Women’s Rights Expert Feted

Gupta says education is key to female empowerment, draws on own experiences

Unnamed photo
Leah Pillsbury

Geeta Rao Gupta speaks at the Anne Roe Lecture and Award Presentation about her book “Unlocking the Power of Women: Is Education the Key?” at the Graduate School of Education yesterday.

A leading U.N. authority on women’s rights received the Anne Roe Award from the Graduate School of Education (GSE) last night.

President of the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW) Geeta Rao Gupta won the award, which is given to an individual who has contributed significantly to women’s professional growth.

ICRW is a non-profit organization that focuses on women in developing and transition countries.

GSE Dean Kathleen McCartney presented the biennial prize to Gupta in front of a crowd of around 100.

Gupta also discussed her work in a lecture entitled, “Unlocking the Power of Women: Is Education the Key?”, drawing on her own life as a case study for her research. “Everything I have ever achieved is due to my genes and to my upbringing,” she said.

Women who complete primary and secondary school are more likely to educate their children, said Gupta, whose mother and grandmother both completed college.

“Eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education,” one of the U.N. Millenium Goals with which Gupta is involved, has been cited by the U.N. as central to improving the lives of women and children.

In addition to education, Gupta said access to economic resources, freedom to choose family size through reproductive rights, and “a supportive social and cultural context” were integral to female empowerment.

“Education is necessary, even essential, but not sufficient,” Gupta said. “It is only one key to empowering women.”

Gupta serves as an adviser to the UNAIDS Global Coalition on Women and AIDS and co-chairs the U.N. Millennium Project’s Task Force on promoting gender equality and empowering women.