Event spotlight: Caritas Australia’s Women for the World 2019

Caritas Australia

Caritas Australia’s Women for the World premium events were held across Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra in September. These special events help to fund programs that empower women around the world to bring positive change to their families and communities.

Caritas Australia’s Community Fundraising Lead Kerryn Benbow spoke to us about this year’s events.

Can you tell us about the history of the Women for the World movement?

Women for the World is a movement that grew out of grassroots communities around the country who supported the work of Caritas Australia, which is the international aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in Australia. 

Initially, a few generous women, who saw the injustices that vulnerable women face globally, got together to raise money by hosting lunches. Their aim was to directly change the lives of these women, whose social and socio-economic status had not afforded them the opportunities which many in Australia enjoy. From these initial acts of kindness, a movement grew!

Over the last five years, over 5,000 passionate women have gathered together across Australia to help raise over $500,000 for Caritas Australia’s development programs. Along with raising vital funds and awareness, these events celebrate the resilience of the most disadvantaged women and help to inspire independence. They also recognise their capacity to become drivers of change and leaders in their communities.

Ms Mungreiphy Shimray, an international leader in social development, was the guest speaker at this year’s Women for the World events. Can you tell us about her and what she spoke about?

Mungreiphy Shimray, or Shimray, as she prefers to be called, is an inspiring international leader in social development, gender and anti-human trafficking. She has two decades of experience advocating for women’s and girls’ rights in her role at Caritas India, as a true Woman for the World herself!

Shimray had risen from one of the most marginalised social groups in India to having widely travelled across her vast nation, and further abroad, to create grassroots change for disadvantaged women and girls.

Growing up in Manipoor in North-East India, Shimray was always exposed to the gender disparity that dominates her society.

She told me, “In India, we divide the property in such a way that boys take the lion’s share. It seemed unfair to me and I asked myself, how is it that I’m not entitled to what others receive in the family?”

The seeds of inequality were sown at a young age for Shimray, and her passion for women’s rights has led her to gain extensive hands-on experience in gender-based program development, execution, monitoring and evaluation.

She has a Master’s Degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology, with a Gold Medal from Manipur University in India, a UGC-NET Junior Research Fellowship allowing her to teach in Indian Universities and PG Diploma in Community Development from Dublin University, Ireland.

From over 20 years of experience working at Caritas India, Shimray has acquired special expertise in anti-human trafficking and gender programs, which address unsafe migration across Asia for girls and women of all ages.

Throughout her career she has witnessed the vulnerability of poor communities, especially girls, to the threat of human trafficking and works with partners and civil society to rescue as many victims as possible. The young women she saves are often between 16 and 25 years old.

Currently, she is tackling the issues of gender, migration and child rights in rural India, within the community-led Governance and Development program. It supports the establishment of women’s self-help groups, enabling them to strengthen their capacity to act on issues that directly affect their lives.

Shimray said, “Our intention on working in women and gender is to improve human relations, to work for more respect and value for everyone. It’s all about protecting the dignity of women and young girls.”

At Women for the World, Shimray was a strong, clear voice, inspiring us to stand in solidarity with her, whilst amplifying the voices of marginalised women everywhere.

What were some of the key themes and takeaways explored at this year’s Women for the World events?

Throughout Women for the World this year we celebrated the women who inspire and uplift us, who have strength and courage, and who are learners and leaders in their vulnerable communities around the globe.

We stood in solidarity with these women, and listened to their stories of hope, courage and determination. Through these stories we learnt that we can, as individuals and as a group, make positive and lasting change in the lives of so many women, and as a result, uplift entire communities.

Were there any personal highlights from this year’s Women for the World?

I loved watching Shimray meet so many supportive Australian women. She was overwhelmed at the generosity of heart that was extended to her and felt embraced by the Australian community. 

She was amazed that people welcomed her into their homes. Some took her to see Australian animals, or significant landmarks, and some shared family meals with her. She was very impressed, and humbled, that people opened up like that so she could have a true Australian experience. It’s a very different way of life to what she is accustomed to. 

She also commented on the standing of women in Australian society, compared to her own country, and the vulnerable women she meets every day.  This juxtaposition really fascinated her – she was amazed that strong, independent, Australian women would care about her and other women living in poverty on the other side of the world. She didn’t realise that they would have such an interest and be so supportive.

How does CCI Personal Insurance’s contribution help support Women for the World?

Women for the World would not happen without the generous support of CCI.

Through their sponsorship, CCI are supporting Caritas Australia’s aid and development programs around the world, lifting individuals and communities out of poverty. The support of CCI ensures we can continue to help vulnerable communities to become agents of their own change, leading to lasting and sustainable outcomes. The programs supported by CCI save lives and uplift entire communities.

We are proud of our partnership with CCI and their continued support of Women for the World means we can continue to walk alongside women, children and families in need, globally. 

All of us at Caritas Australia and the women who support the Women for the World movement would like to extend a big thank you to CCI and its customers, for supporting those who need it the most.


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