Kapilvastu, March 7 On the eve of International Women’s Day, President Bidhya Devi Bhandari today inaugurated the President’s Women Empowerment Programme in Taulihawa of Kapilvastu district. The programme, launched by the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare, will target 30 districts, including Kapilvastu, and aims to empower women by providing them, among other things, life skill training and engaging them in income-generating activities. President Bhandari said the country still has a long way to go before achieving equal status for men and women and called on all to help bridge the gender gap. “Any society or country that does not give due respect to women cannot prosper,” she asserted, expressing hope that the programme will be a step forward in the government’s attempt to empower women. Also speaking at the event, Minister of Women, Children, and Social Welfare Kumar Khadka said violence against women has been the bane of the country. He said they could contribute to reducing violence against women by ensuring women’s participation in income-generating activities, which is what the programme envisions. As part of the programme launch, cultural dances and dramas were performed. A total of 40 stalls were set up to showcase hand-made products produced by members of women’s cooperatives from 22 districts, and a booth was established by Women and Children Office and the United Nations Population Fund to provide information about violence against women, child marriage, and other related topics. The programme aims at generating employment for around 20,000 women in five years.