New Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for gender equity and decried violence against women as the government said it has initiated one-stop crisis centres that will provide assistance to women who face violence in any form.
In his statement on International Women's Day, Mukherjee termed equality, liberty and dignity as women's "sacred rights".
He asked the people to reaffirm their commitment to ensure gender equity and empowerment of womenfolk in India.
The president also presented the 'Stree Shakti Puraskar' and 'Nari Shakti Puraskar' for the year 2014 at a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan here.
In a separate statement, Modi said: "Our heads hang in shame when we hear of instances of crime against women."
Modi said his government has initiated several steps to help women who face violence and abuse.
The prime minister said he "salutes the indomitable courage and stellar achievements of women. We must walk shoulder-to-shoulder to end all forms of discrimination or injustice against women".
He said the central government is setting up 'One-Stop Centres' that will provide assistance, legal advice and psychological counselling to women who face violence or abuse.
Elaborating on the same, union Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi said the centres would in the first phase come up one in each state.
"If they are successful, then we will go in for more such centres," she said.
The minister said the centres would be separate from police stations and hospitals and would also have facilities where women can stay for sometime if needed.
Gandhi also said she has asked the finance minister to restore some part of the allocations for important schemes slashed in the union budget this year.
In other events, over 30 organisations and NGOs came together to "assert women's freedom" and asked the prime minister to take action against those threatening the rights of women.
The event, titled "Aath (8) March, Saath (together) March", included street plays and interactions to empower the women residents of the national capital and to inform them of their rights. It was organised at Jantar Mantar.
Bollywood stars like Amitabh Bachchan, Karan Johar and Sonakshi Sinha and Shabana Azmi also came together and urged the society to treat women as equals throughout the year and not just assign them one day of the year.
Veteran actress-social activist Shabana Azmi said rather than treating women like goddesses, the society should treat them as equals.
Bachchan tweeted: 'Woman's Day' .. ?? A single day dedicated to women? But a woman dedicates every day of her life!!!"
In Gurgaon, the administration gifted 'Women only' cabs to women.
The initiative is part of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed on the occasion of International Women's Day on Sunday by Deputy Commissioner T.L. Satyaprakash with private firms to ensure safety and security of women in this Haryana city bordering Delhi.
One MoU was signed for introducing 'women only' cabs and another for launching a mobile safety app.