The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India in its biannual meeting in Pune in 1992,
the bishops of the country deliberated on various issues concerning women thereby
arriving at ways of addressing them. In their concluding statement the bishops said:
“Discrimination against women seems to be embedded in the structure of our society….
Violence against women sometimes starts from the very moment of conception of the
girl child and is experienced by them at all the stages of their life. Violence
that is physical, sexual and psychological and practiced against women is the result
of inhuman and unchristian attitudes. With a sense of sorrow we must admit that
women feel discriminated even in the church.”
A Desk for Women, under the CBCI Commission for Laity was etablished. Sr. Cleopatra,
the President of the Conference of Religious of India (Women’s Section) was appointed
as the first Secretary to represent the concerns of all women of the church in India.
The Desk was meant to serve as a catalyst for promoting and supporting all initiatives/women’s
associations that aim at empowerment of women. Sr. Cleopatra began her work in Delhi
at the CBCI Centre on 1 June 1992.
The statement was followed by a call for a plan of action in each Region that would
foster respect, human dignity irrespective of sex, promote the rights of women in
the home, in the Church and in society, and ensure adequate representation of women
in decision-making bodies of the Church. Priests and religious were exhorted to
stress this equality in their own attitudes and practice, in their homilies, in
their visits to families and in their respectful collaboration with women religious
in the mission of the Church. At the CBCI meeting of February 1996, the Women’s
Desk was granted the status of a Commission of the CBCI.
Flowing from the vision of Jesus Christ, the Champion of the anawim, the oppressed,
exploited and marginalized of society, and inspired by his love that makes no distinction
between male and female, the Catholic church in India is committed to building a
world where all human persons are free to grow in the image and likeness of God.
- To deepen among women and men a sense of their dignity as human beings created in
the image and likeness of God (Gen 1: 26-27).
- To stimulate reflection in the Church on its mission to form a discipleship of equals.
- To contribute to the process of creating a gender just church and society with a
special focus on the marginalized. (Luke 4:18-19)
- To make space for spirituality that is shaped by women’s life experiences and creative
expression. (Mark 14: 3-9)
- To facilitate change in the mindsets of women and men so that they relate to each
other with respect and dignity.
- To ensure fulfillment of the human rights of women especially of the marginalized
- To ensure that all Church ministries, policies, structures, procedures and programs
are gender sensitive and gender balanced.
- To make provisions for adequate human and material resources to achieve the objectives.
- Organizing meetings and seminars on the need and importance of women’s group in
- Publication of material on the occasion of International Women’s Day 8 March, Girl
Child Day 8th September and Anti Violence Day 25th November.
- Providing direction to women involving in development activities.
- Linking with Women’s Commission at State and National level of the Government of
- Promoting network with Women Commission of other Church denominations.
- Efforts have been made to network with Women Commissions of other countries.
- Promoting a spirituality based on women’s experiences.
- Promoting collaboration between Women Office, Caritas India Gender Department and
other likeminded Organizations.
- The Commission celebrates Women’s Day, Girl Child Day and Anti Violence Day.