Zoroastrian delegation at UN part of 58th Commission on the Status of Women

Empowering Women to break away from the vicious circle of poverty

NEW YORK, March 11, 2014 – Women from all over the World gathered to attend parallel events happening at the Church Centre in the UN Plaza for the CSW meeting.  Havovi Bharda, Tanya Bharda, Rayomond Dinshaw, Homi Gandhi, Nurelle Mehta, Afreed Mistry, Nina Mistry, Behram Pastakia and Mani Rao from FEZANA were all representing the Zoroastrians at the UN CSW meeting.  The group has been working since November 2013 to put together a panel discussion titled, “Empowering women to break away from the vicious circle of poverty.”  The panel discussion moderated by Behram Pastakia was extremely well received yesterday.

Zoroastrian Delegation at the CSW Meeting at the United Nations, March 2014 L-R: Havovi Bharda, Tanya Bharda, Nurelle Mehta, Homi Gandhi, Mani Rao, Afreed Mistry, Rayomond Dinshaw, Behram Pastakia Missing: Nina Mistry

Nurelle Mehta, a Political Science student at Brock University in Ontario, presented the problems faced by rural villages in India, illustrating how lack of education, no access to clean water, malnutrition and lack of employment contribute to the vicious circle of poverty. The panel went on to show powerful examples of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and the private sector and how their innovative tools like microfinancing, education and healthcare play a crucial role in breaking the circle of poverty.

Afreed Mistry from Toronto, presented examples of how India’s largest private sector bank, ICICI, has contributed to alleviating poverty by providing small loans to the rural women, empowering them to lift themselves out of poverty. The women who participated in these projects, gained self-confidence and were able to mobilize their communities to participate in other areas of their lives.  Afreed went on to talk about about Education being cruical for children in rural villages and gave examples of Akshaya Patra, an NGO that is partnering with the Government of India in implementing a food program which provides a mid-day meal for school children. She also talked about Ashta-No-Kai’s bicycle program, in rural Maharashtra, which has helped girls to transport themselves to high schools that are far away so that they can continue with higher studies.

Tanya Bharda, who is pursuing Women’s Studies at University of Toronto, continued the discussion on the importance of education by speaking from her experiences with NGOs in India. Tanya addressed issues that the Indian girls are facing with parents being a barrier for not allowing girls to attend schools, lack of encouragement for educating girls, the need for girls to interact with each other to learn more about life and health issues and the lack of technology and finance.  She explained solutions to all these issues from the NGOs she had personal experiences with.

Mani Rao, a health consultant from Chicago, covered the health challenges of malnutrition, teenage pregnancy, infertility and lack of health education faced by women, children and infants in Kharel, Gujarat. She spoke about Gram Seva Trust and the work they are doing to offer women health educational programs, antenatal and prenatal care and she also handed out a pamphlet to the attendees with the formula for a high protein energy powder made from local ingredients for malnourished women and children which only costs $3 per month per child.

Rayomond Dinshaw, a Law student from Queen’s University, Ontario, Canada did a great job of putting together the panelists’ presentations.  He also attended a panel session on International Women’s Day where the speakers were UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, and former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  You can also read about Rayomond’s CSW experience in upcoming FEZANA publications.

About FEZANA UN-NGO Committee
The FEZANA UN-NGO Committee is always looking for participants to join the committee. CSW59/Beijing+20 (2015) at United Nations Headquarters in New York, is tentatively scheduled for March 9 – 20, 2015 – See more at: http://www.unwomen.org/en/csw/csw59-2015

If you are interested in being a part of a great team, please send an email with your resume and letter of intent to ALL 3 of the following individuals:

Homi D. Gandhi (homidgandhi (@) gmail.com)
Behram Pastakia (bpastakia (@) aol.com)
Afreed Mistry (afreed.mistry (@) gmail.com)

FEZANA, as an NGO in consultative status with the Economic and Social Council and with the Department of Public information of the UN will register selected participants to facilitate access to meetings, discussions groups and conferences, but will not provide financial support.  All attendees are expected to make their own arrangements for visas, tickets, accommodation, food and transportation in the city.



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