BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha in the UK and Europe observed the UN’s International Women’s Day with an inspiring conference in 24 centres around the region. Titled ‘Celebrating Women: Reflect, Progress, Shine’, the conference celebrated the achievements of women and aimed to empower them with new skills, values and motivation.
International Women’s Day (IWD), which falls annually on 8 March, was ratified by the United Nations in 1977 as a way to honour the significant contributions of women throughout the course of history.
BAPS's observance formed many of the thousands of events held throughout the world to celebrate women, and marked the tenth anniversary of the celebrations organised by BAPS in the UK.
The conference centred on three key themes. The first, ‘Reflect’, focussed on the progress of women individually and collectively, and reflected on the personal strengths and achievements of women observed over the past 10 years. The second theme, ‘Progress’, explored ways in which women can enhance various skills and advance towards new goals. The third theme, ‘Shine’, set a forward-looking vision for women to achieve their full potential. “The underlying message,” explained Rena Amin, a lead volunteer for BAPS in the UK, “is that every woman has the ability to be a light, not just for themselves but for those around them.”
These themes were artfully conveyed through a series of video presentations, cultural performances, panel discussions, and addresses by esteemed guests who shared their inspiring testimonies and experiences.
Many of the events also included an exhibition of elaborate silk scrolls designed and crafted by female members of BAPS in partnership with Kinetika, an internationally renowned arts organisation. The scrolls depict the achievements and values of powerful women in the community. They were produced with the support of Arts Council England from handmade Indian silk using special batik techniques.
BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha’s celebration of IWD represents its on-going commitment to women and matters of importance to women, as inspired and guided by BAPS’s spiritual leader, His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.