Kalpana Devi : Championing Gender Equality and Family Welfare

Kalpana Devi: A Global Advocate for Gender Equality

In the realm of tireless champions for gender equality and family welfare, one name shines brightly – Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah. Her journey, marked by passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment, has been a beacon of hope for Mauritius and a source of inspiration for the world.

Kalpana Devi – A Journey of Excellence

Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah’s journey towards her current role as the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare in Mauritius has been nothing short of extraordinary. Armed with a first-class degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Brighton, United Kingdom, she embarked on a career that would ultimately shape her into a formidable advocate for gender equality.

In 2005, she began her career as a Regulatory Advisor at the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust in the United Kingdom, setting the stage for her future endeavors. Her passion for making a difference led her to join the BG Group Plc in 2008, where she continued to excel and gain valuable insights into regulatory matters.

Upon her return to Mauritius, she embraced her role as a consultant and Regulatory Manager in various global institutions, gaining international experience and expertise that would prove invaluable in her future endeavors. Her dedication and expertise eventually led her to the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life in 2017, where she took on the role of Assistant Permanent Secretary.

Kalpana Devi: A Visionary Leader

In November 2019, Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah’s journey reached a pivotal moment when she was appointed as the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare in Mauritius. In this role, she became the torchbearer of the government’s commitment to fighting all forms of violence, particularly Gender-Based Violence (GBV), in alignment with Sustainable Development Goal 5.

Under her leadership, significant legislative milestones were achieved in 2022 with the enactment of the Children’s Act 2020, the Child Sex Offender Register Act 2020, and the Children’s Court Act 2020. These landmark legislations marked a giant leap forward in the protection of children’s rights and were in alignment with international conventions that Mauritius is a signatory to.

International Engagements

Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah’s impact extends beyond Mauritius. She actively participated in High-Level Summits such as the Commonwealth Ministers for Women’s Affairs and Gender and Development on COVID-19 in 2020, the 65th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and the Indo-Pacific Business Summit “Women’s Economic Empowerment: Inclusive Prosperity” in 2021.

Her involvement on the global stage reflects her dedication to promoting gender equality not just within Mauritius but worldwide.

Towards a Gender-Equal Future

In a press conference on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2020, Minister Koonjoo-Shah announced the formulation of a new National Gender Policy for the next decade. This policy would serve as a powerful tool for Ministries and other institutions to review and promote gender equality in line with the principles set forth in the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995.

Numerous initiatives have been undertaken in pursuit of gender equality, including the extension of Maternity Leave from 12 to 14 weeks, the introduction of a national minimum wage, and the provision of free tertiary education. These measures highlight the government’s unwavering commitment to empowering women and creating a more equitable society.

A Wellness Center for All

In a bid to promote physical and mental health, Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah inaugurated the Floreal Women Wellness Centre. She emphasized the importance of regular physical activity for public health and encouraged citizens to utilize sports infrastructure and facilities provided by the government.

Fighting Gender-Based Violence

The fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV) has been at the forefront of Minister Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah’s agenda. She highlighted the progress made in implementing the National Strategy and Action Plan on the Elimination of GBV, emphasizing the need for a collective effort involving government, NGOs, civil society, and a change in societal mindset.

Support systems for GBV victims, such as the Mobile App ‘Lespwar’ and the hotline 139, have been established, along with sensitization campaigns to ensure that victims know where to seek help and support.

A Vision for a Better Future

Hon. Mrs Kalpana Devi Koonjoo-Shah’s dedication to gender equality and family welfare has undoubtedly made a significant impact in Mauritius. Her visionary leadership, commitment to legislative changes, and tireless efforts to combat gender-based violence serve as an inspiration to us all.

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