Birthing of ICWM in Telangana and Andhra Region
ICWM organized its first regional conference in Hyderabad for the Andhra & Telangana regions at the Montfort Social Institute (MSI), Hyderabad on 24th February, 2018. 33 women coming from different Christian denominations participated. Significant among the participants were women political leaders in the Andhra Telangana region, like Dr. Vidya Sravanthi member of Minorities Commission Telangana & Municipal Councillor, Dr. Esther Rani State Secretary of Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee, Christine Lazares former Anglo Indian MLA, & Mary Ravindranath former Congress MLA. Some women travelled long distances from Warrangal, Khamam, Vijayawada and Guntur to be present.
In her Keynote address on the theme “Secularism & Minorities, Challenges and Opportunities”, Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran pointed out that the word “Secularism” was introduced into the Indian Constitution only in 1976 when it needed to be named. Before that it was an unarticulated premise as its interconnected values are already named in the preamble to the Constitution. Secularism means freedom of religion, faith and conscience. Freedom should also be within faiths and streams of faith especially with regard to the women’s question. The term ‘Minorities’ is used for those likely to be subjugated by the dominant group. Today it is being used to drive difference and hence we need to move to a point where the need for naming Minorities should disappear. We need to move towards a common ground where dignity, equality and justice are non-negotiable for all people. She used the example of how the BJP capitalised on the issue of “Triple Talak” that juxtaposed Secularism with Minority by making a law to criminalize Muslim men when all the Muslim women called for was restitutive justice in Triple Talak.
Sr. Julie George SSpS, member of the National Committee of ICWM introduced the ICWM to the participants. She clarified queries from the participants.
Virginia Saldanha, Secretary of the ICWM, explained how the ICWM could help Christian women to enter the mainstream of Indian polity through a process of attitudinal change, awareness and action in her presentation on “Challenges of Being an Indian Christian Woman”. She called on the women present to become leaders and change makers, by addressing the challenges posed to Indian women by the pervasive structures of patriarchy.
Dr. Vidya Sravanthi briefed the women about the Minorities Commission of Telangana State and explained how the different schemes available for minorities could be accessed. The participants were happy to discuss the problems faced by Christians from unregistered Evangelical denominations in accessing these funds.
At the end of the presentations all the women present were absolutely enthused with the idea of creating a regional unit of ICWM in each of the States of Andhra and Telangana. They immediately set about arranging a follow up meeting within the next 15 days to put in place an adhoc committee to work towards this goal. Ms. Christine Lazares volunteered to be the Co-ordinator for the adhoc committee for both states. She has even volunteered to travel to the districts in Telangana & Andhra to help spread ICWM.
Bro. Varghese, associate member of ICWM together with his team at MSI helped in organizing the logistics of the conference with the help of Christine Lazares who drew in several women leaders.
Bro. Varghese proposed the vote of thanks.