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BAPS celebrates International Women’s Day

May 2011
BAPS celebrates International Women’s Day The BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir hosted its fourth annual Women’s Conference on Saturday, March 19, 2011 in celebration of the 100-year anniversary of International Women’s Day. Over 550 women from across the Southeast attended this event, which was one of 20 Women’s Conferences hosted by BAPS in North America.

“BAPS has made a long-term commitment to promoting and empowering women,” said conference organizer Archna Patel. “This is but one opportunity for our local Lilburn community to participate in a global initiative that celebrates our achievements.”

This year’s theme, “Honoring the Past, Envisioning the Future,” allowed for a positive and rich collection of dialogues, performances and exchanges. Three keynote speakers highlighted the role of women in India’s history and cultural heritage, the impact of the practices and principles of Hinduism in the life of women, and the opportunities and challenges that face the Indian female diaspora today.

“Today, women are making remarkable strides across all professional spectrums,” said speaker Sheetal Desai, a practicing attorney and partner at a law firm in the Atlanta area. “Despite many challenges, we have continued to excel in our many roles as women.”

Speaker Reshma Patel, a mechanical engineer and IT professional, addressed the challenges she faces in teaching her two sons to be proud of both their American and Hindu identities. “We have to be comfortable and confident in our Hindu identity so our younger generations also feel the same way,” she said. “We should be confident enough to be able to participate in religious and cultural dialogue within our community.” Attendee Dhvani Patel, agreed, adding, “I try to imbibe in [my children] a basic Hindu value of mutual respect.”  

Past conference themes emphasized the importance of investing in the lives of women and girls, the role of women in their family and community, as well as women’s health, wellness and balanced development.

International Women’s Day was on March 8, and is celebrated with several thousand events around the world. As an organization with consultative status with the United Nations, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha is taking an active role in honoring the achievements and contributions of women. BAPS has over 160 humanitarian activities focusing on women’s development, including women’s literacy, health and wellness education, post-disaster relief and support, and assistance for women to secure livelihoods for their families.

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