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Regional Programme

South Asia Women Leaders
Capacity Enhancement Training Programme

by Ashani Rhoda John
SCM Sri Lanka

November 18-22, 2008

The South Asia Women Leaders Capacity Enhancement Partnership Programme was organized by the Ecumenical Fomation, Gender Justice and Youth Empowerment (EGY) CCA and South Asia Ecumenical Partnership Programme - SAEPP (WCC). The programme was held on November 18-22, 2008, hosted by the Church of North India at the CNI Bhavan, New Delhi.

Thirty-five women from the six South Asian countries namely Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan participated in the training programme. Ms. Manju Hembron, member of the National Commission for Women Government of India was the chief guest. The keynote address was delivered by Ms. Laksmi kanthi Rupesinghe the General Secretary of the YWCA of Sri Lanka. She covered the areas of women’s concerns in South Asia and the real life experiences and stories she shared indeed touched the minds and hearts of the participants.

Panel presentations on the Women’s Movement in South Asia led by Dr. Azizun Nahar Islam from Bangladesh, Ayra Inderyas from Pakistan and Indira Manandar from Nepal. One of the many issues discussed was on polygamy. Dr. Azizun concentrated on the prevalent in the Islamic tradition and she said that Muslim women are vulnerable on the issue. The explanation of the text from the Quran was indeed very meaningful and enlightening to all the participants.

Worship and Bible Studies were led by the resource person and the participants. Moumitha Biswas conducted a Hermeneutics of Suspicion Bible study on Prophetic Voices of Women on the character of Esther in the Bible Rev Vinod Victor led the second and the third Bible study on the theme “Called to Heal” & “Call to Reconcile” from the text – Mathew 14:22-25 & II Kings6:24 to 7:1-8 and Rev. Enos Das Pradhan joined him in the third Bible study on the said theme.

There were three workshops that formed the core of the meeting proceedings. The main focus in the training was on Women’s Human Rights and Advocacy skills.

The first workshop was on Women’s Human Rights which focused on:

  1. Why women rights to life and dignity is human rights and justice issue;
  2. What is the nexus between women’s human rights and Gender justice;
  3. Mapping women’s Human Rights movements in local regions; and
  4. Identifying what Women’s Human Rights advocacy the Churches can engage in.

This was facilitated by Ms. Mercy Kappen and indeed this was conducted in a very analytical method to understand the issue of gender justice from the Human Rights perspective.

The Second Workshop was on Advocacy Skills to Promote Women’s Human Rights facilitated by Latha M of ENCAS and the third Workshop was on Revitalizing Ecumenical movement and Churches to Promote Women’s Human Rights and it touched on the following and this was led by Ms. Moumitha Biswas. Some of the major points she focused on were:

  1. Evaluating how far women have involved in ecumenical movement in South Asia;
  2. Have they been involved in participatory decision making process for prophetic ministry; and
  3. How to revitalize ecumenical movement.

This indeed is another small step in the sojourn to strengthening ecumenical leadership formation and another ripple that will stir the sea of change as far as Women Empowerment in South Asia is concerned.