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Bold women throw light on their darkest hour

Maiden venture in Auckland blazes a trailRakesh Chaurasia-Ratna Venkat

Ratna Venkat – 

“This is a man’s world” – the first line of James Brown’s famous 1966 song, seems irrelevant now in 2016.

For, so much has changed in the past fifty years for the liberated woman.

Their roles are more demanding today, juggling home, work and extra-curricular activities, and yet as a society, we take pride in continuing to promote gender equality by encouraging the modern woman to think for herself and live the way she wants.

This is what I expected at the event, ‘I am Woman’, would be about, gender equality, feminism and women emancipation, but later realised how wrong I would be after attending this highly inspiring High Tea and networking rendezvous.

Launched on April 30, 2016 by its Founder and Chief Executive Anuradha Sharma, more than 200 women (and men) of varied ethnicities and backgrounds came together to become ‘change-makers’ for their futures.

The Dignitaries

Among those who attended the event held at Langham Hotel were Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy, Members of Parliament Dr Parmjeet Parmar (National), Jenny Salesa, Jacinda Arden (Labour), David Seymour (Act), Labour Party Policy Council Member Priyanca Radhakrishnan, Korean Consul-General Chan Sun Cha, Saudi Arabia Consular Official Laila Fayden, Police Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Auckland City District Police Asian Liaison Officer Jessica Phuang and India Trade Alliance Chairman Giri Gupta.

Conceptualised two years ago in Italy and later in New York, ‘I am Woman’ made its way to New Zealand in 2014. With the support of professionals and entrepreneurs, it was officially launched this year with ‘Live life in Colour’ series – inspirational talks and life-changing personal stories presented by NZ based fashion designer Annah Stretton and two female guest speakers from her organisation ‘Reclaim A Woman’ (RAW).

Honest speakers

The guest speakers were Ina and Gina who boldly shared to the public their similar histories of crime, domestic violence, drug abuse and the difficulties in re-assimilating into society.

Their pasts were not something to be ashamed of, because as Annah indicated, it is such depressing moments that motivate us to ‘step up’ and finally take charge of our lives, transforming our black and white moments into bursts of colour.

‘Live life in Colour,’ was the apt title for the event.

Annah and her team behind RAW believe that sharing personal stories that reflect hurt and neglect is one of the best ways to help women regain self-esteem, and in Gina’s words, ‘encourages former criminals to become contributors to their communities.’

Terrifying experience

Capturing our attentions and our hearts, Ina and Gina described how difficult and terrifying it was to embark on a path unfamiliar to them, especially after being raised in environments where love was hardly ever present. With time and patience on their sides however, their wounds showed signs of heal.

A fashion show displaying some of Annah’s dresses marked the culmination of the event, with women from professional fields chosen to walk down the runway instead of professional models.

Vicious Circle

As a woman, going to this event was not only educational but enlightening, as it brought out past issues I could relate it to my recent dance concert ‘Life in a Full Circle,’ held on April 9 (Indian Newslink, April 15, 2016). Some people who I thought would help me with the Project, did not.

And there were those who almost walked out of my Project, leaving me in jeopardy.

For a young woman with ambitions, such drama can be overwhelming, especially when she puts on a brave face for the success of her maiden venture.

But listening to Annah, I realised that setbacks are an inevitable part of life and therefore it is important to remain calm and just move on by placing “one foot in front of the other.”

This was when I realised that the purpose of being a woman was above all, being human.

Going back to complete James Brown’s 1966 classic song, “This is a man’s world, but it would be nothing, nothing without a woman or a girl.”

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