From the Union of Catholic Asian News
NEW DELHI (UCAN) -– An Indian Catholic nun will be among representatives and officials at a UN meeting in New York to review progress in providing greater equality for women.
Nazareth Sister Ann Moyalan, who leaves New Delhi tomorrow [Feb. 24] for the March 1-12 meeting, said her presence at the meeting would be “proof” of what Catholic Religious have done for women’s liberation in India.
The UN-sponsored meeting aims to review progress that countries have made in implementing the Beijing Declaration.
In September 1995, representatives of 189 governments and more than 2,100 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met in Beijing and charted a new agenda for women’s empowerment and equality.
The official conference and a parallel NGO forum were the largest in UN history, attracting over 50,000 participants and observers.
The upcoming meeting will study how the governments have tried to implement the Beijing declaration, Sister Moyalan said.
She is attending in her role as a member of the UN-recognized NGO, the Charity Federation, which links up Religious congregations who share the spirituality of St. Vincent De Paul.
Religious ‘toiled in India’s slums’
At the New York meeting, Sister Moyalan plans to present the work that women, particularly Religious women, are doing for women’s socio-economic liberation and equality.
The nun said that for decades, Catholic Religious “toiled day and night in the villages and slums of India trying to help women and children” before corporate social services began.
Her own congregation, the Kentucky-based Sisters of Charity of Nazareth, has worked for women’s liberation since its arrival in India more than 50 years ago.
She said she hopes to widen her network with other people and organizations during the meeting days.
“When I return, I can also share my experience with other Religious and co-workers,” she told UCA News.
Sister Moyalan worked in Bihar villages in her youth, fighting witch-hunting, a practice that saw women, often widows, labeled as witches and killed.
She now works in a slum in New Delhi, educating predominantly Muslim women and girls. Often, this was opposed by their menfolk and Sister Moyalan said getting the men’s support for women’s education is the biggest challenge.
The nun urged women Religious to come “out in the open.” She wants them to take leadership roles so that their works get better support.
“The world should see the good work we are doing. It will help us get support. It will inspire others to stand for a just cause, which in turn will make the world a better place,” the sari-clad nun said.