SINGAPORE - About 40 women came together to celebrate this year's International Women's Day (IWD) on Mar 11 at Church of St. Bernadette's Parish Hall. Organized by the Institute for World Evangelisation (ICPE), the event gave participants an insight into what it means to be "Called and Chosen", this year's theme.

ICPE is an international, Catholic lay mission committed to world evangelization. Its Woman to Woman (W2W) Ministry promotes the dignity and vocation of women.

The United Nations' focus this year is "Ending Impunity for Violence Against Women and Girls". Esther Fong from ICPE reminded all present how prevalent the problem is worldwide. According to a UN study on women: "At least one out of every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime." And this was usually by someone she knew.

ICPE's missionary community in Singapore was started in 2003 with blessings from Archbishop Nicholas Chia.

Keynote speaker Jacinta Phoon gave the local perspective. There is a rise in the number of reported violence against young girls. She shared how abuse impacts the way girls think of themselves: Exposed to multiple forms of abuse, victims found it hard to trust others and acted out in negative ways.

Two women shared testimonies of how they had experienced abuse in their lives and how God's grace touched their lives. Each woman present was then reminded that she was called and chosen to make a difference in the world by living her life in accordance to God's will.

"In understanding God's will for us and knowing we are called and chosen by him, we will have his strength to stand against the violence, be it physical, emotional or psychological, faced in our lives and to help other women unable to help themselves," explained Amilia Chai, the contact person for W2W Ministry in Singapore.

The ministry also organizes some programmes in Singapore and the Philippines for participants who have expressed interest to do outreach work. The vision of participants is to promote the dignity and identity of women so they can become catalysts in "building a culture of life and a civilization of love".

Pat Lim, one of the attendees, said, "I am now clear that He is calling me to be in the ministry, and I am thankful that God has chosen me to be a precious daughter of his".

Visit www.icpe.org for more information on ICPE.

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