Indian women chart their course for larger involvement

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One-Day Conference discusses challenges and problems
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Auckland, September 26, 2018
125 years post New Zealand women gaining the voting right under the able leadership of Kate Sheppard, New Zealand Indian Central Association (NZICA) Women’s Forum dedicated their yearly conference to celebration of Women’s Suffrage.
Held against the backdrop of Bucklands Beach, the Conference was attended by 106 delegates from across New Zealand.
The dynamic women represented varying fields, including social work, business, medical practice, microbiology, teaching, research, banking and insurance.
Students and homemakers were also among the participants.
NZICA facilitated the Conference and enhanced partnership and engagement with other organisations who work tirelessly in the community.
Among those present were members of the Zarathushtrian Association of New Zealand, Woman Care Trust, Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin, NewZealand Sikh Women’s Association, Pukekohe Mahila Mandal, Association of Konkani Kiwis in Aotearoa and Art of Living.
Prompted by the celebratory occasion and Prime Minister Jacinda Arden’s  message to the NZICA, the daylong event was packed with presentations, speeches, group discussions, dances, yoga, and a play.
Collective thinking
Commencing the programme, NZICA Women’s Forum Chair Dr Primla Khar said that the vision of her Forum was to facilitate women of the Indian Diaspora in New Zealand to think collectively for the betterment of our next generation.
She said that it is the responsibility of everyone to challenge our own social and cultural norms while maintaining a strong and healthy connection with our roots.
“We need to recognise our inner strength and while striving for excellence ourselves offer a friendly helping hand to other women. More so to those who are in danger of being left behind,” she said.
Dr Primla expressed the need for relationship building within NZICA and Associate Members and also other organisations that participate in promoting wellbeing of all and women.
Suffrage for women
Passion, perseverance and dedication were the core qualities that helped women to realise their dream to gain the right to vote.
These ordinary women collectively helped change the course of history, placed Kiwi women on the world map and hence ensured betterment of women in New Zealand in particular and woman across the world.
The work was not over yet though. Gender gap in pay, violence against women , lack of women representation in leadership roles are some issues that need to be addressed. But today was the day for celebration. And celebrate they did.
Conference highlights
There was short stint of Yoga by Neelu Taore from Art of living, followed by a presentation by Dr Manisha Dullu on Insurance and its usefulness.
This was followed by a Punjabi dance session facilitated by Gurpreet Kaur and her team from Punjabi Cultural Association. Then came Dipika Patel from the Bay of Plenty branch of NZICA with her very informative presentation regarding Indian Women Suffragette who helped the cause of Indian women in India.
The soul stirring dance drama performance by the youth challenging Women’s Empowerment as Reality or Myth had every one’s attention. It was a very sensitive way of approaching the topic of sexual abuse.
Serious discussions
A presentation by Sri Rashmi on the problems and challenges faced by women prompted an introspection and a number of questions: What should we do? Shall we talk about these challenges? Are we courageous enough to discuss these in public?
Interactive sessions were conducted by the leading doctors Pervin Dalal, Vandana Raseela, Bhavana Patel, Keerthana Kamath and Claire Badenhorst (Massey University)
Members of the Auckland, Wellington, Manukau, Bay of Plenty and Country Section of the branches of NZICA, Punjabi Association and Telangana Association participated.
The conference was addressed by Lady Susan Satyanand, Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa, Members of Parliament Priyanca Radhakrishnan (Labour) and Dr Paramjit Parmar (National) and Laila Harre.
Curtains were drawn with ‘The Tale of Kate Sheppard’ a play on the New Zealander, who fought and won the battle for women’s suffrage in New Zealand 125 years ago.

Dr Primla Khar (standing Centre), with the participants at the Annual Conference of the NZICA Women’s Forum of which she is the Chairperson.
(Picture Supplied)

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