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International Women's Conference
A Memorable Experience at IWC 2018
Mar 01, 2018
By: Student Contributor, University Blog Team
The recently concluded, 8th International Women’s Conference (IWC) brought together women leaders from various spheres of society such as politics, arts, business, media, and academia to engage in meaningful dialogue and sessions.
A team of 15 delegates from the University visited the Ashram to get a share of this eclectic experience and voice their opinions on an international platform. Here is what our women torchbearers have to say about their experience:
“I have been an integral part of every International Women’s Conference since its inception. True to form, the 8th International Women’s Conference has been inspiring as ever. The life stories shared by women from around the world were unique, touching and empowering. They were stories of courage and the unique strength that is characteristic of women across the world. Though the impressions and memories are many, I am taking away 3 tangible experiences from the conference.
- Humility: It was overwhelming to understand how women from different strata have gone through difficulties in life. The story of Shaikha al Shaiba, whose right hand was amputated wrongly when she was barely 18 months old, and the challenges she overcame to emerge victorious in the Iron Man race was deeply moving.
Another appalling story of a young 20 years old Yezidi girl who was rescued from the ISIS camp, brought tears to my eyes. Listening to these stories helps us put our life in perspective. We are the fortunate few who are blessed with so many opportunities and comfort in life. Reminding ourselves of this can fill us with a feeling of gratitude & humility.
- Inspiration: To hear the myriad experiences of women from different walks of life like acting, journalism, coaching, architecture, spirituality etc. was an enriching experience. Their stories of overcoming stereotypes and breaking the glass ceiling was truly inspiring. Irrespective of the field, women still have a long way to go to make their mark at the top. Despite the crippling burden of gender bias and the predetermined limitations, it was inspiring to hear how these women broke through and succeeded. Their sharing gave us all many tangible tips to integrate in our own lives.
- Courage: Courage is often found in unlikely places. It is the regular, day to day stories of struggle which inspire the gumption to do and dream the impossible. One of the most inspiring tales I came across, is of a girl from South Africa who was listed as one of 100 volunteers to travel to Mars!
I met after a long time my dear friend Mawahib, an investment banker, now a full-time Art of Living teacher working in the war-torn areas of Iraq, Syria etc. Despite the personal threat to her life, she led a team of volunteers to rescue Yezidi girls from the Sinjar mountains. If this is not courageous I don’t know what is?! These stories serve as an example to the rest of us – to recognize the reservoir strength in each of us and use it to its full potential!
What made the experience more enriching for me this time, was the presence of a team of 15 delegates (students, faculty, and staff) from the University. Just being together as a team in this event brought us closer and gave us a chance to ponder over how to integrate our individual learnings to enrich and enhance the lives of the girl students in our University.
Working with a visionary personality like Bhanudidi was yet another learning experience. The ease with which she leads is both inspiring and baffling at times. Leadership is perceived to be uptight and power-oriented, but she does it in a light, easy and the most inclusive manner. There are many a leadership lesson to this.
I Chaired a session on the “Secrets of Learning” where I had a very experienced panel of diverse professionals. I emphasized that learning is affected by the 5 Ts:
1) Teacher ( and relationship with students)
3) Time ( we are in)
4) Transfer ( of knowledge)
5) Treasure ( within us)
We invited Shri Prafulla Samal, Hon. Minister of Woman and Child Development Ministry, Odisha to the conference. He shared the efforts made by the state towards the development of women in form of initiatives like Mission Shakti that helps women form self-help groups. We are really proud of the fact that SSU is in a state like Odisha where the government is proactive and far-sighted in making women empowered and independent.” – Mrs. Rajita Kulkarni President, Sri Sri University.
“Participation in IWC is truly a blessing. Women across 60 countries shared their contribution to the society despite hurdles at every step. Ordinary women started with small work with determination and grit. Their perseverance to bring about a change in the society is seen across the world.
I am deeply touched and moved by true stories of struggle by some women. IWC raised the level of confidence in me and a sense of moral responsibility to give my best in whatever I am doing. I come back with a feeling of gratitude for what I am today. True to Guruji’s words, SHAKTI that we are, we all need to help ourselves to be emotionally strong to be able to help others.” – Prof. Srilakshmi Swamy, HOD, Faculty of Architecture
“Every event with the Master is unique and ingrained in practical wisdom. However, the 8th International Women’s Conference of The Art of Living has a great humanitarian underpinning. The Open Defecation Free Initiatives for making lives of women and children better in 7 states and 12 panchayats will improve the socio-economic condition in rural areas and is a step towards joining hands with Government for better public service delivery. The initiative of the brave lady Mawahib to bring back the 3500 Yezidi Women absconded by ISIS needs the support of all who believe in human values.” – Prof. Vijaya Lakshmi Mohanty, PR Head, Sri Sri University
“Being a part of IWC, 2018 was an excellent opportunity for me to meet women leaders and great speakers who have contributed immensely in different fields. Interacting with energetic delegates from around sixty countries all over the world was highly enriching.” – Dr. Pratima Sarangi, HOD, Department of Good Governance and Public Policy, Sri Sri University.
“Being part of the International Women’s Conference 2018 made me experience the strength of the womanhood. Meeting women from different parts of the world with exemplary contribution to the society was so enriching and humbling. It was a unique atmosphere of celebration and service at Art Of Living campus.” – Ms. Sarika Nipunage, Chief Architect, Sri Sri University
“Attending sessions on varied topics was enlightening. I could relate to the common issues faced by women around the globe. There were women leaders from the corporate, education and social sectors. This experiential learning made me realize the strength of women. I also got an opportunity to share my SSU experience which garnered lot of interest amongst the women leaders.” – Dr. Namita Rath, Asst. Professor, FCMS, Sri Sri University
“International women’s conference was a great platform where I felt despite so much diversity in the entire world, we all are united at the level of spirit. Got to meet and hear from women leaders from different countries, cultures and traditions working in various spheres of society as politics, business, banking, film industry, journalism, author, corporate, NGOs, sports , music, Academia, etc, working in their own way thus contributing to the growth of their nation and world as a whole. Venue of the conference was beautifully adorned with vibrant colors of light yellow and white with a delicious feast served for the all three days. Cultural evenings were icing on the cake involving Gurudev’s sessions, dhyaan, spectacular dance performance by 1000 kids of SSRVM and fashion show. On a whole, it was a great learning and inspirational platform for me.” – Ms. Sandhya Sadana, Faculty Associate, Department of Osteopathy, Sri Sri University.