NEW YORK – Five pioneering women spoke on the occasion of International Women’s Day, celebrated at the Consulate General of India in New York, on Thursday, March 8.
The event was attended by about 100 people, including Miss India USA 2017 Shree Saini who spoke on the occasion, saying “empowerment begins with a child, whether it is a male or a female. We need to give our children the unconditional love and support to build their self-esteem as only then they will they feel empowered to conquer any obstacles in life.”
The event was organized by the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA), whose president Srujal Parikh said “I’ve always been surrounded by powerful women; my mom, my wife, my daughter and my friends,” before he recognized the group of women who have been the backbone of FIA who always “work so hard to make sure everything runs smoothly.”
In his address on International Women’s Day, Consul General of India in New York Sandeep Chakravorty said, “today, when we are celebrating International Women’s Day, I pay my tribute to women all over for their courage and hard work. While women represent half of humanity, they are responsible in bringing the other half up.”
The Consul General added that though Indians worship women deities as well as the women in their lives, “we are infamous for treating our women badly both inside and outside the home.”
The Consul General also welcomed the five women who spoke on the occasion, including TV anchor Nisha Mathur, author Myra Godfrey, social worker Eshita Chakrabarti, musician and entrepreneur Chandrika Tandon and Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak; as well as violinist Daisy Joplin, who gave a moving performance. Eight female pilots from Air India were felicitated as well.
Mathur emphasized the fact that women’s empowerment is not just about the big things like voting, but that it is also about the small and important things like “having a say in your household, choosing who you want to marry or even marrying at all.”
She added: “Empowerment means that there should be no hesitation in listening, no hesitation in speaking and no hesitation in acting.”
Godfrey gave the audience three tips for how to live a prosperous life: have a spiritual connection with yourself, balance is about nourishment and eliminate negativity in your life as it will decrease your health.
Chakrabarti brought up the fact that there are only 26 percent of women in the U.S. who are in politics.
“It has become a subject of great importance to have representation in every state legislature and in Washington D.C. so that we can advocate for our communities, our rights, our beliefs, our values, our culture and our future in bringing the best through assimilating ourselves and our upcoming generations,” she said.
Tandon mentioned that 41 percent of the students who are enrolled in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering are women and that “women are men multiplied.”
She also encouraged the women in the room to say the following phrase: “I am perfection, you are perfection, we all are perfection.”
Professor Spivak spoke on the topic of feminism.
“Feminism involves accessing the mindset of men as well as women in order to shifty there assumptions and desires into assumptions and desires that imagine a world of gender equality not only in material terms but in spirituality terms. It is a collective project because it must be sustained generation after generation,” she said.
International Women’s Day started out as Working Women’s Day in 1909 and it was only in 1975 that the UN declared the day as International Women’s Day, which is celebrated on March 8 every year.