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Connecting Women – Inspiring Futures

This was the theme for the annual Women’s Day celebrations organized on May 18th by the Violence Against Women Prevention program of India Rainbow. Manju Panchapakesan, director operations and Rosa, senior counselor, Women’s Services, welcomed the participants. The jam packed agenda got off to a fine start with an ice breaker activity where guests at each table had to either draw or write a few words to express their impression about the theme of the day. All women worked in groups and put down in their own words, what the theme meant to them.

Shanti Devanand, a lawyer, spoke about her own early struggles to settle in a new country and how difficult it was get
accepted in the legal profession in Canada. She inspired women by narrating her own experience. In spite of having a
Master’s degree in law from India, Shanti had to enroll in a university for additional courses in order to practice as a lawyer in Canada. She also had to deal with issues because of her intercultural marriage, and the choice she made to
raise a family at a later stage. Her message to all women, particularly those who are in an abusive situation is to be clear and focused about the decision they want to make. A clear long-term plan will make the transition much easier; because as a lawyer she has seen many women going back to an abusive situation rather than facing the challenges of starting a new life.

Kitty Chadda, Executive Director wished all women for Mother’s Day and reminded that each woman in the room is
a strong testimonial to the power that we all have within us, and we can always grow stronger with help and support
from India Rainbow.

Justice Manjusha Pawagi, a journalist, author and judge spoke about fitting into the new society and her own experiences about being a brown person while working as a journalist. She said that people will always perceive you as someone different based on their own ideas, but it is up to each one of us to establish our own identity. She encouraged the women not to be deterred by a few setbacks because failure is an indication of trying, and that one must do the best they can to reach their potential.

Ramneet, IRCS staff sang a Hindi inspirational song titled ‘tu hi tu’ which praised women. Sharmila and Rupinder
read survival stories of clients who got immense help from India Rainbow and have found a new life after abuse. The
monologue by Ramneet about a girl child thinking of the tough life and how she and her mother rallied to persevere
and move on was very touching.

The senior women of India Rainbow’s Wellness program performed the traditional gidda dance, followed by a very energetic Zumba dance conducted by Merita Elmzowski. The raffles and prizes for the day were sponsored by Nazli Rehman, Vice President of India Rainbow and Brampton Skincare Academy. Others present at the event were Sunita Malik, Board member, Sheela Joshi Past President, and guests from other networking agencies. A delicious buffet lunch and free mehndi application by Saima went well with the crowd of approximately one hundred women present for the event. Dr. Sandeep Bhasin generously sponsored the event, and India Rainbow is truly thankful to him.

For more information, contact Daksha Mulla at dmulla@indiarainbow.org.

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