Voices of Faith brings women to Vatican on International Women’s Day

Voices of Faith brings women to Vatican on International Women’s DayThe second annual Voices of Faith storytelling event takes place in Vatican on Sunday March 08, 2015, as women from ten countries and four continents gather in the Casina Pio IV to celebrate International Women’s Day. The initiative was launched last year by Catholic philanthropist Chantal Goetz “to enhance the dignity, participation and leadership of women and girls through persistent and good storytelling."

Voices of Faith

Voices of Faith is jointly supported by the Fidel Goetz Foundation and Caritas Internationalis. Two projects that highlight women in leadership roles and whose work benefits women and their communities have been selected to receive the “Women: Sowers of Development” Prize to be awarded at the event on Sunday. Caritas Internationalis’ policy and advocacy officer, Martina Liebsch says of the two €10,000 prizes, one will be awarded to Caritas Nicaragua for its program helping women set up vegetable gardens which allow them to feed their families and also to sell their produce to their local communities.

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala

Astrid Lobo Gajiwala from Mumbai in India is taking part at an event taking place on Sunday within Vatican walls to mark International Women’s Day. She’s among the speakers at this Vatican event entitled ‘Voices of Faith’ which brings together a group of remarkable women from across the world, to share their personal stories and exchange ideas from a woman’s perspective in an effort to build a better future.
Dr. Astrid Lobo Gajiwala is Catholic, her husband Dr. Kalpesh Gajiwala is Hindu. Mother of three, she has been living her Christian commitment in an interfaith family for the past 25 years, in a subcontinent where Christians are only 2.3% of the population. As soon as she arrived in Rome, so ahead of the ‘Voices of Faith ‘ event, Veronica Scarisbrick invited her to Vatican Radio’s studios to find out more about the work she has undertaken over the years in the drawing up of gender policies in the context of the Indian Church.
She explains how since 1992 she has worked with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in relation to issues focusing on the empowerment of women in Church and society. However she’s careful to specify she did so as a member of a team of consultants and highlights how the outcome of this effort over the years developed into the acceptance on the part of the bishops to opt for a gender policy.
A result Dr Lobo describes as a success story in terms of women’s work in partnership within the Church but nevertheless one difficult to implement for it relates in a special way to under privileged women in areas of interest as varied as health, education and violence against women. Asked if there are issues in the document that are especially meaningful to her Dr. Lobo comments as to how the language of the document is really quite radical, expressions used are for example discipleship of equals, a collaborative church with gender justice, zero tolerance to violence against women.
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