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The Women’s Collective of South Africa: Empowering Vaishnavis and Cultivating a Supportive Community
By Atma Tattva Das, ISKCON News Staff Writer   |  Май 26, 2023

In a dynamic effort to strengthen and support women within the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), The Women’s Collective – South Africa has emerged as a platform for empowerment, conversation, and sisterhood. Led by the dedicated Rasasthali Dasi, this independent platform for devotees aims to facilitate personal connections, provide support, and create a space where women can thrive in their spiritual journeys.

Rasasthali Dasi, editor for Hare Krishna News, co-director and manager of the Bhakti Theater, as well as brand and social media manager at ISKCON Durban – Sri Sri Radha Radhanath Temple, has been instrumental in fostering a vibrant community for women in the ISKCON South Africa yatra. With her wealth of experience and passion for the protection and support of women, Rasasthali has played a pivotal role in developing The Women’s Collective.

The collective began three years ago when Mathura Mandala, the visionary behind the Women’s Collective, invited Rasasthali to join a group to connect South African Vaishnavi devotees. Their initial goal was to stimulate a sense of sisterhood, encouraging women to serve together and support one another by appreciating their person first. Through initiatives like the “How I Met My Sisters” series, which featured interviews with Vaishnavis from South Africa and worldwide, the collective provided a platform for women to share their experiences and talents. “This series was really extraordinary because the idea behind it was – if you’re part of the South African yatra and consider yourself an ordinary Vaishnavi, know that you have a voice and you have a story, and we want to know you,” explained Rasasthali.

Rasasthali Dasi shares her journey and highlights the importance of supporting women in ISKCON

One of the primary objectives of The Women’s Collective is to ensure that women are properly facilitated within ISKCON and that their voices are heard. Rasasthali emphasizes the importance of protection and guidance for women of all ages within the movement. The collective also aims to create a supportive environment where women can embrace their unique talents, aspirations, and spiritual paths, without conforming to rigid expectations.

While The Women’s Collective is an independent group, Rasasthali acknowledges the need for broader involvement from the ISKCON community, including men. The collective believes that supporting women is not solely the responsibility of women themselves but requires the participation and understanding of all devotees. By reading books like “The Emergence of Women’s Voices in ISKCON,” which highlights the historical treatment and experiences of women within the movement, the collective society has gained a deeper appreciation for the challenges faced by women and has become active supporters of their empowerment.

Despite the collective’s aspirations for formal training and development programs, they need more volunteers and resources. However, they remain open to facilitating such initiatives if individuals desire to lead them. The Women’s Collective recognizes the importance of training and preparing women for any service within ISKCON and aims to provide a supportive network that nurtures their growth.

The collective’s ultimate goal is to ensure the happiness and well-being of women in society. By celebrating individuality and promoting a sense of belonging, The Women’s Collective aims to create an environment where women can flourish and contribute to the Krishna consciousness movement in their unique ways. 

The Women’s Collective – South Africa serves as a reminder that women’s empowerment is not about fighting or asserting dominance but rather about creating a space where women can thrive and make meaningful contributions to their communities. By acknowledging the challenges faced by women and advocating for their rights, The Women’s Collective seeks to build a more inclusive and equitable society within ISKCON South Africa.

As the collective continues to grow and evolve, it is hoped that their efforts will inspire positive change and encourage a deeper understanding and appreciation of women’s invaluable role in the Krishna consciousness movement. The Women’s Collective – South Africa is a testament to the power of unity, support, and love in nurturing Vaishnavi devotees’ spiritual growth and well-being.

You can learn more about this initiative by following them on their Facebook и Инстаграм pages. 

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