ENARADA, Bengaluru, October 5, 2015
Twenty six high profile women ambassadors from our country and neighboring countries were about to miss the sixth conference of South Asian Women’s Network (SWAN), courtesy Air India!
The ambassadors chosen from different parts of the world had boarded morning flight from New Delhi to Male via Bengaluru. The flight from New Delhi (AI-803) was a delayed starter and reached Bengaluru by afternoon. Soon, these women boarded the Male-bound Air India flight (AI 265) from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA) to participate at SWAN (scheduled for October 6 and 7) which brings together women leaders, academics, experts, activists and media representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Despite the boarding announcement, the Air India flight never took off. The passengers were forced to sit for around two hours inside the aircraft. For every query, the standard answer from the cabin crew was that the flight was waiting for clearance from the Air Traffic Control.
However, finally, when the agitated passengers wanted to know the real reason, it was announced that the flight will not take off on Monday due to a technical snag and the next flight would be only on October 6! This meant that the women ambassadors would never make it to the SWAN conference.
Their participation in SWAN was of high importance as they were to coordinate its activities through eight sectoral networks, also called SWANs, respectively dealing with the Environment; Arts and Literature; Women in Peacemaking; Health, Nutrition and Food Sovereignty; Education; Crafts and Textiles; Finance, Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship Development; and Women in Media.So, soon the members called up Air India chief managing director who responded positively and arranged for a special chartered flight that took off from KIA at 7.30 pm, according to Ms Nandita Sahai, director of Media Information and Communication Centre of India (MICCI).
The women ambassadors who were on the flight included; National Women’s Commission chairperson Ms Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Theatre artiste Ms Usha Ganguly, Activist Dr. Mira Shiva, Zakia from Afghanistan and others.
SWAN was established in March 2009 at the Conference on “Women of South Asia : Partners in Development” convened at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi.
SWAN emphasises the importance of gender empowerment as the key to sustainable economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability in South Asia. SWAN’s vision is to achieve sustainable development for South Asia through an integrated approach incorporating the centrality of women’s agency, voice, participation and leadership in all the three dimensions of sustainable development : socio-political, economic and environmental. SWAN’s strategy for achieving this is based on strengthening partnerships through an institutional network across South Asia, working together to agree upon policy recommendations for governments, (including resistance to policies that perpetuate inequality, inequity and injustice); on programs for leadership development (nurturing leadership among its members to implement and monitor sustainable development policies and programs); and on capacity building for change at all levels (enhancing capacity to implement programs that demonstrate and scale-up best practices for sustainable development).
Now, one wonders what would be the treatment to hapless commuters who had no influence and how they were forced to put off their visit for no mistake of theirs. Well, will Maharaja has any answer?