On March 24, 2023, Darpan Magazine hosted the inaugural Darpan Power Women of Influence 2023 at the breathtaking venue of Vancouver Convention Centre, presented by RBC and powered by Thind Properties and Crystal Consulting Group of Companies. The first-ever celebration of its kind to be held in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland, the unique evening was an exceptional celebration of women's empowerment.
Located on the gorgeous Vancouver waterfront with a dramatic mountain backdrop, the magical evening began with a red-carpet reception. Over 500 guests were greeted with a flurry of cameras, flashing lights and a sense of excitement—attendees arriving in stunning outfits, reflecting the spirit of the occasion. On the red carpet, a live media station interviewed esteemed guests, asking them their expectations for the evening; photographers were busy capturing beautiful moments, and music performances set the stage for the night ahead.
The red carpet was truly buzzing with prominent members of the South Asian community, political dignitaries, and socialites. Celebrities, business leaders, and social activists graced the evening, sharing their experiences, insights, and inspirations.
The beautiful cocktail lounge had guests mingling and enjoying the hospitality. Spotted at the venue were prominent political guests like the Lieutenant Governor of BC-The Honourable Janet Austin, First Ever South Asian Speaker of the House, Raj Chauhan, Minister of Jobs, and MLA for Delta North, Ravi Kahlon, MLA for Surrey-Panorama, Jinny Sims, MLA for South Surrey, Elenore Sturko, and the First South Asian BC Supreme Court Judge and Former Attorney General, Wally Oppal, among others.
Canadian actor and television personality Huse Madhavji was the Master of Ceremonies for the night. This multi-talented host, actor and producer is the former face of Star! Canada and has starred in HBO Canada/Direct-TV's hit comedy Call Me Fitz starring Jason Priestly, where he received his first Gemini nomination and NBC/CTV hospital drama Saving Hope. Madhavji kicked off the festivities by introducing the opening entertainment act, which was a fitting tribute to the spirit of the occasion. Local talent enthusiastically hit the stage as guests sipped on a selection of fine wines. Energizing and talented artists Shivangi Bhayana and Parv Sandhar put on a performance that captivated the audience and set the stage for the inspiring speeches that followed.
Her Honor-Lieutenant Governor of BC-The Honorable Janet Austin, graced the occasion with her presence and addressed the audience, appreciating the intention behind the first-ever Darpan Power Women of Influence. Martin Thibodeau, Regional President, BC, at RBC, also shared his valuable words with audiences, lifting the spirits of all those present. Anita Anand, the Minister of National Defence of Canada, congratulated the team and shared her excitement through a video message.
The highlight of the evening was a panel discussion segment called Darpan Power Talk featuring accomplished women leaders from diverse fields, including journalism, business, politics, arts, and activism. Seasoned journalist, anchor/reporter with Global National, Neetu Garcha moderated the discussion. Before the panel, Garcha welcomed on stage the panelists, who, one by one, shared their individual stories and journeys.
The first Darpan PowerTalk speaker, host of CBC Vancouver News' flagship supper hour program, the amazing Anita Bathe, shared the importance of women dreaming big and working towards their passions with dedication, no matter how far-fetched they may initially seem to be.
The motivational Devinder Gill, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, British Columbia, at RBC, reminded women that they have the power to shatter glass ceilings and make their mark in the corporate world.
MLA for Vancouver-Hastings and Attorney General, The Honourable Niki Sharma, expressed in her Darpan PowerTalk that women are indeed capable and empowered to take on leadership and decision-making roles that may otherwise be arguably viewed as male-dominated positions.
Actress, entrepreneur and winner of the Miss Universe 2000 pageant, the accomplished Lara Dutta Bhupathi, shared how women can use their talent to create magic in the arts field and strong-headedly tackle all challenges that fame may bring.
The final Darpan PowerTalk of the evening came from inspiring activist, founder, and executive director of the women-led NGO Afghan Institute of Learning, Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who shone a light on women having the power to inspire and uplift each other through social work in today's global era.
Following the Darpan PowerTalks came the main event of the night, which was the panel discussion featuring the aforementioned diverse group of influential women who shared their experiences and insights on how to empower women in the workplace and society. The power-packed panel included the following:
➔ Anita Bathe, Host, CBC Vancouver
➔ Devinder Gill, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, BC, RBC
➔ The Honourable Niki Sharma, MLA for Vancouver-Hastings and Attorney General
➔ Lara Dutta Bhupathi, Actress, Entrepreneur, and Miss Universe 2000
➔ Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Activist, Founder and Executive Director Afghan Institute of Learning
Garcha posed thought-provoking questions to the panelists, resulting in an engaging and stimulating conversation. The discussion was beyond inspiring, as panelists shared their journeys and offered practical advice on supporting women in achieving their goals.
Panelists encouraged women to support one another and discussed strategies to deal with power structures within organizations, sharing their advice with young women entering their respective professions. As the evening had a diverse and balanced audience, the panelists also addressed how men can help empower women and become allies, alongside the work needed to be done to engage and inspire male advocates.
Further, panelists revealed how getting caught up in accepting the status quo and not challenging old, outdated perceptions, particularly regarding views about women, can be a hindrance. They shared ideas on breaking new ground and challenging the mindset of those who try to minimize women's power. Having discussed various issues keeping women from reaching their full potential, as Power Women of Influence, panelists offered their insight on what society can do to tackle such issues and take women's empowerment to new heights.
Overall, the panelists delivered powerful messages of empowerment and highlighted the achievements of women in various fields, reminding everyone present that women have the power to change the world. The panelists shared their personal stories, the challenges they faced, and how they overcame them to achieve their goals, shining light on their experiences in breaking barriers and stereotypes, the importance of diversity and inclusivity, and how to create a more equitable society. By learning about women who have made a significant impact in various fields, attendees were evidently inspired to take action in their own lives.
The evening culminated with a sumptuous and hearty dinner, and guests were treated to an exquisite meal, including a lavish collection of desserts. As the night wore on, the dance floor heated up, and guests danced the night away to the melodious voices of Shivangi Bhayana and Parv Sandhar.
"We are humbled to have hosted the first ever Darpan Power Women of Influence 2023, an opportunity to celebrate the incredible achievements of women and women empowerment. Our gratitude goes out to the community for making the night a grand success, and we look forward to partnering and collaborating with the community to continue recognizing the potential of women in all walks of life!" shared Gurvinder Hundal and Ramneek Dhillon, respectively Founder and President of Darpan Magazine.
Attendees' Reactions to the Event
"Tonight was dedicated to celebrating the strength, resiliency and exuberance of some impressive and highly accomplished South Asian females –and what an evening it was! It was an absolute honour for RBC to be the presenting sponsor of the 2023 Darpan Magazine Power Women of Influence Gala..." –Martin Thibodeau, Regional President, British Columbia.
"It was wonderful to celebrate these powerful women and to hear them share their experiences and personal journeys as they challenged the status quo and broke barriers in their respective fields. What an incredibly inspirational and powerful event." –Sabrina Keeler-Beggs, National Sales Operations Manager, Cadillac
"Darpan's Inaugural Power Women of Influence Event celebrating South Asian Women and their accomplishments. Great speakers, empowering conversations, beautiful location, delicious food and excellent company! A company owned by two South Asian men hosting an event celebrating South Asian women! Thank you! Gurvinder Hundal, Ramneek Dhillon, Darpan Magazine –Sonia Virk, Lawyer/ Partner at Virk Viyas & Associate Lawyers"
"Last night was the first Darpan Power Women of Influence gala (I sure hope it's not the last! It was amazing and so inspiring). I was at the edge of my seat listening to the panelists..." –Shirley Samujh-Dayal, Director, Operations, Coast Mountain Bus Company
"What an incredible and humbling experience to be present at the Darpan Power Women of Influence Gala 2023. Such a privilege to hear these incredible, powerful and motivating South Asian Women speak of their personal journeys and provide advice to all the powerful women around the world." –Omira Janmohamed, Manager, EV Readiness, Canada, General Motors
Panelists' Reactions to the Event
"Thank you, Darpan magazine, for having me at your amazing event. Events like this are so important to the community. It was an honour to share the stage with such inspiring women. I brought my daughter, and I am so glad she was in the presence of such strong/proud BIPOC women." –Hon. Niki Sharma, Attorney General of British Columbia
"Thank you darpanmagazine and Vancouver for an unforgettable evening!!! Was an honour to be part of the Power Women of Influence Gala!"–Lara Dutta Bhupati, Indian Actor and Former Miss Universe
"A Sincere Thank you to @darpanmagazine for having me at your Power Women of Influence Gala last night. What an honour it was to have the opportunity to meet such wonderful people & inspiring strong women; your kindness, hospitality & support are most appreciated. Thank you for speaking on the importance of empowering women and allowing me to shine a light on my beloved #afghanistan. It was truly an incredible evening with much-needed conversations." –Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, Humanitarian and social activist
It was humbling to be on that stage and work to continue to break barriers and be self-assertive and put yourself out there as a woman and more so as a South Asian female...." Devinder Gill, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, British Columbia, RBC
"Thank you for including me in your event on Friday. It was such a pleasure, and I hope you're all so proud of what you were able to pull off. Everyone loved it, and I so enjoyed being part of it all." –Anita Bathe, Host of CBC Vancouver News at 6
"The entire Darpan team should be very proud. It's hard to believe this was the first event of its kind. You were all exceptionally organized, and it's clear through every detail of the event that you all put your heart, drive, and so much care intoit. I enjoyed the panel discussion and heard a lot of great feedback from others who felt the same (people I know and a number of people I'd never met before)." –Neetu Garcha, Anchor/ Reporter, Global National
Surely, the Darpan Power Women of Influence 2023 was a resounding success, and attendees left inspired and empowered to make a difference. The inaugural milestone was a night to remember, a celebration of the power of women, and a reminder of the great strides that have been made and will continue to be made towards achieving gender equality. Darpan Magazine, being a community magazine, is proud to have been a part of the inaugural Darpan Power Women of Influence, which will undoubtedly become an annual celebration of women's empowerment.
Click on the link below for Darpan Power Women Of Influence Gala 2023 photo gallery.