for ISKCON News on June 27, 2013
BRUSSELS, Belgium – The crowd was mixed unexpectedly with both women, and men, from different socio-economic backgrounds, religions, and political beliefs - yet for a single night everyone shared a common cause of ending abuse to women through the lens of women’s roles within religious texts and living traditions.
The Belgian Women of Faith Network (BWFN) and Religions for Peace (RFP) Women's Assembly June 17th , was an invitation only event, hosted by RFP President Ms Yolande Iliano.
Speakers from the UN Women Brussels organization, the Pastor of the Protestant Church of Brussels, and a member from Council of Theologians of the Muslim Executive Belgium were some of the speakers lined up. Although the event was spoken in French, many of their points could be understood in any language, as they made strong pleas to the audience for ending such abuse – now.
Brussels Town Hall, the venue of the event
The City of Brussels Alderman of Cults, Mr. Alain Courtois, made the point that “women are the center of family, why not in a spiritual way?” adding that women are vital for life and necessary for society to live in peace.
Others like Mrs. Dagmar Schumacher Director of the UN Women Brussels organization stated that it is the responsibility of society to take care of the women and children, and change the present conditions.
Host Yolande Illiano RFP President
The event was indeed very somber, with speakers from religious traditions speaking outright about their own internal problems that must be addressed as well as everyone’s (even in the room) role in the abuse of women. But the entire temperament transformed once the all-women’s choir performance, Anakrouze, began. The choir, possibly inadvertently, showcased the dynamic and layered roles and personalities of women from around the world: singing songs of far-off lands, cultures and languages, and bringing the audience with them through all the emotions and triumphs of all of those women. The evening was finished with light snacks and drinks in the beautiful room extension of the Brussels Town hall.
Speaker Alian Courtois
RFP Belgium is part of a broader organization internationally and has been in existence since 1970. Its mission is to bring together a multi-religious coalition towards peace, including special topics and issues. The Europe chapter of RFP is a group of all Religions for Peace bodies in Europe, including 45 senior religious leaders across Europe.
The entire evening, highlighted with the performance, brought home the point of being a woman should be truly a celebration, and it was very appreciated by all who witnessed it.