Engaging in advocacy among churches and women’s fellowship, organizations and church run institutions and enhancing the capacity of church and community leaders to promote women’s and children’s human rights has been the major focus of All India Council of Christian Women . Every year this advocacy gains its momentum during the UN Campaign of 16 Days Advocacy to Eliminate Violence on Women and Girls from 25th November to 10th December . It is during this time that AICCW also accompanies member churches and women’s fellowships in their pilgrimage to end violence on women and children. AICCW links women’s fellowships and member churches to different ecumenical networking and encourages churches to share their work , strategies and stories to build just inclusive communities
AICCW – NCCI accompanied CNI- SSI ( Church of North India Social Service Institute of Nagpur Diocese ) in its ministry to empower children about rights to life and dignity and prevent abuse. A Seminar on Empowering Girls about Self Defense Skills and Gender Justice was organized in New Kurvez’s High school in Nagpur to commemorate Human Rights Day and to promote ‘Girls’ and Children’s Rights are Human Rights’. More than 300 children both boys and girls participated in this seminar .
According to Mrs Aradhana Upadhayay Director of CNI- SSI “The Nirbhaya rape case, in which a young girl was gang-raped and thrown in the streets by young boys, opened the Pandora’s box regarding how vulnerable are our girls in India, and how violent and patriarchal is our culture. Our homes, schools, roads and communities are not safe for girls, children and women. CNI- SSI engages in ministry in empowering grassroots communities to promote safe homes , safe communities and safe schools for girls , and safe spaces for women and children along with sustainable development programs and activities. Sustainable development cannot be possible unless there is gender equality . We have several programs and projects even to empower children in schools about their rights. This Human Rights Day, CNI-SSI of Nagpur Diocese organized a Seminar on Empowering Girls about Self Defense Techniques and Gender Justice. Martial Arts , Judo , Karate are no more just for boys and men; our girls can also learn . Through this training we are also teaching children to break silence in case of abuse, and sexual, physical and other forms of assault. We also get an opportunity to create awareness among children about their rights .”
According to Mrs. Veena Mohadikar, Head Mistress of the school, children in this school come from economic backgrounds below poverty level. Most of them are from Dalit and Indigenous communities and are children at risk.
Ms Moumita Biswas during this Seminar shared with children regarding what is gender equality, techniques to break silence in case of abuse and sexual assault . She created awareness among children regarding the necessity to discern ‘what is Right Touch and what is Wrong Touch’ and how one can prevent sexual and other assaults .
“In our country, though girls and girl children are vulnerable, boys also face abuse; the culture of violence is a vicious cycle. Those abused during childhood or those who witness violence become perpetrators of violence. Women also perpetuate violence. Mothers provide less food or opportunities to their daughter than to their sons. We a need to empower not only our girls but also boys from tender age about gender equality. Knowledge about gender justice, equality and sex education should be included in the curriculum of schools. In our culture there is taboo on talking about such matters. Children may even get punished in some schools if they talk about Cinderella kissing Prince Charming in the fairy tale. They are prevented to even have knowledge about their own sexuality. Girls are stopped from going to school or college if they fall in love. Such reports comes to us from mothers in women’s fellowships. Such culture of violence can end if communities are empowered and awareness is created among children to discern between true love, lust and violence from childhood. There is need to nurture spirituality of justice and responsible love to prevent relational disorders which lead to violence on women, girls and children whose bodies become commodities and battlefields where lust and hatred, vengeance, and war are exhibited” states Ms Biswas .
Human Rights Day was also commemorated in the NCCI Secretariat in Nagpur . The morning devotion, which included sharing and Biblical reflection on ‘Women and Girls Rights as Human Rights,’ was organized by AICCW. According to Miss Hungreiphi Zimik, intern of AICCW, who has been actively engaged in promoting 16 Days Activism Campaign, “This is part of our staff capacity enhancement about rights of women and girls as we commemorate Human Rights Day.” The Asian Church Women’s Conference Prayer theme of 2016 “ Let there be no Poor among you’ was chosen for the reflection .
Asian Church Women’s Conference unites Church Women in Asia. It was founded by Mrs Shanti Solomon, also the founding mother of All India Council of Christian Women. ACWC every year shares a liturgy for a prayer service, seeking to unite church women in Asia in prayer. This year the liturgy was prepared by Mongolia. AICCW is also a member of ACWC.
Ms Biswas further states “In today’s context poverty means not merely economic poverty but also spiritual poverty. India is the 4th most dangerous country in the world for a woman to live in and for a girl child to survive. Unless we address this issue of spiritual poverty, we cannot eradicate the culture of violence or end violence on women and children .”
Dr Roger Gaikwad, General Secretary of National Council of Churches observes, “Most of our member Churches have various projects , program, and institutions through which they support vulnerable women, girls and children. The aim of NCCI is to invite and
empower member churches to move beyond the charity paradigm of mission and adopt a ‘Rights and Love’ Based Approach in its ministry.This is a huge task and responsibility for the Church .”
AICCW- NCCI also accompanied Baptist Women leaders from East and North Eastern part of India to promote ‘Discipleship of Equals and Women’s Ordination’ during Women’s Leadership Conference in Chandipur in Orissa from 25th -27th November 2016, organized by All India Baptist Fellowship . Women leaders from 12 Baptist Conventions attended this meeting .
Reported by All India Council of Christian Women
Women’s Commission of NCCI