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ICWM Mumbai reaches out during the Lockdown of Covid-19 Pandemic

On 1st April, 2020, the leadership of ICWM Mumbai Chapter was handed over to Virginia Saldanha (Coordinator) and Shama Chaterjee (Asst. Co-ordinator). The coordinator invited young volunteers to form a team and lost no time in connecting with all members, understanding the needs of Christian women, and organizing events to support and train ICWM members. The WhatsApp group and email group was updated with contact details to ease communication. News, information, and requests related to issues faced by women in India are shared on whattsapp and discussed.

Online Outreach

Individual members took the initiative to reach out and help during the lockdown to distribute food, collect funds, and in general offer help to people needing it. The WhatsApp group is used to ask for help, make connections and provide help to people. The CoViD lockdown didn’t stop the team from using alternative ways to connect. A group of women was formed to reach out to all members and to others in their neighbourhood during the lockdown and find out how they were faring and if anyone required any help. This group is managed by the Asst-cordinator, Shama Chatterjee.

Domestic Violence Outreach

A group of women volunteered to reach out to victims of domestic violence during the lockdown and help them in whatever way possible. In order to improve the efficacy of their actions, an online training on Domestic Violence was organized by a High Court Lawyer from Majlis Legal Centre on 28th April 2020. Empowered by this, women from ICWM Mumbai have been taking up cases independently and consulting lawyers when necessary.

Feminist Theology The team is also determined to help Christian women develop a feminist perspective of Scripture. Sr Philomena D’Souza FMA was kind to oblige us with her time and share her vast knowledge in feminist theology and exegesis. A webinar is organized every alternate Saturday with the help of the media team - Shefalle Karankikar, Caroline Francis, Jerin Jacob, and Rachael Alphonso, led by Virginia. Initially planned to be a 45minute session, the webinars often spillover to 90 minutes as a range of questions, perspectives, and interpretations are shared and responded to by Sr Philomena. She has addressed patriarchy in the writings of the Bible, the feminist in Jesus, the bravery of the women in the Bible in the backdrop of a culture that was oppressive towards them.

The themes covered so far in this series of online lectures are Women in the Bible, Jesus and Women Disciples, Mary Magdalene: Apostle to the Apostles, Women: You Are Free. The audience so far has between 70 to 120 people including women, men, and religious. New themes for webinars are often suggested by the audience.

ICWM Mumbai continues to keep its eyes and ears open to the realities around, and involve itself in creating awareness or participate in relevant action to assuage women’s problems in India.

- Rachael Alphonso ICWM Mumbai

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