Report and Pics by:Dr Eugene D’Souza
for Daijiworld Media Network - Mumbai (GA)
Mumbai, Aug 22: The Mumbai Archdiocese observed the Justice Sunday on August 17 with emphasis on “Empowerment of Women in Church and Society”. The Commission of Justice, Peace and Development organized seminars and workshops on the above issue in various parishes.
Instances of domestic and societal violence on young girls and women have become common throughout the country. In spite of the economic and technological progress crimes and violence against women such as eve-teasing, female foeticide, female infanticide, molestation, rape, abduction, dowry deaths, trafficking of women for sex and slavery have been on the increase. Women undergo sexual and economic exploitation both in their own houses and at heir work places. There are many instances mental and physical torture of women which result in the women committing suicide or being killed.
Realizing the seriousness of the questions related to women the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) at its Plenary Assembly held at Jamshedpur between February 13 and 20, 2008, selected the topical theme, “Empowerment of Women in Church and Society”. The CBCI recommended that the same theme be adopted on the occasion of the Justice Sunday to be observed throughout India on August 17, 2008.
In the keynote address to the CBI General Body Meeting held between February 13 and 20, 2008 at Jamshedpur, Professor Rita Noronha of the Roshani Nilayam, Bangalore said that women’s empowerment could be traced to Jesus for whom empowerment of women against all forms of bondage, poverty, suffering, disease, untouchability, sexual slavery and adultery, was a priority. Women who associated with Jesus were empowered women and they collaborated with Jesus as equals.
Narrating the role of the Church in the task of empowering women, Professor Rita Noronha further stated that time and again the Church leadership has emphasized the need to reassert the dignity of women in the Church and society, and has called upon all the Church bodies, at the global, national or local levels, to contribute to the process of enabling women to realize their full potential.
In his message for the Justice Sunday, Chairperson of the CBCI Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, Bishop Yvon Ambroise said: “Women today are politically motivated, economically oriented and socially becoming more aware of the great injustices done to them. Hence, it is urgent and imperative that the Church keep pace with this awareness and work towards acknowledging the rightful place of women in its mission. Jesus responded to many women of his time who were helpless and hopeless, who were marginalized and subjected to discrimination and violence…”
The Archbishop of the Mumbai Archdiocese, Oswald Cardinal Gracias in his message for the Justice Sunday stressed the fact that we should develop a proper Christian mindset which sees and accepts woman as God’s creation, equal to man and with an equal opportunity for development and growth, and thus able to make her contribution towards the Church and the country. He further says that in the Gospels there are many instances of Jesus empowering women.
The Commission of Justice, Peace and Development in association with the Political and Civic Cell of the Thane Deanery under the guidance of Fr. Barthol Machado, the Dean, and Mrs. Celine Patil, the Co-coordinator of the Political and Civic Cell organized a seminar on “Empowerment of Women in Church and Society in the Lourdes Church, Kalyan on Sunday, August 17, 2008.
In his introductory address, Fr. Barthol pointed out the need to promote “Empowerment of Women in Church and Society”.
The seminar was conducted by Professor Sonia Rodriguez, faculty member of the Nirmala Niketan College of Social Work, Marine Lines, Mumbai. With her vast experience in women related issues especially while working among the women who suffered due to dowry harassment and domestic violence during her association with the NGO “Satya” for three years before joining the faculty of Nirmala Niketan College, Prof. Sonia enlightened the participants in the seminar through discussion and a documentary titled “Char Diwarem” (Four Walls) regarding the various problems faced by women in family and society and how they can overcome these problems.