Despite extensive legislation protecting women and girls, India is the fourth most dangerous country in which to be female. Secrecy and shame shroud the country’s endemic sexual violence and most people stay silent. But not Rev Moumita Biswas.
Recently ordained into the Church of North India, she lives in Nagpur, India. Molested as a child and abused during her marriage, Moumita describes herself as a wounded healer who has been strengthened by her faith to transform her pain into action.
She supports the most vulnerable women in micro-entrepreneurship projects, giving them the confidence and resources to further their education.
But empowering women alone will not solve the problem. Through campaigning, teaching and biblical reflection at the Asian School for Ecumenical Formation for Gender Justice, Moumita trains church leaders, both men and women, side by side.
It is essential that women learn financial independence to alleviate the poverty that can fuel gender-based violence.
- Rev Moumita Biswas.
At a local community support group in Glasgow and later at the UN, Tricia McConalogue MBE was given the opportunity to speak out about deprivation. She had little academic education but a wealth of knowledge of how it felt to be trapped by biting poverty.
Drawing on her own dizzying experiences of grief, relationship breakdown and life on the breadline, Tricia has harnessed the power of her story to create a space where people from diverse backgrounds and situations can be heard.
She is now Director of Bridging the Gap, an ecumenical anti-poverty organisation based in the Gorbals.
There, as well as providing practical support, she works to ensure that men and women living in poverty are respected and listened to. Tricia supports people out of poverty not just for their financial benefit, but to help them feel that they matter. This collaborative way of working builds strong community ties and improves people’s mental health and well-being.
Women, particularly mothers, are affected differently by poverty. I know mums who have gone without food to feed their children. They are the ones who carry the burden of their circumstances.
- Tricia McConalogue MBE.