Nine Canadian women were honoured with awards of excellence at the Women Economic Forum in New Delhi last week. They shared their experience with the audience and were presented the awards by host and WEF global chairperson Dr Harbeen Arora.
The forum is a celebration of women's empowerment and provides a platform for women from all walks of life — enabling connections with inspiring women entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world. The theme for the 2019 conference was “Reimagining Societies: Reclaiming Humanity with Gender Equality”, and marked a milestone for WEF, as the 25th global edition.
The Canadians on the panel, who all have their roots in India, represented different industries and their talks were among one of the most diverse panels at the forum: Raj Arneja of Nanak Foods, ethnic fashion designer Pammi Singh, author and domestic violence survivor Kamal Dhillon, Simon Fraser University Associate Vice President, External Affairs, Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan,marketing and public relations specialist Paarull JS Bakshi, former journalist and communications professional Almas Meherally, entrepreneur and South Asian Fashion Week producer Cindy Khella, creative consultant and cultural strategist Tasleem Somji, and former Miss British Columbia Navneet Kaur Nanan.
Each presented a distinctive voice and vision that's innovating a new narrative of leadership:
Arneja spoke about her upcoming book on her experience about adopting her children in India. The story explains her mindset, on why she wanted to adopt and how her family situation was while she was growing up, which ultimately led her to adoption. Her warmth and emotions flowed as she spoke from her heart to the audience.
Singh shared a personal story of loss and perseverance that taught her how to value life and pursue only happiness.
Dhillon shared her story of survival, her book and how returning to India was an emotional experience.
Jaya-Madhavan recalled incidents from her life where acceptance of disruption and getting over obstacles was the only way forward.
Bakshi elaborated on the importance of public perception, brand building and the challenges of creating a celebrity persona.
Meherally highlighted how authentic journalism is more about recording our history and less about intruding in people’s lives.
Khella told the audience to follow their heart, as entrepreneurship is all about building upon your dreams.
Somji told a beautiful allegory that explored ideas around why we do what we do, questioning the nature of existence and how we define our lives.
Nanan, former National Canadian Miss British Columbia and Miss Canada Top 5 spoke on how her accomplishments are hinged upon her passion to work with and uplift women and girls in her community and beyond.
The tenth woman on the panel wasn’t a Canadian but having lived in Canada for many years, Dr. Shalini Chander, came to support the women from the land she loves. Actress and producer of the Vancouver South Asian Film Festival, Mannu Sandhu, who heads the Vancouver chapter of WEF, was instrumental in bringing this Canadian delegation to Delhi.
While in Delhi, the women were also hosted by the Canadian High Commissioner Nadir Patel. They spent some quality time with Patel, discussing the possibilities of enhancing Indo-Canadian exchange of ideas, trade and education.