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A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada

ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry at UN’s CSW68 Event
By Kulavati Krishnapriya Devi Dasi, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Mar 30, 2024
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ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry’s delegation of devotees at UN event.

The 68th Annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68), the United Nations’ (UN) largest annual gathering on gender equality and women’s empowerment, took place this year from March 11-22, 2024. The event’s focus was “accelerating the achievement of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls by addressing poverty and strengthening institutions and financing with a gender perspective.”

The delegation of devotees who represented ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry at the event included Rukmini Walker, founder of Urban Devi; Ineke Zondag, Food For Life Vrindavan Sandipani Gurukul School; Govinda Priya Devi Dasi (Gayatri Khanna), ISKCON Vaishnavi Minister North America; Krsange Radhe, ISKCON Vaishnavi Minister South Africa; Tiffany Cooper, Yoga trainer and women support at Pennsylvania Bhakti Center; Ila, a 15-year-old dynamic devotee supporting media and rapporteur; and Raasbhakti Devi Dasi (Dr. Aditi Mishal), Coordinator ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry at UN CSW.

Last year, it was decided that ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry, headed by Radha Dasi, would be represented at the UN every year. “The UN, hosting representatives from 192 member states, serves as an important platform where crucial policy frameworks evolve from international conventions. Upon my debut last year at the UN representing ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry, I discerned a plethora of commendable endeavors within our fold that, regrettably, remained unacknowledged or absent from such pivotal forums,” said Raasbhakti Devi Dasi. 

Diverse parallel events also took place, offering perspectives and collaborative avenues for change. Convened by member states and NGOs alike, these side events afforded platforms to amplify innovations and confront pressing issues. 

One such parallel event held online on March 16th entitled “Weaving Empowerment” was skillfully moderated by Govinda Priya Devi Dasi. She adeptly steered discussions among esteemed speakers, including Raasbhakti Devi Dasi (Dr. Aditi Mishal), a certified Sustainability Professional and Director at the Centre for Sustainability, ATLAS SkillTech University. Also present was Sri Radha Govinda Dasi (Srilakshmi Oppecini), the Director and founder of the “Village of Love” NGO for women and children who brought multifaceted expertise to the table, being a personality analyst (MBTI, Enneagram, Human Design), Vedic Astrologer, and Palm analyst.

Ineke Zondag, renowned as the leader of Food For Life Vrindavan (FFLV), shared her insights as well. The event also featured Saumya Aggarwal, the visionary founder of Barefoot Edu, and Shikha Trivedi Singh, who has held the esteemed position of Co-Founder and Managing Partner at RNT Consultancy Services since 2016.

Shaliza Taneja, a celebrated writer and poet recognized by the UN and founder of Creative Expression, added to the richness of perspectives. Lastly, Priya Samant, the CEO, and Co-Founder of the AI tech startup Abris.io, offered valuable insights into the technological landscape.

Together, these speakers brought a wealth of experience and expertise to the event, enriching discussions on empowerment across various domains.

The ISKCON initiative at CSW68 exemplified the organization’s commitment to collaborative action and advocacy for gender equality worldwide. Raasbhakti said, “When we come from the devotee background, we are not typically looking at women empowerment as a women’s liberation program or something. But there is a lot that we can collaborate with the fellow NGO institutions and the other governmental institutions to bring in good work.”

She continued, “For instance, initiatives like the Skills Center at Govardhan Eco Village epitomize our commitment to gender-neutral skill development, catering equitably to rural youth. Similarly, the Sandipani Gurukul in Vrindavan, overseen by Ineke under the aegis of Food for Life Vrindavan, exemplifies targeted interventions for girls’ education and protection from systemic injustices like child marriage.”

Ineke Zondag with Rukmini Walker at event; Some of Vaishnavi participants.

Sri Radha Govinda Dasi shared her experience, “The UN event served as a powerful reminder for me of the need to recognize the presence of Krishna for a more harmonious world. My Guru Maharaj HH Jayapataka Swami Maharaj instructed me regarding NGO involvement to engage people in devotional service. I believe that by infusing our work with spiritual values, we can strive for a socially just and spiritually connected society.”

She continued, “Being a panel speaker at the UN event was both humbling and inspiring. It highlighted the importance of integrating spirituality into our work and bringing Krishna into the conversation. Together, we can strive for a world that acknowledges the divine presence, guiding us towards lasting transformation and harmony instead of just trying for the kingdom of God without the Lord.”

Another notable parallel event, attended by Rukmini Walker, focused on halting wars initiated by men, which disproportionately affect women and children. Her involvement led to the formation of a geopolitical alliance advocating for war cessation, shedding light on the plight of the most vulnerable. A Ukrainian NGO discourse on conflict resolution underscores the imperative of women’s voices in peacebuilding efforts.

She said, “I met the President of the Geopolitical Alliance of Women whose intention is to get women’s voices in the public square to defend the rights of women against war and poverty, coming from all different sectors of the world. It was wonderful to meet her.”

Ineka Zondag said, “It’s disturbing to hear that gender equality has reversed in the last few years. The Secretary General of the United Nations encouraged and empowered us to raise our voices because it is not acceptable.”

ISKCON Vaishnavi Ministry’s participation in the UN’s 68th annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW68) signifies its unwavering commitment to gender equality and empowerment. To follow the ministry’s ongoing service, visit its website and follow it on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. To learn more about the UN event, visit its website

Tag: iskcon , un , vaishnavi , women
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