Indian woman to address Voices of Faith in Vatican

Vatican City (Matters India): Astrid Lobo Gajiwala from Mumbai in India is taking part at an event taking place on Sunday March 8 within Vatican walls to mark International Women’s Day.

She’s among the speakers at this Vatican event entitled ‘Voices of Faith’ which brings together a group of remarkable women from across the world, to share their personal stories and exchange ideas from a woman’s perspective in an effort to build a better future.

The initiative spearheaded by Chantal Gӧtz of the Fidel Gӧtz Foundation also sponsored by ‘Caritas Internationalis’ and the ‘Jesuit Refugee Service’ picks up on the words of Pope Francis: “It is necessary to broaden the space within the church for a more incisive feminine presence.”

But getting back to Dr. Astrid Lobo, she’s a Catholic married to a Hindu, mother of three and scientist by profession. As soon as she arrived in Rome, so ahead of the ‘Voices of Faith ‘ event, Veronica Scarisbrick invited her to Vatican Radio’s studios to find out more about the work she has undertaken over the years in the drawing up of gender policies in the context of the Indian Church.

She explains how since 1992 she has worked with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in relation to issues focusing on the empowerment of women in Church and society. However she’s careful to specify she did so as a member of a team of consultants and highlights how the outcome of this effort over the years developed into the acceptance on the part of the bishops to opt for a gender policy.

A result Dr Lobo describes as a success story in terms of women’s work in partnership within the Church but nevertheless one difficult to implement for it relates in a special way to under privileged women in areas of interest as varied as health, education and violence against women.

Asked if there are issues in the document that are especially meaningful to her Dr. Lobo comments as to how the language of the document is really quite radical, expressions used are for example discipleship of equals, a collaborative church with gender justice, zero tolerance to violence against women.

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