Diplomat-author Lakshmi Puri pitches for women power at LSR

Diplomat and author Lakshmi Puri returned to her alma mater, the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College for Women in New Delhi,  with a stirring address on women empowerment and her much-acclaimed novel, Swallowing the Sun.

In her keynote address at the LSR Model UN Conference 2024, Ms Puri delved into the crucial question of “Why women matter,” a topic close to her heart and exemplified by her pioneering efforts in advocating gender equality on a global scale.

The audience, comprising several young women brimming with ambition and zeal, appeared spellbound by her eloquent address, as she seamlessly intertwined her experiences, insights, and aspirations for women’s empowerment. Drawing from her extensive diplomatic career as former deputy executive director of UN Women and her personal journey, she emphasized the indispensable role of women in governance, particularly in tackling pressing global challenges such as environmental degradation and climate change.

“It’s not just about equality; it’s about the inherent strength and wisdom that women bring to the table,” she said. She highlighted the empirical evidence supporting the notion that women’s leadership enhances governance and stressed the importance of amplifying women’s voices in decision-making processes. “We call this potential the greater 50% because the women part of the 50% has yet not been tapped,” she added underscoring the women’s potential that is yet to be harnessed.

Her connection to the audience deepened as she shared insights from her debut novel, Swallowing the Sun, a poignant blend of fiction and reality that explores the myriad facets of womanhood through India’s freedom struggle. In a conversation with Manish Chand, Founder-CEO, India Writes Network and Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs, she advocated a bigger role for women in shaping the world we live in.

“Women aren’t just passive bystanders in history; they are the unsung heroes whose resilience and sacrifices have shaped our collective destiny,” she remarked, her eyes alight with passion. She emphasized the urgency of addressing violence against women, labeling it as the most egregious form of discrimination, and advocated for a comprehensive approach encompassing prevention, protection, and persecution of perpetrators.

The audience was captivated as Puri unveiled the autobiographical elements intertwined with her novel, revealing a deeply personal exploration of love, resilience, and the spirit of womanhood. Her book, she explained, serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of her parents and their unwavering commitment to justice and equality.

When asked by Mr Chand about idealism deficit in the young generation, she said: “Far from a deficit, we are witnessing a reignition – a rekindling of Bharatiya ethos and a rediscovery of our civilizational heritage.”  Mr Chand  lauded LSR as “a powerhouse of talent, creativity, and innovation” and exhorted young women to pursue their dreams and attain new heights in their chosen field.

As Lakshmi Puri bid farewell to her alma mater, she left behind a legacy of empowerment, reminding every young woman present of her inherent potential to shape a brighter, more equitable future. In a nostalgic trip down the memory lane, she expressed how LSR played a pivotal role in her life. “Every girl at that time in LSR saw herself as ‘Durga’ (divine feminine goddess in hindu culture). These strands of women empowerment took shape in LSR for me. There was a sense of individuality rooted in passionate belief in gender equality and strong nationalism.”

In her words and deeds, she embodied the spirit of resilience, compassion, and determination that defines the journey of women everywhere. The echoes of her address will linger in the hallowed halls of LSR College, inspiring young women to fully become who they are.

Author Profile

India Writes Network
India Writes Network
India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) is an emerging think tank and a media-publishing company focused on international affairs & the India Story. Centre for Global India Insights is the research arm of India Writes Network. To subscribe to India and the World, write to editor@indiawrites.org. A venture of TGII Media Private Limited, a leading media, publishing and consultancy company, IWN has carved a niche for balanced and exhaustive reporting and analysis of international affairs. Eminent personalities, politicians, diplomats, authors, strategy gurus and news-makers have contributed to India Writes Network, as also “India and the World,” a magazine focused on global affairs.