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Women empowerment Conference in Northeast India

Two-day Women Empowerment conference was organized by the Regional Women's Commission of Northeast India at the Jubilee Memorial Hall, Guwahati on 18 and 19 March 2023.

At the Women's Empowerment Conference, the importance of women in society was emphasized

Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, President of the Northeast India Regional Bishops' Council (NEIRBC) pointed out that "in Indian society, including the Church, women play a secondary role and are subjugated by their parents, husbands, and in-laws in the family and their employers. It is time to stress the equal importance of women in society, the family and in the Church.”

"Women's empowerment involves treating men and women equally and allowing them to develop themselves. Such gatherings are an impetus for women to assert their position in the family and to teach society that women have their rights, and they can carry out their responsibilities well,” continued the Archbishop.

More than 450 delegates participated from Northeast India's fifteen dioceses.

Bishop Dennis Panipitchai, the Auxiliary Bishop of Miao Diocese and the Chairman of the Regional Women's Commission of Northeast India, highlighted the theme, “Empowering Women Today for a Sustainable Tomorrow.”

Bishop Dennis said, “Women’s Empowerment means to increase and improve women’s social, economic, political and legal strength and it will ensure that her entire family receives better healthcare, nutrition, access to education, employment, economic justice and sustainability. The Northeast Region with all its uniqueness should lead and be the harbinger of the change our country and the world are in need of.”

Ruth Chihanphi Luiram, Anti Human Trafficking Programme coordinator of Caritas India said, “Wishing women on Women’s Day alone is not able to empower women and the Northeast India Region has almost become synonymous with human trafficking.”

Due to a lack of education, innocent girls and women are lured by job-offer promises and sold like cattle, and many never return to their homes.

She stated, "Education is the key to women's empowerment and it is the fuel that makes our wheels move to create an empowered society.”

Sister Lidwin Fernandes, National Secretary for the Women Commission of Conference of Catholic Bishops in India, Sister Archana FCC, Women Commission Coordinator from Imphal Archdiocese, Professor Lukose P.J. from Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati, Sister Navya FCC National Secretary for the Women's Council of Catholic Bishops Conference of India, shared their views and experiences of Women Empowerment.

Father Tom Mangattuthazhe, Secretary for Ecumenism of NEIRBC, Father Tony Marshal and Mr Jonas Lakra, Zonal Manager, Caritas India, directed the panel discussion to highlight the need for awareness among men to empower women.

A woman activist from Nagaland, Vilanuo Angela Yhome shared tips on empowering women politically and Dr Manisha from Railway Hospital, Maligaon discussed tips on physical, mental, and psychological health for women.

“This is the second largest gathering of women I have attended after the one in Shillong in 2013,” said Nongstoin diocese's Diolis Marwein.

Lucy Vanlalhruaii from the Aizawl diocese said, "All sessions were relevant to our challenges in society and the summit helped us to understand empowerment by women."

Hemlata Choudhury from Guwahati Archdiocese said, “It was overwhelming to see women from different cultures and dialects coming together on one platform to share their concerns and seek solutions.”

Priscilla Vung from the Imphal diocese said, “We should have such programmes more often and in different dioceses of the region to learn from each other and our tribes better.”

“This conference has empowered all of us and now we are ready to apply what we have learned to our families, villages, and society to become empowered women tomorrow,” said Tilotama Reang from Agartala diocese.

"To be able to conduct a mega summit like this for women, by women is itself an example of women empowerment," stated Sister Sunanda SND, Secretary of the Northeast India Regional Women's Commission.

“This is a good start in that direction, but we cannot solve all existing problems by coming together in large numbers,” she said.

Women's issues, everyday challenges, and discrimination in society were discussed through input sessions, animations, and panel discussions.

An overall theme-oriented skit and song were presented at the concluding ceremony by women groups from different dioceses in the region. - with inputs from The North- East Affairs


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