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Empowerment, Innovation & Impact: Conversation With Visionary Women in the UAE

WISE is a platform to stirring sustainable entrepreneurship, is an initiative developed by Mr. Vasantha & Advocate Bindu S Chettur. Hosted Metropolitan Hotel Dubai, bringing together Arab Emirati and Expatriate super achievers for a panel discussion that evolved as symphony of empowerment and impact. By Soniya Kirpalani; Video/Images Mona Al Suliman

It is not every day that you get to moderate a powerful panel of four extraordinary women who have shattered barriers, defied expectations, and emerged as trailblazers in their respective fields. Sharing stories about their journey to success; they all courageously bared their lives to speak about their challenges and resilience. This revealed their determination in their unwavering pursuit of excellence, both for themselves and for other women around them. It reminded me wise words my grandma shared “We marched our way, open eyed in darkness, and now in this shining light, don’t be blinded, march with open eyes and hands giving.”

A Sisterhood Emerges: (L-R)  Fadya Al Maeeni, Advocate Bindu Chettur, Soniya Kirpalani, Ms Vasanthi &          Mona Al Suliman

Picture this: Dr. Maya Al Hawary the first Arab-Emirati female to hold a PhD in Smart Leadership & Emotional Intelligence, who starts by illuminating a path of wisdom in a field crucial for the progress of the MENA Region. A Professional Development Consultant, she shared knowledge, mentoring over 100s of government employees across UAE, this pioneer has spoken powerfully at Ted X Stages- 3 Times! Dr Maya written three books, her latest ‘Towards Confident Femininity.’ She has also earned the ‘Knowledge Ambassador of the Emirates Red Crescent’ and several titles, like “Ambassador of Positive Digital Citizenship” and “Knight of Tolerance UAE”. She writes articles regularly and through her podcast ‘Consult With Dr Maya” and is living testimony on how empathy has been the cornerstone to the transformation across the MENA region.

Heart warmingly revealing her emotional challenges, Dr Maya explained how this became the well springs of her growth and awakened understanding. Dr Maya highlighted how the youth of today needs to support their more conservative elders and communities into accepting the new journeys that women will have to undertake in building inclusive pathways to progress, and creating cohesive environment for growth. Her candid conversation was a reminder of a new mindset of women.

These women nurture households and lead corporations, driving scientific breakthroughs to revolutionizing the future tech landscape and raise a future generation. Today UAE’s women are proving their mettle as innovators, leaders, creators and homemakers. Mona Al Suliman, is a perfect torch bearer to this. She received a standing applause for her courage, as a nine months pregnant Mona, only few days short of delivering her baby, drove from Ras Al Khaimah to Dubai, only to selflessly share thought which could spark inspiration within other entrepreneurs.

Sharing the very inspiring journey of her mother, who was unfortunately widowed in her early thirties, Mona’s voice took flight with reverence as she revealed how her mother had single-handedly educated, empowered SIX daughters and sons. And it is this courage that became the framework of Mona’s value systems. In a world of influencers, Mona was the first veiled female influencer in 2016, who would communicate with her audiences without needing to reveal her face. She was earning recognition solely because of her thoughts. From whispered anonymity to a crescendo of authenticity, her career soared- she has a 1Million + followers. Mona developed strategies for navigating this male-dominated sector, whilst maintaining dignity, constantly evolving and achieving balance, amidst diverse roles. Encouraged by her audience, she revealed her face, to build deep trust.

Using simplicity and authenticity in communicating with her audience Mona consciously makes her content relatable with the regional women. This is why corporates like Noon, Canon, Watsons, Danube have partnered with her, to collaborate in amplifying the voice of the modern Emirati woman, and take it to the world. Extending beyond pixels and posts, Mona is a compassionate soul, working with Red Crescent Global Humanitarian Network to guide those in throes of disaster, conflict, and social challenges. As President of the Ladies in Business Magazine, UAE Chapter she has infused her emotional quotient. She has also won ‘Best Social Media Network’ Woman of Substance Award’.

Speaking Out And Stand Up:  Ashwini Chandrasekhar, Dr Maya Al ,Hawary, Mona Al Suliman, Soniya Kirpalani and Fadya AlMaeeni

In a world where boundaries are meant to be challenged and dreams are meant to be realised, Fadya AlMaeeni is another beacon of excellence. A double major, Master in Human Resources Management, Bachelor in Information Technology, from prestigious local universities. She started her career in technology, uniquely the shy young Fadya found her calling in communication. “Silent Is Listen, just spelt differently,”  she explains. With deep patience she listened to her colleagues, with authenticity she guided them. This became her calling card. “Innovation doesn’t mean losing yourself. It’s about adapting your core values to new contexts,” Fadya explained.

So, honing her skills by learning professional Life Coaching & NLP training. She bravely took on an industry largely dominated by men, Aviation and Airline. Fadya’s career graph is testimony to her unflinching commitment of 15+ years, as Manager of HR, Training, Support Services in Department of Civil Aviation. Here she has won several awards, as “Employee of the Month/ The Most Cooperative Employee” and serves as a part of their Event Teams. Her story ignites the flames of ambition within each of us, reminding that the path to greatness begins with a single step. And though this was her first public talk, she took centerstage and used her rich communication tool box to speak the right kind of loud.

The India film industry has birthed a realm of remarkable individuals, Ashwini Chandrashekher is a shining example. An architect-entrepreneur and a radiant star of the Indian silver screen, her journey is a symphony of creativity, dedication, and boundless aspiration. As an architect, she designs structures; crafting experiences, pioneering innovation and creating a beauty line, fully natural and organic. Shining in seven feature films, in four languages, Malayalee, Tamil, Kanada, Telugu glazing a trail of accolade, she has earned critical acclaim and won hearts of audiences for Jiivi series which currently streaming on Amazon. She added glamour and intelligence to the conversation, highlighting the importance of collaboration.

Witnessing these beautiful women and their inherent spirit and resilience, I realized how UAE’s modern history is testimony to the power of their women. Each one on the stage shared how the region’s leadership had shaped their lives. Each woman here was testimony to the power of change, as each of them Arab-Emirati/ Women Expats based in the Emirates received regional support and mentorship, so they can play pivotal roles in shaping economies, societies, and communities. 

Mona Al Suliman, receiving a WISE Award from Puducherry Home Minister A Namassivayam

Throughout this discussion, they shared their stories without filters, delving into very personal pivotal moments, that helped them challenge the norm and triumphs into something extraordinary. In an evening filled with shared knowledge and a promise of sisterhood, celebrating the indomitable spirit of unwavering determination of women who had taken bold steps into the world of innovation and entrepreneurship it was nothing short of enlightening and inspiring. Their inspiring journeys, insights, encapsulate the very essence of turning challenges into opportunities, breaking molds, and embracing EQ with authenticity.

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5-day camp begins in Srinagar for women-led startups

The event is organised to promote the products and brands of women entrepreneurs from the Kashmir…reports Asian Lite News

A five-day-long all-womens’ entrepreneurship exhibition was organized at the Kashmir Haat in Srinagar on Saturday.

The exhibition was organized by Exceeding Event Expectations (EREIGNIS) in collaboration with Jammu and Kashmir handicraft and handloom department.

“This five-day event is for all women entrepreneurs who have their own startups or are already into business. With this platform, these entrepreneurs will be allowed to exhibit their products and promote their brands,” said Sheenam Bakhshi, one of the organisers of the event.

“This event is also to question the social stigma of women being only fit for kitchens,” she added.

Speaking to ANI, Mehmood Shah, the Director of Handicraft and Handlooms, Kashmir appreciated the contribution of women in the handicrafts and said, “Some handicrafts are exclusively taken up by women including weaving, embroidery, crewel, Chain stitch and many more. However, it is time that we reinvent it and add new entrepreneurs, new designs, colour schemes and market the craft differently.”

Asma Bhat, a 19-year old traditional food staller expressed her delight and said, “The intent is to empower the females against the stereotype that women are suppressed, however, that shouldn’t be the actuality. If today I get a good response, maybe in 2-3 years, I open my own restaurant.” (ANI)

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