GOPIO’s International Women’s Conference was held which was attended by delegates and guests invited from New Zealand, India and Australia. The theme of the conference was – ‘Women of Indian Diaspora –opportunities, empowerment and challenges’.
Different speakers from fields and age groups shared their views and it was very heartening to see and listen to speakers from 25-80 years sharing their life- time’s experiences.
The conference was opened by universal prayer which was followed by warm welcome by Chairperson Suman Kapoor (NZ) . Her inspirational and dynamic delivery of her opening comments gave a commendable start to the Conference. She shared many of her personal experiences and understandings with the attendees .
Key note speakers included Minister Judith Collins (Ethnic Affairs Minister, NZ, National Government), Pradeep Kapoor and Sameer Handa.
Judith Collins (Minister of justice, Ethnic affairs Minister, Government of NZ) while speaking on the occasion her reiterated importance of confidence and advised women of breaking the imaginary glass ceiling they create around themselves.
“With women first winning the right to vote in 1893, women are now achieving so much in society and in all sectors in the society including commerce, politics, in the legal world, literature, science, arts and on the sports field”, said Judith Collins.
“There are inequalities to address and challenges yet to overcome, the challenges faced by women in NZ and factors that still hamper women’s success – particularly in around increasing the number of women in senior management and leadership positions as faced in Australia and around the world. Although women are more and more qualified – they still suffer unconscious bias in the workplace which can hamper career progression and leadership pathways”, added Judith.
Judith acknowledged Indian who have made a mark in New Zealand including former Governor General Anand Satyanand a well-respected Ombudsman and District Court Judge, Deepak Patel a well know cricketer, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, M.P. who was born in India and came to New Zealand in 2001 bringing the value of insights to Parliament and his personal experience.
Judith said, “All women, including those of Indian descent, have played and will continue to play an important role in New Zealand’s story. Their contribution and example they set for their children is crucial. Women achieving further success will take a determined effort over time and the collective actions of many. The benefits will be immense, not only for women, but for their families, our communities and all our nations. It has been my privilege to share some of New Zealand’s story with you today and I wish you well for a successful conference”.
Her simple advice was well noted by the audience.
Lucky Singh, one of the speakers while taking up the subtheme of the day violence against women and children said that the domestic violence happens to everyone – all races, all religions, all income of education levels.
“It’s everywhere. Everyone thinks not exactly that it is a women’s issue. Over 85% abusers are men of domestic violence. It happens only in intimate relationships”, she added.
Aman Singh, another speaker from Australia while speaking on issues for youth in Australia said , “It is important to provide the youth with skills to confront bullying at primary schools, high schools and universities. Most important is the raising self-respect and pride for all Indian youth”.
Shoba Ingleshwar from Om Multicultural Get 2 Get organization sang a song ,“Tum Asha Aur Wishwas ” on the occasion.
Amrit Versha who specializes in Domestic and Family Violence, community development and human rights education showed her documentary of her work related to domestic violence.
Bala Thomson (Wellington NZ) –A GOPIO supporter since its inception (USA) and a person of Indian Origin South Africa, encouraged women to speak the minds and stand up for the rights.
She also spoke of the speed bumps on the initial move towards broadcasting in Hindi, Gujarati and English. She was the first Indian woman to become a “Justice of the Peace” and a marriage celebrant. As an awardee of queen’s service medal (QSM) 23 years ago by the Government of New Zealand for her services to the Indian community.
Rekha Rajvanshi’s presentation on Domestic Violence was very attractive and in depth. She who is a teacher, poetess, writer and Hindi NAATI accredited translator.
She also spoke on the types of domestic violence and recited a poem which was taken all to thoughts and tears.
Whereas Shruti Arya ,student leader Sydney spoke about dreams Indian Youth envisages and the real struggles beyond economic, cultural, language and job opportunities moving forward with advanced thoughts.
Dr. Neerja Arun Gupta who is the principal of Bhartiya Vidya Seth R A College of Arts and Commerce, Ahmadabad and Senate member, Academic Council and syndicate member at Gujarat university (India) also spoke on the occasion.
She a charter President of Ahmadabad chapter of GOPIO.
Speaking about the glory of women in ancient time and injustice for her in recent times, she explained various significant roles that women were performing in the ancient times.
Dr. Mortaza Sham (Hamilton, Waikato University NZ) spoke on the Indian Muslim Women and the Question of Integration. He threw light on well researched topic.
Rupali Rastogi, Neeru Singh also presented their views. Vote of thanks was followed by few words by Dr. Neeraja A. Gupta who is Co-Chair of Academic Council GOPIO International.
Suman Kapoor (Chairperson) thanked all the speakers and attendees for making this conference a grand success. She encouraged to help her in the publication of an yearly newsletter containing the achievements and timely address of the issues related to women and she invited motivated all to attend GOPIO Convention, New Delhi, on 5/6 January along with PBD 7-9 January2014.
Alkesh Sharma honoured Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi (MP from NZ) a great supporter of the conference .