Leading experts, policy makers and renowned personalities have begun to gather in the Western Indian state for the “Difficult Dialogues” forum, an annual conference tackling the most vital issues facing South Asia. The third edition in the series will focus on “Gender Equality – For Everyones Benefit?” This year, the forum, beginning Friday, will be held in partnership with the University College London (UCL), Goa University (GU) and the International Centre Goa (ICG). Renowned professors of global health such as Professor Sarah Hawkes, who leads the UCL Centre for Global Health and Gender; Professor of Global Health David Osrin of UCL.
Professor of Child and Family Policy Margaret O’Brien of UCL; and Professor of Global Health and Philosophy Sridhar Venkatapuram of King’s College London will be amongst the speakers at the conference. UK politician and teacher Baroness Shreela Flather and actress Gabriella Wright will also be present. Through engaging panel discussions, the speakers will grapple with the crucial issue of how Indian gender constructs affect fundamental aspects of daily lives and citizenship. Attendees can expect to see top government officials discuss new policy directions with a number of leading minds from the professional world, academia, development experts, the media, grass-root workers and a host of celebrities with vivid experiences of the issues at hand.
Through their academic leads, they have contributed towards the programming of Difficult Dialogues 2018 and will help the forum to create policy papers aimed at influencing public policies and decision making. As a part of the programming, several interactive workshops would also be held to supplement the panel discussions. Socio-political filmmakers Prakash Jha and Ketan Mehta, actors Nandita Das, Manisha Koirala and Deepa Sahi, transgender rights activist Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, women’s rights activist Vrinda Grover, eminent politicians Arif M Khan and Salman Khurshid, and Maharashtra’s first woman IPS officer Meeran Chaddha Borwankar will all share their views at the event. NGOs such as Sneha from Mumbai, PLAN India, PHIA and the Consortium for Street Children are also organizing panel discussions at Difficult Dialogues.
Difficult Dialogues was founded by philanthropist Surina Narula, a veteran NGO founder – responsible, amongst other achievements, for establishing the internationally lauded Consortium for Street Children – to bring together leaders from across the spectrum of international society to and find equitable solutions to South Asia’s most pressing priorities. “My experience working with NGOs spanning 20 years has given me a deep understanding of the pressing need to work on policy change. ‘Difficult Dialogues’ is an endeavor to provide a common platform to bridge this gap between policy makers and civil society involved with implementation. Unless the last mile implementers are included in the conversation, policies will only reflect what mega rich businesses want and democracy will be diluted,” Narula said. The conference will reach its culmination on Sunday evening.