Experts and activists at the inaugural session of the three-day first International Conference on Gender Equality (ICGE), which began at nearby Kovalam, aired their concerns on the status of women, issues relating to transgenders and other sexual minorities in the country.

Hundreds of scholars and policymakers from the country and around 40 from overseas are participating in the conference, organised by the Kerala government's Department of Social Justice in association with UN Women, dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women.

Inaugurating the conference, that will discuss, debate and frame out policies for gender equality and development, Kerala Governor Justice (Rtd) P Sathasivam said empowerment of women has become a global concern as no nation can progress ignoring its women who constitute almost 50 percent of the population.

Aparna Mehrotra, Senior Advisor at UN Women, said women around the world should celebrate their victories when they are amidst struggles. "We have to acknowledge the solidarity of inclusion and equality," she added.

"While Kerala had the highest literacy rate, here is lowest level of participation of women," she said. In her address, dancer activist Mallika Sarabhai said India was the second most dangerous country for women and girls in the world.

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