Indian women in New Zealand are not passive observers or mere housewives but active leaders in businesses, communities and government organisations.
Many of our women have made us proud as a community, society and country with their success in many professions.
However, a large number of them still remain in the shadow, suffer family violence, discrimination at work and exclusion from the society.
The situation should change and women themselves can orchestrate such a change through positive thoughts, behaviour, habits, values and action.
The above were views expressed at a conference organised by the Women’s Group of the New Zealand Indian Central Association at Rydges Hotel in Rotorua on April 6.
The one-day event, held under the theme, ‘Just Do It,’ also marked the tenth anniversary of the Committee, with workshops and group sessions.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Group Chairperson Ranjna Patel said that women must challenge every form of violence or inequality.
She said that women face glass ceilings that appear impossible to break and intimidation that seem difficult to overcome.
“We have the power to usher in changes for the better and we must realise that women are the drivers of growth and social inclusion. Some women have had the right opportunity, some have worked hard, and some have had good support. But all of us must work together to shatter that glass ceiling,” she said.
A corporate (Director, East Tamaki Healthcare and Bank of Baroda) and community leader (Member of the Executive Committee and former President of Manukau Indian Association) and a member of a number of governing bodies, Ms Patel is aware of the issues and challenges confronting women in the Indian community.
She is among those who champion the cause of reform, which she believes should commence within the minds of women.
“Mothers and housewives are the only workers who do not have regular time off. They are the great vacation-less class. We must think of those we cherish in our families and communities and understand that there is a statistical likelihood that many of them have suffered violence in their lifetime, she said.
She quoted Polish author Joseph Conrad as saying, “Being a woman is a terribly difficult task, since it consists principally in dealing with men.”
Ethnic Affairs Minister Judith Collins was the keynote speaker at the inaugural session of the conference, a report on which appears in this Section.