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Over 400 women from across the Southeast came together for the BAPS Women’s Conference 2010.
The three-hour conference was held in celebration of International Women’s Day (IWD) and was hosted by the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha held at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Lilburn. IWD is a global event commemorated by the United Nations to recognize women and the important contributions they have made in the world. BAPS is a current member of the UN’s Economic and Social Council.
The theme of the conference, “Nurturing Families, Shaping Communities,” provided a forum for attendees to discuss the educational and environmental impact created by the global community of women through their roles in family and society. The theme draws inspiration from BAPS’ core values of nurturing individuals and creating stronger families. The various keynote speakers each stressed one of these topics.
Dr. Geeta Verma of Georgia State University addressed the topic of education.
“It is important to understand that in families, if girls don’t receive advocacy, the door to education is never opened,” Dr. Verma said.
Ms. Susan Richardson, a partner with the Atlanta-based law firm Kilpatrick Stockton, spoke on the importance of protecting the environment, citing examples from her experiences as an attorney.
Speaking on the necessity of maintaining a healthy lifestyle was Dr. Gulshan Harjee.
“We should be involved parents,” she said. “I’m always amazed at the women of the BAPS mandir and their ability to do things independently. You all have a really strong value system.”
The final speech of the evening was by Mrs. Soniya Patel on the impact women have via their role in the family unit. Ms. Patel, the first blind teacher hired in the state of Tennessee, has been teaching music for over 12 years.
“We live in a free society and in a country where the sky is the limit,” Mrs. Patel said. “We have the power to change our community, our family, and ourselves both socially and spiritually.”
Anisha Desai of Atlanta was particularly impressed by this speech.
“I really enjoyed Soniya Patel’s presentation,” she stated. “I consider her a hero, not because she is blind, but also shows that anything is possible.”
Dr. Hetal Patel concluded with remarks on the growth of BAPS in the past 100 years. Attendees left inspired and empowered, ready to implement the message of the conference in their own lives.