Minister of State for External Affairs of India Mr Mobashar Jawed Akbar delivered a special address at the first Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) conference on women's economic empowerment in Vilnius, Lithuania.
India, the nation which began decolonialization, sees women's equality as a crucial part of its modernity, Mr. Akbar noted, giving an overview of the programmes his country is pursuing to advance women's empowerment.
"You cannot be an empowered nation without gender equality," he said, adding that legal and political rights mean little unless they are accompanied by women's ability to support themselves economically.
The first ASEM conference "Women’s Economic Empowerment: Creating Equal Opportunities in the World of Work" is organized by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Affairs and Labour and the Mykolas Romeris University.
Addressing the participants of the conference, Mr. Akbar noted it was telling that the event was hosted by Lithuania, a country where "45% of the population are women and women live on average 10 years longer than men".
"And why am I not surprised at this fact? Women are simply more sensible and they probably also drink less vodka," the Indian minister joked.
The conference was also greeted by its patron President Dalia Grybauskaitė of Lithuania, who gave a televised address, the country's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Social Security and Labour Linas Kukuraitis.