Bengaluru: Stories of bravery, entrepreneurship and demolition of stereotypes held the audience in sway at the inaugural of the eighth International Women’s Conference (IWC) on Friday. It’s a three-day event bringing together women achievers from all walks of life sharing their stories with students, rural businesswomen and others.
The Art of Living (AoL) event, themed Life, A Mystical Journey, brought together over 250 delegates from 60 countries and saw participation of 75 speakers. It is being livestreamed to lakhs of people in over 100 countries.
The conference was attended by personalities from various fields including Anuradha Koirala, governor of Nepalese province Hetuda, who runs Maiti, an anti-trafficking organization; Prof Adriana Marais, a theoretical physicist and one of the 100 Mars One Project astronaut candidates and actor Rani Mukerji.
Chetna Gala Sinha, founder chairwoman of Mann Deshi bank and foundation, the first bank set up for and by rural women in the country in 1997, spoke of the challenges she faced in getting a Reserve Bank of India licence for the institution.
“They told us that none of the women were literate and couldn’t sign documents. Determined to have access to financing opportunities, the women taught themselves the basics in seven months. They claimed their ability to count was more important than their ability to read. This was an important step for women who save as little as Rs 3 per day, and were unable to open a savings account for themselves,” she said.
“Women are self-sufficient and the biggest influencers. They don’t need anyone to stand up for them,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of AoL.
Talking about her changed goals, Rani said, “My latest film highlights a relatively unknown condition called Tourette’s syndrome. My goals have changed, now it is not about winning the best actor award or setting the box office on fire, but telling stories that bring about social change. Similarly, calling it girl child education and not simply children’s education is bringing about a divide.”
(Inputs by Aditi Warnoolkar)
Aditi Warnoolkar is a student of NSoJ and is now an intern with Times of India, Bangalore