Amrita University Gets India’s First-Ever UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment
October 2016, France
On October 30, the United Nations officially established India’s first-ever UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Chair on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment at our own Amrita University. Amrita University’s Chancellor, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (or “Amma”), officially approved the UNESCO Chair during her annual program in Paris, before an audience of 8,000.
Guests at the event included Ruchira Kamboj (India’s Ambassador and permanent representative to UNESCO), Dr. Peter Wells (UNESCO Chief of Higher Education Section), and Gopinathan Achamkulangare (Inspector of the Joint Inspection Unit). Amrita University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr. P Venkat Rangan, handed the signed agreement to Dr. Wells on behalf of the university.
“There is no greater force for development, resilience and peace in the world than girls’ education.” Dr. Wells declared. “Universities such as Amrita have a guiding and strategic role to play in this quest. This UNESCO chair will be at the crossroads of research and action, with the ambition to develop toolkits focusing on vital areas, from skills to health to climate change, on mobile technology applications, and better mapping of vulnerabilities. This is a fundamental bridge gap between research, policy and practice. Amrita University and UNESCO share the same humanist agenda, and we look forward to a collaboration which advances the most important frontier for human rights, peace and progress.”
Vice Chancellor Rangan added, “It is a first for India that a chair devoted to Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment is being established. Even in the most advanced countries, there are very few such dedicated initiatives. This reflects the high priority that Amma has given to this critical area in her social and humanitarian works. In the coming four years, we will identify vulnerabilities of women and girls in India and ways of addressing them—a gigantic task, unprecedented in its scope. The focus will be vulnerability mapping as a result of security, education, and skill-development, social and cultural environment, climate change, disaster risks, and health and sanitation.”
Under the new UNESCO chair, Amrita University will assess the vulnerabilities of women and girls in multiple areas of life. Through research, training and an exchange of best practices, the university will pursue replicable problem-solving techniques that can be adopted worldwide.
Launched in 1992, the UNESCO Chairs Program comprises a global network of more than 700 universities, across 128 countries. It promotes international inter-university cooperation and networking to enhance institutional capacities through knowledge-sharing and collaborative work. Through this global network, higher education and research institutions across the globe pool their human and material resources to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of their own communities.