Canadian Consul General in India, Annie Dube, believes that India’s proposed bill on women’s reservation in Parliament could be a “good start” for women empowerment, but not the only move towards it.
A staunch feminist, Dube, was here to attend Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit.
“I keep giving the example of my husband — he was born and raised in India. He works and is very successful at what he does, but doesn’t prevent me from having my own career. And I am a feminist. My husband looks after the children more than I do, and he is an Indian. Though I know that different economic classes have different needs,” Dube told The Sunday Express.
On the proposed Bill to reserve 33 per cent of seats for women in Parliament, Dube said, “It’s a good start…we have to start somewhere and when it becomes more natural then the mindsets start changing. Just educate your girls, education to girls will change the way India is growing. The 7 to 8 per cent growth is fantastic, but if we empower women it will grow only faster. But we cannot just rely on that (reservation),” she added.
Girls’ education, she said, would change the dynamics of the country. “If we can bring women to the point where they are equal as men and get same level of opportunity, then India is unstoppable; and that is fascinating,” she added.
“I want to inspire the change, but I cannot tell India what to do”, she said, emphasising how Canada a country of 35 million people is half the size of Gujarat.
On the ongoing intolerance debate in India, she cited the example of her own country. “There may be differences between people in Canada — they may be neighbours and friends, but when they come to a place where tensions are more highlighted, then they will just get into this part — the relationship will not be the same. Put them in Canada they will become friends, they will study together, their kids will play together, it is a different approach. I don’t think we have the perfect recipe, but we make sure we work at it everyday. It’s very important that we all are in this together, regardless of our differences from where,” she said, adding, “Differences, at the end of the day, could be a sign of strength for India, we just need to bring them all together so that we can all contribute to India.”
Dube who is a 12th generation of French immigrants to Canada, said that her country “is stronger because of its differences and not inspite of it”.
Dube said that Canadians want to see the relationship between the two countries grow and it wants more Indian immigrants to enrich its diversity and “integrate in the Canadian landscape”.
“We want to make sure that the relationship is succeeding, and we want India to succeed as a powerful democracy,” she added.
Canada is among the 15 partner countries at the Vibrant Gujarat Summit this year and has a considerable presence in the state with firms like McCain Foods, Bombardier and auto component major Magna International, having set up their plants here.
More recently, Canada has invested 20 billion dollars in pension funds in India, said Dube.