By September 10, 2013 Read More →

CSW57: Using Our Inner Resources to Bring Change

The Brahma Kumaris hosted a parallel event at CSW57 on Monday, March 11. The event titled ‘Both Men and Women Using their Inner Resources to Bring Change: Relearning Peace’ was held at the Church Center for United Nations.

Nalishha Mehta welcomed and congratulated all those in attendance for having made it through the first week of the CSW! She set context to the morning’s panel discussion by sharing her personal experience from facilitating a women’s workshop in Nairobi. Violence begins with a thought, which manifests into our words and actions, she said. To truly eliminate violence, we need to make a shift in our consciousness.

The panelists included:

Carl Murrel, United Nations Representative, National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’i’s of the United States

Denise Scotto, United Nations New York Representative, International Federation of Women in Legal Careers

Luis Mora, Chief Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch Technical Division, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

Gayatri Naraine, United Nations Representative, Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University

(Click Here to view biographies of the panelists)

In his thoughtful demeanor, Carl Murrel began by reflecting on his experience of the first week at the CSW. Amidst all the talk about ‘engaging’ men in dealing with violence against women, not much was being said about ‘transforming’ men, he said. Our reality is shaped by our thoughts. The introduction of alternate ways of thinking therefore becomes extremely critical. Sharing his personal experience from conducting workshops with men in Africa, he observed that men would gather under the shade of the tree while women were left to sit around it, baring the direct rays of the sun. On further probing, he realized that the men in the community were not doing so consciously, to be negligent towards the women. It was simply a social custom. When the thought of treating women with greater respect was introduced to this group of men, they worked together to make the change. In another engaging activity, groups of men and women were asked to write their daily tasks on a board. This resulted in men developing greater respect for the role their mothers, wives and daughters played in their lives. While laying stress on the issue of VAW, Carl mentioned that it was impossible to separate men’s violence against women from men’s violence as a whole. Men’s violence has become a part of our culture, and it is important to address this issue in its entirety. Relating back to the idea of transformation, Carl said that men and women needed to work together in this process of change, particularly women accompanying and supporting men along the way.

Denise Scotto talked about the many different faces of Peace. Peace means different things to people at different times in their lives, she said. But the most important is peace of mind and well being. Speaking with reference to her background in law and policy making, she said, law can be a positive tool for change. But it is not all about the words, the laws and policies. Proper implementation by states and involved agencies is the key to success. In our roles as global citizens, we all share the responsibility as well. It takes courage for each one of us to look beyond our goals and needs to do the right thing for greater good. She acknowledged the Brahma Kumaris for providing individuals worldwide with the platform to connect with their inner resources and find this strength within.

Luis Mora stressed the importance of taking into account cultural sensitivities when combating any issue. Insensitive approaches to addressing issues in a particular culture could lead to a compromise in the dignity and humiliation for individuals. Many would even prefer death over being humiliated, he said. He shared the example of working with a group of indigenous women to provide better maternal care and birthing facilities. Though hospitals and care centers were accessible and available to this community, they did not consider the environment of these spaces to be appropriate to bring new lives into the world. The color white for them represented death, and the linen and walls at the hospital were all white. Similarly, the women in this community gave birth with their families by their sides, while this was not allowed at the hospitals. This created major barriers in these women accepting the assistance they were being offered.

Gayatri Naraine shared a very personal experience of when she felt the violation of an essential spiritual right as a human being. She said that in life, we are often faced with situations that make our being feel violated. It is therefore important to build capacity on the inside, to reaffirm the dignity and worth of each and every human being. As beings, as souls, we have no gender and we are all made equal. Though the world today tells women that they are not that important, the role of women in healing the world today is pivotal, she said. It is time for us (both men and women) to reaffirm that which we know we have to do and step up. When a woman is in touch with her inner resources, she has the capacity and that becomes her encouragement. It is with the expression of these resources that when she steps into a community, she is able to create a positive viral effect. Around the world today, women are guiding the way in transformational processes, while involving men as partners. To conclude, she said, in working from a spiritual platform, equality of our lives comes from the equality of our self respect.

This was followed by a short and lively Q&A session with the audience. A young girl, the Prime Minister of the Children’s Parliament from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu stood up to share her inspiration to induct a Minister for Peace in her cabinet, upon her return to India. The room broke out in applause.

The successful event was brought to a close with a gentle guided reflection by Julia Grindon-Welch, Brahma Kumaris UN Representative, who took the group into the silent inner space where one can reconnect with and recharge the being.

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