not fail to impress Obama and Michelle either prompting Obama to comment:
“In India, women have shown that they can succeed in every field including government where many of your leaders are women. The young women, like present here, are playing their part in India’s progress. We know from experience that nations are successful when their women are successful. When girls go to school. This is one of the most direct measures of whether a nation is going to develop perfectly…And how it treats its women.”
He urged men to treat all the women in their lives with respect and dignity.
“It is as husbands and fathers and brothers that we have to step up because every girl’s life matters and every daughter deserves the same chances as our sons and every woman should be able to go about her day, to walk the street and ride the bus and be safe and treated with respect and dignity she deserves,” he said.
He quoted the example of his own wife and daughters to underline this point.
“Now, you may have noticed I am married to a very strong and talented woman. Michelle is not afraid to speak her mind or tell me when I am wrong, which happens frequently. And we have two beautiful daughters. So, I am surrounded by smart strong women and in raising our girls we tried to instill in them basic values, the sense of compassion for others and respect for themselves and the confidence that they can go as far as their imaginations ” he said.
The US President said that as part of his wife’s duties as the First Lady she has “met with girls and women over the world including here in India to let them know that America believes in them too. And US is working to make sure that women and girls have all the opportunities they deserve.”
“When a girl goes to school, it doesn’t just open up her young mind but it benefits all of us because, maybe, someday she may start her own business or may be invent a new technology or cure disease. When women are able to work, families are healthier and communities are wealthier and entire country is more prosperous and when young women are educated their children are going to be well educated and have more opportunities.
“So, if nations really want to succeed in today’s global economy they can’t simply ignore talents of half their people,” he said.
He specifically talked about top Democrat in the House of Representative Nancy Pelosi when he was praising women power.
“We have some great role models like Nancy Pelosi. She was the first women Speaker of the House and my great partner. And, here in India, it is the wives and the mothers who sew up the whole families and communities together,” he said.