BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) in the UK and Europe observed the UN’s International Women’s Day on Sunday 7 March 2021 with an inspiring online programme titled ‘Rising to the Challenge’. The celebration marks BAPS’s on-going commitment to women and matters of importance to women, as inspired and guided by His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.

The webcast celebrated the positive ways in which women have progressed and risen to challenges, especially during the last twelve months. The programme highlighted the versatility of all women in the way in which they have tackled and adapted to these challenging circumstances arising from personal and family lives as well as the influences of work and social media.

The inspiring, interactive and entertaining afternoon revolved around four key segments – ‘rethink your perceptions’, ‘seek out adventure’, ‘stand up against abuse’ and ‘embrace social media responsibly’, exploring how women are collectively overcoming these challenges that they face today.

These salient themes were presented through a variety of mediums, including an animation video, an online debate and uplifting testimonies of women who have overcome adversity and achieved remarkable success in various facets of their lives.

The event included a special interactive experience in which a contestant answered questions to advance along a ‘challenge ladder’, guided by the support of the audience who were fully immersed in the uplifting and enriching experience.

The Women’s Forum of BAPS collaborated with Enfield Saheli to signpost affected members of the community and seek help in a timely yet culturally sensitive manner. Enfield Saheli was set up by Asian women to provide services and activities to support and empower women in the London Borough of Enfield, without distinction of ethnic, cultural, religious or political differences.

Krishna Pujara, Chief Executive of Saheli, welcomed this initiative with BAPS of providing support to the most needy and vulnerable women and families affected by domestic violence.

Shilpa Patel from Leicester shared her experiences after the event: “The programme was truly remarkable and addressed important issues for women. After hearing the accounts of women who have faced and overcome their challenges, I feel energised and confident in my journey to rise above my own challenges. I was also really pleased to see the awareness of domestic violence – one of the hidden tragedies of the lockdown – and I am sure many women will benefit from the practical guidance and support that was provided.”

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