International women’s day ( March 8 )

We had ‘Women Of Impact’ event with the theme of ‘BE UNSTOPPABLE’ at my workplace to celebrate Women’s day this week. The agenda of the event was interesting with talks from various women achievers, panel discussions, interactive theatre performance, dance performance and raffle prizes. It involved live coverage of women’s day celebrations in all the major company sites across the globe from Beijing, Singapore, India ( Bangalore/Pune/Chennai) locations , UK and US by passing the virtual baton at scheduled time – the first of its kind at my workplace.

Below was the agenda of the event:

Keynote : The event started with a keynote from senior professional lady manager who had 20+ years of work experience, she had reached top position in corporate ladder and had 4 daughters .She talked about how to transform ourselves from ordinary to extra-ordinary, with examples of lives of women achievers – Malala and Tara Winkler.

Panel discussion: It was followed by panel discussions with Aruna Newton, Mathangi Shandilya and Geetha Kannan. Each of these ladies had their learnings to share with women-of-today , the key take aways for me are below:

While the discussion steered towards women lowering career aspirations during maternity and comeback and the companies boasting of 6 months of maternity leave, day care centers at workplace , reserved parking for pregnant women – she made a valid point that – in 2016, these facilities should be given by default at workplace, the discussions centered towards women’s career should not  end at maternity/children phase, we cannot consider this a favor or benefits for mothers, these facilities have already become the baseline. We need to concentrate on real empowerment of women in various other aspects. Another keynote by Aruna was educating the men too about careers/aspirations of woman, because the event had 95% of woman participants. Unless there is a change in the mindset of society (half being men) – there cannot be a real change.

Geetha’s advice to the women was to think straight and simple  – without complicating the matter, without thinking of 100 other possibilities/dimensions, referred to a popular video circulating in social media sites on ‘why man and woman think differently’ – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkZvLHiaHQc .

Receiving the virtual baton:  We connected to remote site Singapore to receive the baton, lamps were lit, the audience held the mini battery lamp on their palms as a mark of celebrating womanhood ( Yeah , the electronic way 🙂 )

Image Theatre interactive performance:   Couple of volunteers from the organisation were the actors. Here, actors do not use words or signs (i.e. nodding) but instead use their hands to create an image with other actors to communicate an idea, an event, or an emotion. Once the image is done, the audience will be interpreting the image/idea , would go to the stage and change the hands/actions to ‘change the idea’.  Below were the images/events :

  1. 5 girls , one holding book, other holding a ladle and broom, other holding a pressure cooker lid and clock etc – depicting a working woman managing house, cooking, kids and working. The best change suggested by the audience was to call upon a male actor and handed over all the kitchen items to him – the idea being to delegate work and ask for help.
  2. A handicapped girl willing to move forward is pulled back by 4 gals dressed in red depicting the fears/society. The best change brought in was by moving the fear-gals to the forward , asking them to kneel down in front of the handicapped girl conveying the idea that the woman should ride on the fears, not letting them to dampen her spirits and excel in her career/life.
  3. A manager giving hats/promotion to a male employee. An unmarried and a married gal – trying to grab the hats and a pregnant lady with a tired/sad expression looking at male employee getting promoted. The image depicted as a girl gets married , the enthusiasm in career fades, when she becomes pregnant – work becomes the last priority. For male employees the enthusiasm and career aspirations grows stronger. It also showed the discrimination of promoting a male employee considering the pregnant lady incapable for promotion. The change to this image by a lady in Burqha was by changing the facial expression of pregnant lady actor to SMILE, to be happy as she has a baby in womb. Another change to the image by the host herself was to change the expressions of the lady actors to challenge the manager for not promoting, and not sulking at the decision.
  4. The last act showed a gal on whom many post-it notes were stuck – these notes signified all the labels that society gives to a woman on her looks, acts, priorities, habits etc. The change was targeted towards ourselves/audience to shrug off all the labels attached to us and BE UNSTOPPABLE.

Contemporary dance on ‘Strength of woman’ showed Jhansi Rani Lakshmi Bai’s valiant fight against British. The performance was filled with high energy and truly instilled a sense of courage and patriotism in the audience.

The event closed with a note of thanks to all the people who participated in the event and the unsung heros/WPR who worked in the background to make this event a success.

Luncheon , hi tea and raffle prizes – deserves a mention which played an important role in keeping the audience participating in this event throughout the day 😛

Selfie booth was arranged where the selfie/groupie lovers can hold colorful placards which had short inspiring one-liners. Tattoo designers added fun part to the event by painting colorful tattoos on demand.

At the end of the event, there was a happy smile on the faces of the participants and audience – celebrating womanhood with a determination to excel , pursue their dreams , reach the sky and truly BE UNSTOPPABLE.

Below are couple of interesting stuff I read on social media sites , worth capturing here:

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/reshma_saujani_teach_girls_bravery_not_perfection

 

https://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_so_we_leaned_in_now_what?language=en

http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leaders?language=en

 

Inspiring books for career-oriented women:

 

Lovely poem by Jean Felicher ( A Woman’s worth ) :

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Interesting blogs:.

View story at Medium.com

View story at Medium.com

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