World Human Rights Day: Human Rights and Living Rights Discussed in Rishikesh

The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) and Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh spent the auspicious occasion of Human Rights Day with faith leaders, scholars, academicians, and artists from across different sections of society discussing how gender equality alongside environmental preservation must go hand in hand. This dialogue, that took place in Parmarth’s Satsang Garden included discussion of how addressing gender inequalities, gender based violence and related issues like child marriage were key to a sustainable, balanced and healthy society.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Dr. Sadhvi Bhagwati Saraswati, Secretary General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Goswami Sushil Ji Maharaj, National Convener of All Religion Parliament of India, President, Delhi Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Sardar Paramjit Chandok, Director Brahma Kumaris Delhi, Rajyogini BK Sapna Didi alongside members of civil society organisations, educationists and scholars joined together for these discussions (see full complete list below).

Eighty four percent of the world’s population subscribe to a faith and in India this is a larger percentage. Hence, faith leaders and faith based organisations have a large role to play in behaviour change and changing societies mindsets. Hence the dialogue with faith leaders today included what are the key stereotypes and inequalities that women face and how true human rights and sustainable development goals must be led by women. It looked at scriptural references and stories that show examples of women empowerment and gender equality in faith tradition. It was discussed that GIWA would soon be releasing a toolkit in Hindi and English for Gender Equality and another one for Climate Action.

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati shared, “Gender Equality not just affects women and girls who represent half our population but really the entire society because it is this half that is responsible for the other half of the population…Religion and faith have an important and powerful role in removing this gap of gender inequality from society. Both men and women are the basic pillars of the society, yet in many places women still are discriminated, oppressed and subject to violence. Gender equality is key to unity and as our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji has declared from the ramparts of Red Fort on 15th August that Nari Shakti is pivotal in the Amrit Kaal of Bharat.”

Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawatiji shared, “It is such a beautiful beginning and there is so much work to be done. In our scriptures and in the Indian culture Nari, Shakti is the same divine feminine that is represented in the form of women and girls and it’s the same energy represented in the form of Mother Earth or Prakriti and the same energy that is referred to as Sanskriti or our spiritual cultural heritage. Hence as faith leaders we must come together for Shakti, Prakriti and Sanskriti and when we do so then we take care of the core of all human rights as well as all living rights.”

Women constitute almost half of the total population of the world, and for this reason, the widespread and far-reaching effects of gender discrimination are visible at every level of the society, so it is necessary that by bringing all religions and religious organizations on one platform, the social evils prevailing in the society can be terminated.

Participant list also included:

·         Akhil Dharma Sansad Bharat, Geeta Kathpalia Ahuja ji,

·         President-Draupadi Dream Trust, writer, Prof. Folk speaker Mrs. Neera Mishra,

·         Founder of Rescue Foundation, Triveni Acharya,

·         Professor Punjab University of Gender Studies, Dr. Kanchan Chandan,

·         Professor of Folk Dance, Producer of dance dramas for social awareness, Professor Prodyut Dutta,

·         Screenwriter & Scholar Mr. Mahesh Prasad Jaiswal,

·         Secretary, Gurudwara Bangla Sahib Jaspreet Kaur,

·         Director of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance Ganga Nandini and many scholars were present.