International Women’s Conference

The three day 8th International Women’s Conference concluded recently at The Art of Living International Center in Bengaluru. Chetana Gala Sinha, Founder and Chairperson, Mann Deshi Bank, Rani Mukherjee, Indian Actress, Arundhati Bhattacharya, Former Chairman, State Bank of India, KS Chitra, National award winning playback singer, Madhoo Shah, Actress of Roja fame were among the 500 women  achievers who attended the conference. The conference called out for international support to bring back the Yazidi girls from ISIS captivity through a signature campaign, #BringBackOurGirls.

“Women are the greatest influencers in our lives- she influences the children, the spouse and the families,” said Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the conference. The 8th edition of the International Women’s Conference organised at the splendid Vishalakshi Mantap of The Art of Living International Center drew to a close with speakers like Madhoo, Indian actress of Roja fame, Amish Tripathi, celebrated author, and Anette Kristine Ringnes, researcher at Independent Commission on Multilateralism, sharing their experiences of intertwining womanhood with spirituality, leadership and the way forward.

The highlight of the 3-day conference were the stories of inspiration, courage and impact, some that moved the collective audience to tears like those shared by the Yazidi women- of what it means to be a survivor of ISIS, and the power of spirituality to overcome the severe trauma they have faced. Like Chetna Gala Sinha, Founder or Mann Deshi Bank, who empowered rural women, rejected by banks, to an an extent where they made it possible to form a cooperative bank. Like Anupama Hoskere, Director Dhaatu Puppet Theatre, who beat all reservations about her ability to learn the craft of puppetry being a woman and excel at it. These are few of the many stories shared at the conference. “Problems and challenges are always there,” shared Bhanumathi Narasimhan, Chairperson, International Women’s Conference, during the inaugural session of the IWC, “But when we are in the right frame of mind, we can come together to find solutions and move ahead. Most often we are looking for someone else to solve the problem, some hero or some other person. But Gurudev on the other hand has inspired us all to become the change and lead.”

Actor Madhoo paid her respect to celebrated artist Sridevi, after her untimely death, “Somebody from our fraternity passed way, I’ve lost a dear friend today. I thought I might not be able to come today. I came, because one thing I’ve known is to show up. I got so much love when I came here, that all that was taken away from me in the morning, I got back. And this for me is my spirituality.” Concurring with the theme of the conference, actor Rani Mukherjee, award winning actor, said, “My goal as an actor has changed. It’s not about winning awards or setting the box office on fire. It’s about telling stories with the potential to create change.” With women from 60 countries including 250 delegates, 100 rural women, 60 students from over 30 colleges, the conference set the tone for open discussions about critical issues faced by women in positions of leadership and influence and how spirituality provides key tools for their professional and personal journeys.