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ICWM Kerala Follow-up

At the launching of ICWM on 23 September 2017, the participants proposed forming an extended core-group with women from different church denominations and coming together as ICWM every 3 months. The following activities were realized.

1. Extended Core-Group Meeting

The first meeting of the extended core-group was held on Diwali day, 18 October 2017. 14 members participated at this meeting held at Hridyam CSI Centre, Kottayam. The purpose of this meeting was to facilitate deeper interaction between the core-group members and to plan the proposed ICWM programme in December 2017. In view of this, first part of the meeting consisted of a reflection and sharing on the poem “I Rise” by the Afro-American feminist poet Maya Angelou. A very interesting discussion followed where the participants shared their reflections on the application of the poem to their personal and collective lives.

In the second half of the meeting, there was a discussion on how to take ICWM further to the grassroots and it was decided to hold local meetings, wherever core-group members can organize. 4 local meetings were planned taking the occasion of ‘Campaign on elimination of violence against women’ between 25 November and 10 December 2017, basing these programmes on the theme ‘Women’s Lives Matter’ which has been taken as a broader thematic caption for ICWM, Kerala.

A second core-group meeting was held on 4 November again at Hridyam CSI Centre, with a smaller group of 6 women to plan the December program.

2. ICWM Kerala joining the Campaign for Elimination of Violence against Women.

Joining the campaign for elimination of violence against women, three local programs were held on 25 November 2017, at Ernakulam, Kottayam and Thiruvalla.

The Ernakulam programme was organised by Shanthi Mathai (Marthoma) who is also the secretary of ICWM, Kerala. As Shanthi Mathai reports, this meeting was held at Salem Mar Thoma Church, Ernakulam from 2,30 - 5.30 pm. 24 women belonging to the Mar Thoma, Catholic, CSI, Orthodox , Jacobite Churches participated. Dr. Soumini Jayan (CSI) moderated the session and delivered the presidential address and Sr. Noel Rose (catholic) spoke on the theme: Women's Lives Matter, focusing on gender equality in situations of gender violence. Jiji Johnson (Orthodox), Rose Chacko (Marthoma) and Shanthi Mathai intervened on the theme and animated the discussions.

The Kottayam programme was held at the residence of Mrs. Rachel Mathew, a senior member of Kerala ICWM where 6 women participated from her neighbourhood, and they conducted an interesting discussion on women’s right to lead violence free lives.

The Thiruvalla programme was organized by Shanta George of the Marthoma Church from 2-5 pm. 65 persons participated in the meetingincluding youth from a Bible college, consisting of 20 boys and 15 girls. Ashi Sarah Oommen from the Believers Church presided and Dr. Kochurani addressed the group on Elimination of Violence against Women, which was followed by an interactive session with the youth.

Salini Markose organized a programme at Pallom BJM Hospital Hall (near Kottayam) on 9 Dec.2017 from 3-5 pm, in which 22 women participated. The discussions on the theme ‘Women’s Lives Matter as Lives freed from Violence’ was animated by Kochurani Abraham, Adv. Sheeba Tharakan and Susan Thomas from the core-team.

3. ICWM gathering on ‘Gender Justice for Celebrating Life’.

A second one-day programme of ICWM Kerala was held at TMAM Centre, Manganam, Kottayam, on 16 December 2017, from 10.00 am to 3.30 pm.

The theme of the day was taken as Gender Justice for Celebrating Life. It was decided that there would not be resource persons from outside as the aim of this gathering was to clarify the notion of gender justice and its implications in our lives as Christian women and also to strengthen the fellowship of the members of ICWM, Kerala Unit. This was also meant to be the Christmas celebration of ICWM Kerala unit, celebrating the birth of one who was born to give all life in abundance!

25 women participated in the celebration, the number of participants were less as many were engaged in Christmas preparation programmes in their respective churches. After welcome and prayer, the participants introduced each other in small groups and expressed creatively what gender justice means to them. The main programme consisted of two panels. The first panel addressed the theme of Gender Justice in the Family and Work place and the speakers were Rachel Mathew ( Marthoma), Shiji Varghese (Catholic) and Neethu (CSI). This session was moderated by Shanta George (Marthoma). This was followed by a second panel on the theme ‘Feminist Re-reading the Bible for celebrating Gender Justice’. The panellists were Rachel Mathew (marthoma) and Shiji John (Orthodox). Sr. Mary Nalpathankalam (catholic) moderated the sessions. An interesting discussion followed on the need for effective interventions on the part of women in order to bring about gender justice in the families and the churches.

In the post lunch session, the participants were divided into small groups and the discussions focussed on taking ICWM vision further to the grassroots, through individual initiatives and through local meetings wherever possible. Mary John (Orthodox) offered to organise one at Kottarakkara, the date yet to be finalized. Some expressed interest in taking gender education to schools. Jiji Johnson, Shanthi Mathai offered to coordinate activities in this regard and Kochurani agreed to collaborate. There was some discussion on ICWM intervening at the Maramon Convention that prohibits women’s entry after 6.00 pm, but the group could not come to a definite conclusion as members had differing opinions on the issue. Another idea put forward was to organize a bigger ICWM programme in March 2018, perhaps at Trivandrum the state capital, in connection with Women’s Day. The theme, date and other details of this proposed programme are yet to be discussed and planned. Before concluding, a cake was cut to celebrate Christmas and the participants shared it wishing each other life in abundance.

A registration fee of Rs 100/person was taken to cover the expenses of the day which included meals and other refreshments and contribution to the hall that was availed at a subsidized rate. A contribution from the membership fund of ICWM Kerala was made to cover what could not be met by registration fees alone.

Kochurani Abraham

Coordinator, ICWM Kerala

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