Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday asserted that India cannot make progress unless women are given equal opportunities in all spheres, including the political arena.

He also said that there is a need to show in action and in deeds that gender discrimination no longer exists in the Indian society.

In a Facebook post, he once again urged all political parties to arrive at a consensus on the long-pending proposal for providing adequate reservation to women in Parliament and state legislatures at the earliest.

The Women Reservation Bill, which sought to provide reservation for women in Lok Sabha and state legislatures, was passed by Rajya Sabha. But it lapsed following the dissolution of the 15th Lok Sabha in 2014.

“With women constituting about 50 per cent of India’s population, we cannot make progress unless they are given equal opportunities in all spheres, including the political arena,” he said.

The vice president noted that India’s culture has always accorded respect to women and treated them as equals.

“In Vedic times, there were learned women like Maitreyi, Gargi, Ghosha and Vishwatara, who enjoyed equal status to that of men and used to participate in debates. Respecting women, recognising their talent and contribution has been an Indian way of life,” he said.

There is also a long history of unparalleled accomplishments of many outstanding women like Prabhavati, the daughter of Chandra Gupta II, who performed administrative duties in her kingdom and Razia Sultana, the only woman monarch to rule Delhi, he said.

“We have a long list of women achievers, who broke the glass ceiling and brought laurels to the nation. Unfortunately, over the centuries, there has been a gradual erosion of the core values of our culture and abhorrent practices like preference to son over a girl child have crept into the social fabric leading to inhuman criminal acts of female foeticide and female infanticide,” Naidu lamented.

There should be zero tolerance towards any kind of discrimination or violence against girls and women, he stressed.

“Undoubtedly, the flagship scheme ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ has created a positive impact. But much more needs to be done to change the societal mindset. There should be a national movement on women’s empowerment and to ensure that no girl child is out of school,” he said.

“It is high time we give girls and women their due in society and leave no stone unturned to empower them,” he said.