International Women’s Conference 2020 with a Difference

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Spirituality, Breaking Boundaries, And Coming Together To Save The Planet-The 9th International Women’s Conference Came A Full Circle

Speakers At The Conference Included Union Min. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Puducherry Gov. Kiran Bedi, Chief Justice of J& K, Wellness Expert Luke Coutinho, Ndelika Mandela, Granddaughter of Nelson Mandela, Among Others 

From starting a movement to reverse the sex ratio in Punjab; to putting Latvian folk culture on the global cultural map, to changing the laws of Nepal to bring in more representation of women in parliament, inheritance, and social justice; to passionately serving the Delhi Police as the first Indian IPS officer, from dancing up a revolution to being vegan celeb chefs-the women speakers at the 9th International Women’s Conference were a force to reckon with.

International Women’s Conference 2020 was where over 400 global women leaders from various fields came together to celebrate womanhood by learning and building each other up, as they delved deeper into the theme of the conference ‘The Circle of life: Passion, Dispassion and Compassion’ and its reflection in our social and personal pursuits. Some of the speakers at the conference included Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Hon. Union Cabinet Minister, Justice Gita Mittal, Hon. Judge of the High Court, J & K, Dr. Kiran Bedi, Hon. Governor, Puducherry, Lauren Von Der Pool, Plant-based celebrity Chef and Cookbook author from USA, Luke Coutinho, renowned lifestyle expert, Ms. Ndileka Mandela, CEO & Founder, Thembekile Mandela Foundation,South Africa, Ms. Dace Melbarde, Member of European Parliament, Latvia, H.E Ms. Baby Rani Maurya, Governor of Uttarakhand, Hon. Justice Sapna Pradhan Malla, Supreme Court Judge, Nepal, and Mr. Nicola Hulot, French Journalist and Environmentalist, Former Minister of Ecology, among others.

Smt. Bhanumathi Narasimhan, Chairperson, International Women’s Conference and director of The Art of Living, set the context of the conference in her opening remarks, “When we are passionate about something, it truly shows in the work we do. When we have a goal, and along with it faith in a higher power, we say that let this or anything better than this happen, we gain the power to let go, the power of dispassion. Compassion is about seeing the bigger picture…how we are interconnected.”

Union Minister Smt. Harsimrat Kaur Badal, spoke about the richness and egality in the relatively young Sikh faith, “Spirituality is there inside everybody,” Kaur said, “You just need somebody to ignite it in you…a spiritual life is where your passion is channeled in the right direction. When you have a Guru in your life, life is stress free.” Dr. Kiran Bedi spoke about the first time she learnt she was passionate about justice, when at the age of 9, she held a man from beating his wife. She also shared how she learned to never complain about what she was passionate about. Talking about justice, Hon. Justice Gita Mittal, Chief Justice of the J&K High Court said, “We need to rise over all our prejudices and dispassionately evaluate facts and then place a judgment. Ms. Ndileka Mandela spoke about the weight of being Nelson Mandela’s granddaughter, the lack of ethical and moral leaders today and the need to elevate the girl children along with the boys in the society. Prominent lifestyle coach, Luke Coutinho in an interesting address, spoke about the role of mind in healing terminal illnesses and the ideal spiritual approach to chemotherapies. He also spoke about how our relationship with food should be. 

Conference witnessed an insightful conversation between Vishen Lakhiani, CEO, Mindvalley and global humanitarian Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, on enlightenment, love, compassion, ways to make relationships work and the art of effortless meditation.

The conference included sessions on themes from creative approaches to use social media tools for positive change; attitudes that shape achievers who are making positive contributions; insights on lifestyles that promote health, well-being and happiness while protecting the environment; to deliberations on the various perspectives that cultures offer that celebrate harmony in diversity.

Recipients of the prestigious Vishalakshi Award instituted for valuable and inclusive contribution to the field of arts and culture included Kannada Actor, Malashri Mangalji, Bharatnatyam exponent, Ms. Uma Thilak, Kuchupudi proponent, Ms.Vanaja Uday, notable choreographer and Indian classical dance expert, Ms.Saroja Vaidyanathan, Indian dance research scholar, performer, Methil Devika, and Sanjay Kumar, social activist and reformer.

The legacy of the paperless conference was Mission Green Earth 2020, where all the delegates took a pledge to plant and nurture 10 million trees in five years. The conference also supports the Art of Living’s Gift a Smile Project that is giving a value based, holistic education to over 70,000 kids in 702 free schools in underserved areas. Some of the children shared the experience of the power of education in their own lives.

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