"One woman can make a difference. But one empowered woman can change the world."
This powerful quote that guided Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai to create sustainable change in Africa provided the same inspiration to well over 1500 women across North America. The BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha organized its first National Women's Conference with the theme "Investing in Women & Girls" as part of the United Nations International Women's Day celebrations held across the globe. Celebrating this day reflects BAPS’s commitment of resources – social, cultural, educational, and spiritual – in the development of women & girls and is an investment toward ensuring a better future for all.
BAPS Women’s Conference 2008 was planned and implemented by the Mahila wing of North America at Washington D.C, Los Angeles, Parsipanny NJ, San Jose, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta and Houston between May and September, 08.
BAPS understands that investing social, cultural, educational and spiritual resources in the development of women and girls can contribute to securing peace and social progress in a community as a whole. Hence, the conference has been an important first step towards helping to instill a greater sense of confidence and awareness in future generations of Asian American women.
Dr. Karen Mock, Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Education of Ontario, said, “Investing in women is an investment that always gives dividends.” She emphatically endorsed BAPS’ initiatives of investing in women and has extended an invitation to BAPS to partner in the future for inter-faith education and dialogue. Mary Johnson, Assistant Principal, San Marino High School, who was one of the speakers at the conference in Los Angeles explained what it means to invest in women and girls by saying “We have to encourage the future generation to be independent and encourage girls to explore their talents similar to boys.”
Dr. Andrea Yao, MD of the Bay Area motivated the audience to make simple changes in diet and exercise to reverse the impact of diabetes. "You can be different from your grandmother by living longer," she told the audience. "You hold the power to live, so live well."
Ms. Susan Estevez, wife of Milpitas Mayor Jose Estevez, who attended the event in San Jose, found the program "very informative and fantastic, with excellent speakers." She recognized BAPS for its efforts in driving transformational change in its community, and encouraged BAPS to continue developing conferences like these to increase awareness and to celebrate women's accomplishments in society.
The BAPS Women’s Conference 2008 brought together women of different backgrounds to discuss the need to invest in the future of girls. By sharing their different views and opinions, every woman was inspired in some way to make a positive investment for ensuring peaceful progress in the future of women and society as a whole.