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Lalita Panicker

Lalita Panicker leads the opinion section at Hindustan Times. Over a 33-year career, she has specialised in gender issues, reproductive health, child rights, politics and social engineering.

Articles by Lalita Panicker

In Kashmir, a story of women empowerment

Nighat Shafi Pandit, chairperson of HELP, has doggedly worked in the state for years, providing help to women who have suffered in the conflict.

Nighat Shafi Pandit of the HELP Foundation. (Photo credit:
Published on Apr 29, 2023 08:48 PM IST

India’s welcome focus on women-led development

After the conclusion of India’s G20 presidency, women-led development must find a permanent place as a priority

Women across G20 countries must be assured of sustainable livelihoods. (HT Photo)
Published on Apr 16, 2023 11:52 AM IST

Within the natal family, the real threat of violence

Normally, the natal family is the one a woman turns to for help, but during the pandemic, staying at home did not always mean staying safe for many women.

Shakti Shalini recently brought out an incisive report, UnKahi- the Unspoken, documenting the rise of violence against women from natal families during the pandemic. (HT Photo)
Published on Apr 01, 2023 05:34 PM IST

Ukraine war: Mitigating the heavy toll on women

According to Olena Kochemyrovska, a gender-based violence technical adviser with the UNFPA, women suffered severe psychological problems due to abuse and the absence of their husbands.

As of December 13, 2022, the office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine reported 154 documented incidents of sexual violence allegedly by perpetrators from the Russian armed forces. (Reuters)
Published on Mar 18, 2023 07:17 PM IST

Engaging young people to create safe, inclusive cities

Young people are critical for shaping the future of our cities. Yet, their voices remain underrepresented in decision-making. This must change

The lives of young people, especially women, in cities are restricted by sociocultural norms as well as poor infrastructure and services. (Puneet Chandhok/Representative Image)
Published on Mar 04, 2023 07:00 PM IST

A refocused MGNREGS can benefit rural women

When enforced properly, MGNREGS has the potential to shift the power dynamics of gender, an outcome which could be a game-changer in rural areas.

efforts must be made to ensure that those left on the margins, mainly women, are encouraged to make the best use of MGNREGS. (Reuters)
Published on Feb 18, 2023 05:44 PM IST

Apply a gendered lens to disaster management

Serious thought must also be given to imparting skills to women on how best they can deal with disasters to minimise trauma and risk.

Neither women nor the specific problems faced by them feature in our one-size-fits-all policies. (ANI)
Updated on Feb 06, 2023 10:57 AM IST

Place gender at centre of climate policies in India

The level of engagement with gendered vulnerability and adaptive capacity is uneven. This must change

Only 16 out of 28 state-level actions plans on climate change mention gender. (AFP)
Published on Jan 21, 2023 07:40 PM IST

Family support, a critical pillar for women workers

A study conducted in rural Bihar by the Centre for Catalyzing Change (C3) looked into family support for work and domestic labour among elected women representatives. Here's what it found

The reliance on male family members for work is not surprising, given the stark gender inequalities in literacy, education, mobility, and access to digital technology that disadvantages women in Bihar. (Shutterstock)
Updated on Jan 09, 2023 04:31 PM IST

Lalita Panicker picks her favourite read of 2022

In a question and answer session at the University of Rochester, author Amitav Ghosh quoted from his book, The Nutmeg’s Curse, “To look facts in the face is to recognise that it is a grave error to imagine that the world is not preparing for the disrupted world of the future

The ground beneath our feet. (HT Team)
Published on Dec 30, 2022 04:33 PM IST

Afghan women need international support

The brave women of Afghanistan and civil society groups need greater support from the international community. The hope that Afghan women can fight the good fight seems a mirage now, given how they have been oppressed and pushed to the sidelines.

Afghan women chant slogans in protest against the closure of universities to women by the Taliban, Kabul, Afghanistan, December 22, 2022 (REUTERS)
Updated on Dec 24, 2022 09:24 PM IST

In urban planning, why women must participate

In many metros, girls and women seldom use public spaces for leisure and recreation and their lives are spent in confined spaces.

Sexual harassment is a ubiquitous problem in cities across the world (Cities Alliance, 2020), with sexual harassment having been reported both inside transport vehicles and while waiting for transport. (Representative Image)
Published on Dec 10, 2022 07:42 PM IST

Let them play. Break down gender myths on the field

Despite the rise of women sportspersons, it is still a male-dominated field. A majority of families still don’t consider sport as a career for a girl, but things are changing

Studies show that girls who participate in sport are more likely to experience academic success and have more faith in their own competencies and abilities. (HT Photo)
Published on Nov 27, 2022 07:39 PM IST

Factors that perpetuate malnutrition in women

Micronutrient malnutrition can have multiple causes, among them, gender disparity, which is exacerbated by social, economic and political factors.

Cultural factors include gender norms that result in low intake of nutritious food by women.
Updated on Nov 12, 2022 07:49 PM IST

Focus on women’s mental health, now

Depressive disorders are the leading cause of disability worldwide. Women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

Just a dismal 0.08% of the health budget in India goes to mental health; very few organisations work in this sector and those that do are largely centred in urban areas. (Bloomberg)
Published on Oct 29, 2022 08:11 PM IST

Why India needs a fresh look at juvenile justice

It is important to understand the circumstances in which children are driven to commit crimes rather than focus on whether one or the other juvenile should be tried as an adult.

It must be kept in mind that a child committing a crime could well lack formal education, have poor cognitive abilities and emotional functioning and lack the resources to move ahead after serving time. (Representative Image)
Published on Oct 15, 2022 08:05 PM IST

Why a gendered response to fighting TB is essential

The government has set up schemes to help TB patients, but not enough states focus on women’s vulnerabilities. This is why women must be part of the fight to eliminate it.

Much like the pandemic, for TB, women must come to the fore to create awareness and tackle misconceptions about the disease. (Unsplash)
Published on Oct 01, 2022 03:27 PM IST

Mainstream the role of gender in climate policy

A formal mainstreaming of gender in climate policy and diplomacy would give greater legitimacy to India’s efforts in an arena in which it can demonstrate that it is both an innovator and a responsible global power in the South Asia

On the policy level, gender has slowly been integrated into various climate frameworks, but this has not meant representation of women at the levels required, especially at the grassroots. (Reuters)
Published on Sep 17, 2022 08:06 PM IST

Recalling a formidable woman’s battle for justice

While Bhanwari Devi's story is inspiring, it is disheartening that her example shows that women’s fight for justice often never seems to end.

Bhanwari’s case triggered the landmark 1997 Supreme Court Vishakha judgment, which was on the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace. (HT Photo)
Published on Sep 03, 2022 07:14 PM IST

Engaging business to advance gender equity

Gender bonds should resonate with investors since they reflect their commitment to pushing gender equality forward. The bonds can be used to get new sources of financing, which can tackle gender discrimination at multiple levels

“Empowering women is pivotal to accelerate economic growth. By bringing together large corporations under BSAC, we aim at positively impacting women, their families, and their communities on their terms...I am confident of further expanding a diversified representation by the private sector in the council to promote women’s economic empowerment.” (HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 20, 2022 08:57 PM IST

The link between women’s health and clean energy

The key lies in improving women’s access and agency when it comes to clean fuel as a way of preserving their health

Much more needs to be done to shift attitudes in households and remove barriers in accessing and using clean fuels in households. (Shutterstock)
Published on Aug 06, 2022 05:55 PM IST

On peace and security, the powerful voices of women

Women in South Asia have been engaged in peacebuilding before the WPS agenda was formalised. But the disconnect between the norms and reality is stark

On International Women’s Day, United Nations (UN) secretary-general Antonio Guterres referred to the fact that “gender inequality is essentially a question of power, in a male-dominated world and a male-dominated culture. Power relations must be reversed.” (SHUTTERSTOCK)
Updated on Jul 23, 2022 07:46 PM IST

Saluting our indefatigable warriors — ASHA workers

ASHAs were unique to India and even as honouring them was imperative, their experience and potential needed to be harnessed.

In the battle against the pandemic, ASHAs won accolades, but little is known about the community resistance they faced and the stress of combining family responsibilities with work. (HT Photo)
Published on Jul 09, 2022 08:57 PM IST

Mobility as a key driver of greater women’s freedom

Inclusive access to mobility must consider a rights-based issue, rather than a protection-based one, so that women can become more independent. 

Any woman who has travelled in a bus will attest to the fact that seats reserved for women are often occupied by men who refuse to vacate them. (Reuters/Representative Image)
Published on Jun 25, 2022 09:01 PM IST

Women at the helm of climate adaptation efforts

The CSE, through investigations in the tribal belts of West Bengal and Odisha, has come up with information on how women form the core of rural communities and lead the struggle for climate adaptation

The women can play a leading role in the village community. They will gain an alternative skill and livelihood, while contributing to India’s climate goals. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Jun 11, 2022 08:29 PM IST

Sanitation: A women-led, game-changing, initiative

NGO Shelter Associates, which has been working with the urban poor in Maharashtra to provide basic services, has came up with the concept of One Home One Toilet

Using technology and Google Earth for poverty mapping, the NGO worked with urban local bodies to provide 25,000 home toilets across slums in seven cities of Maharashtra. (HT/Representative Image)
Published on May 28, 2022 08:48 PM IST

Indian foreign policy needs a structured gender lens

India may not announce a formal gender inclusive foreign policy soon but given our increasing visibility on the global stage, we can certainly make a difference to the conversation. 

The report suggests that India has made considerable progress in terms of applying a gender lens to foreign policymaking and also increased representation--but more structure is needed. (Twitter)
Published on May 14, 2022 06:15 PM IST

Changing gender attitudes in India one family at a time

Interventions such as the Sphoorthi project can create an enabling environment for families to understand the importance of educating girls and gender equity.

To ensure the sustainable transfer of learnings and attitudes from the role models and peer girls, Sphoorthi established groups and collectives of girls at the village, cluster and taluk levels to help them sustain the change process. (Deepak Sansta/Hindustan Times)
Updated on Apr 30, 2022 05:35 PM IST

Afspa repeal in parts of Northeast: Women will breathe easy

For the women of the Northeast, this is the first step to a normal life. They should be given all the support and succour denied to them for decades to make the most of their potential.

The conflict in the Northeast led to severe repercussions on the lives of youth and women in the form of lack of employment, absence of institutional support and absence of regular classes. (HT Photo)
Published on Apr 16, 2022 07:49 PM IST

Ukraine: The devastating effect of war on women

They are often termed collateral damage though they are the hardest hit in terms of mass displacement, sexual violence, and exploitation.

Activists protest the Russia-Ukraine war on the East Front of the US Capitol, Washington. (AP)
Published on Apr 02, 2022 06:45 PM IST
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