New group provides open, safe platform to discuss issues

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Devika Ganjoor-Erickson

Devika Ganjoor-Erickson

Auckland, September 27, 2021

                                     Speakers, Members and Guests at the EmpowHER meets

 A woman’s group in Auckland promises to be a veritable platform to exchange information and allow women to discuss their challenges and problems without fear of being stigmatised and ‘watched over’ by men and the community.

Called, EmpowHER, the new group has been established by Rani Nalam and five other professionals to address the challenges faced by women in ethnic communities – women, who are otherwise not able to openly discuss and share their views and concerns.

Inadequacies recognised

These issues could range from health, mental wellbeing and safety within the family to harassment and discrimination at work or profession.

Rani floated the idea of forming EmpowHER with like-minded women who were very keen to be a part of this community initiative. The group recognised that there are many organisations supporting extreme referral cases, but there is not much information-sharing for the everyday woman to get support with her daily struggles.

The team at EmpowHER accounts for six women from a variety of skilled, self-employed and working professionals from different corporate backgrounds with more than 100 years of collective, invaluable experience.

Dr Ratneesh Suri, Sakthi Krishnamurthi, Devika Ganjoor-Erickson, Neelu Taore, Shveta Shah 
and Rani Nalam at the Second Forum on August 8, 2021

EmpowHER will therefore be different and bridge the gap of low-level educational and wellbeing support in the low-to-middle spectrum of the society.

EmpowHER’s vision is to Inspire, inform, and support other women in Aotearoa and be friendly and non-judgmental platform. It is our hope that by sharing our experiences, we can grow together to unleash our true potential, as we are all on a journey where we are continually evolving and striving to become the best versions of ourselves.

The Group’s goal is to unite and empower women from diverse ethnic communities through educational and well-being forums so that they can learn, grow and broaden their mindset through encouragement and self-awareness that will benefit their mental wellbeing.

Quarterly Forums

EmpowHER aims to run a series of free interactive forums every quarter, inviting experienced guest speakers to share their knowledge and real-life experiences and to connect with women from all walks of life. Two Forums have been held this year, with details posted on their Facebook page and other social media channels.

The Forums conform to high professional standards, to ensure which the organising team meets potential speakers and participants in person or virtually to discuss and finalise topics, and other details. The agenda and topics to achieve synergy and unity of objective and purpose are determined. Thereafter, finer details of the event are finalised including promotion on social media channels and ticketing agencies.

As well as ensuring that each participant is accorded opportunities to listen, question and ensure good outcomes, the team attempts to get their honest response through reviews and after-the-forum surveys.

Sakthi Krishnamurthi, Dr Ratneesh Suri, Shruti Chadha, Devika Ganjoor-Erickson, 

Dr Fay Amin, Neelu Taore, Devi Sobhana, Sr. Sergeant Mandeep Kaur, Rani Nalam 

and Shveta Shah at the Second Forum held on August 8, 2021

Team EmpowHER:

Rani Nalam: Following a 22-year-long career at ANZ in Risk and Finance roles, Rani Nalam is today a Registered Financial Advisor at Life Secure Financial Services Limited. With a penchant for making a difference in the lives of people, she sees herself as a Connector, driven by a genuine interest in people and purposeful engagement to empower others.

Shveta Shah: As a Service Delivery Manager at Spark with an Enterprise portfolio, Shveta Shah leads end-to-end service delivery for clients across the virtual team. She is a proud mother of a 23-year-old daughter and is enthusiastic about paving new ways and opening doors for women. Her daughter inspires her to create an equal, inspiring and safe world.

Devika Ganjoor-Erickson: Her career spans over two decades of Marketing and Communications roles, with the current assignment as a Marketing Manager at ANZ.

Devika Ganjoor-Erickson learnt resilience at an early age from her single mum and strives to impart this value to her eight-year-old son and those with who she connects. She is enthusiastic about helping others in every way possible and hence is readily welcomed the opportunity to be of service through EmpowHER.

Dr Ratneesh Suri: A PhD in Applied Mathematics and a keen data analytics leader, Dr Ratneesh Suri is employed as Head of Data and Analytics at Ports of Auckland. Compassion and giving back drives her and through involvement with EmpowHER, she looks forward to making a difference in people’s lives and wellbeing.

Neelu Taore: A wellbeing Coach and Entrepreneur, Neelu owns a successful cosmetic business specialising in Asian skincare. She believes in making women beautiful externally and internally and has been serving communities in many ways.

Sakthi Krishnamurthi: A qualified Barrister & Solicitor practicing Commercial Law, Property Law and Media Law, Shakti Krishnamurthi has a strong interest in issues related to women and youth. She believes that women are not ‘property’ and deserve to be treated with respect, while being kept free from physical and mental harm with abilities and opportunities to advance in all spheres. Her family has been her strength and inspiration.

Devika Ganjoor-Erickson, Nanette Nathoo, Sakthi Krishnamurthi, Jessica Phuang, Neelu Taore and Rani Nalam

First Forum: ‘Finding You’

The First Forum of EmpowHER was held in Auckland on April 18, 2021. Clinical Psychologist Anjana Gaekwad and Mindfulness Coach Neelu Taore were Guests Speakers on the main topic, ‘Finding You.’ Their speech was on how to focus on mental wellbeing with practical, breathing exercises. About 75 women attending the Forum, including Labour MP (Upper Harbour) Vanushi Walters.

She said, “Sharing the experiences in their lives to uplift other women was evident in the energy experienced at the Forum. I found the day really helpful. Many of the women with whom I have spoken, said that they have taken so much from this and the skills that they have learnt in terms of taking care of and helping themselves as they take on the big challenges. They have also connected with other women who are on a similar journey. It was an absolutely stunning event. I look forward to the next one.”

Results from the feedback survey indicated a 7/7 score, which was seen as an enormous success, given that it was our first event. The participants felt that they could take home practical exercises for better mental and physical wellbeing. EmpowHER, in a short timeframe, also established a wide reach on Facebook and other social platforms such as LinkedIn. The Facebook posts reached an audience of 2000 while the LinkedIn posts recorded more than 4000 viewers.

A section of the audience at the EmpowHER Forum held on August 8, 2021

Second Forum: Turn stumbling blocks into steppingstones

The second Forum, held on August 8, 2021, was a women-only community event.

More than 70 women of Indian, Chinese and Iranian ethnicity attended the two-hour interactive session during which three women took them through their transformational and courageous journey, overcoming challenging pasts, to become the strong and successful women that they are today. The session was moderated by Shruti Chadha, a professional Life and Health Coach.

The speakers included New Zealand Police Senior Sergeant Mandeep Kaur, People & Capability Lead and Carnatic vocalist Devi Sobhana and Just3 Limited Director of Communication and Founder of Iranian Women in New Zealand Charitable Trust Dr Forough (Fay) Amin and New Zealand Police Tamaki Makarau Ethnic Responsive Manager Jessica Phuang and Shruti Chadha.

They spoke of resilience, the importance of exercise and discipline, following one’s passion, standing up for oneself and belief in the self. Shruti took the attendees through an exercise of self-reflection to identify key focus areas in our lives which needed nourishing.

The Feedback Survey of the Second Forum said, “Hearing the stories of the brave ladies and how they have overcome adversity, gives me courage to try new things and to know that I can achieve success in my life too. That ordinary people can achieve great strides too by taking action to change, and remaining hopeful and positive.”

For further information about the Group, please email

Photo Credits: Jasmin Sheikh

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