Over 1,300 women of all ages and diverse backgrounds came together at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London – popularly known as ‘Neasden Temple’ – to celebrate the UN’s International Women’s Day (IWD) on Saturday 9 March 2024.
The day began with welcoming the WOW Girls Festival Bus of The Women of the World (WOW) Foundation. The Foundation had chosen Neasden Temple to be a part of the Bus’s last leg of its UK-wide tour. The WOW Foundation, with the esteemed patronage of Her Majesty Queen Camilla as president, champions gender equality and celebrates the achievements of women and girls globally.
In the evening, an inspiring programme titled “Celebrating Women: Uplifting Communities” focussed on how everyone can be an advocate for harmony and draw inspiration from women past and present.
The programme delved into the challenges faced by individuals and communities amid the pandemic and ongoing cost-of-living crisis. It specifically underscored the significance of cultivating a positive mindset and emphasised the transformative power of small acts of kindness in fostering unity and positively impacting society.
Throughout the two-hour programme, these inspiring themes were thoughtfully explored through uplifting video presentations, inspiring testimonies, and an insightful panel discussion. The panellists included Colette Bailey (Executive Director, The WOW Foundation), Heena Solanki (Founder and Managing Director of ‘Events Guru’), Shushma Patel (Community Pharmacist and ‘Coronation Champion’ Awardee for Volunteering), Marian Cohen (Co-founder of ‘Homeless in Action Barnet’ and Head of Education Youth at Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue), and Vanita Patel (Acting Head of Diversity & Inclusion at British Transport Police and Chair of BTP Hindu Police Association), who shared their personal experiences, offering a well-rounded perspective on the significance of positivity, kindness, and community impact.
Addressing the gathering, guest speaker Ravi Kaur Mahey, Solicitor-Advocate and Director in Family Law at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, an eminent British law firm, said, “Everything we know in life is learned. The only way to be inclusive and create space to help our communities is to unlearn [negative paradigms]. Don’t underestimate the importance of faith in communities in female empowerment. Use your values and take them into the community. As a collective, we [women] can empower and engage.
“The fact that you have opened up this platform to celebrate International Women’s Day at the Mandir [Neasden Temple] is so important. Empowering our future generations is key.”
Rena Amin, a senior volunteer at BAPS UK & Europe, added, “His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj regularly reminds us that we should always be striving to selflessly serve others for the greater good of the world and teaches us that unity in diversity is our greatest strength. Together, we can build bridges and foster understanding, enabling us to pave the way for making a meaningful difference and uplifting our communities. In celebration of International Women’s Day this year, we hope this programme empowered women to take that small step and positively impact the society we live in.”


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