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International Women’s Day 2014 – Inspiring Change

Author:   |  Published: March 8, 2014  |  Leave your thoughts

This International Women’s Day, TamilCulture is celebrating the amazing women we work with and whose stories we share.

Meena Serendib, Actress, Dancer, Magician

“When I applied to universities, I actually planned to be a French and International Studies double major. I was going to work for the UN or something and change the world. In the middle of my senior year, I won a drama competition and the result was that I got to perform my piece in front of 1,600 people.The piece I performed was an excerpt of an eye-witness account of the ’83 riots. My heart was so alive in that moment and I was struck by how dynamic storytelling can be as an agent of change. I wanted to feel that alive, always.”

Renuka I, Writer

“Stay true to yourself: ensure that your work is a reflection of who you are and what you wish to share with the world. Stand by your convictions:  you already know what your final product is meant to look like – you have an image of it in your head. You already know what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do in order to make it happen. Don’t give up on any of it simply because someone asked you to. Never write to gain popularity:  if your hope is to get as many followers as possible or write to please the public and the current trend they’re following, you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. Write from the heart…what you end up creating is far more beautiful.”

Vipoosita Gnanenthra, Photographer 
“Do not wait for the perfect moment and allow your work to collect dust.  I have seen many artists who are afraid to showcase their creative work because they believe it is not perfect. There is no better time than the present time to allow the community an opportunity to react to your work.   However, realize that in the first few innings of your creative work, it is important to embrace the process of constant improvement to move forward.”

Indira Nooyi, CEO, Pepsi Co.

“To be a CEO is a calling. You should not do it because it is a job. It is a calling and you have got to be involved in it with your head, heart and hands. Your heart has got to be in the job, you got to love what you do, and it consumes you. And if you are not willing to get into the CEO job that way, there is no point getting into it. And I love the job, I love the company, I love the people. I loved it when I was president and love it as much as CEO today.”

Kali Arulpragasm, Founder and Creative Director, Super Fertile

“I just want to bring awareness to issues, ask difficult questions. Demand answers. To bring unity and promote peace and progress. To capture the times we live in. I think my role here is to keep the issues on the table. Also push the system and open doors for others.”

Meena Kandasamy, Writer, Activist, Poet, Translator

“I started writing first on these bulletin board kind of places that the internet in the late 1990s was famous for. You would get instant response from total strangers, and sometimes, it would let you have faith in yourself. It was very anonymous in those days, not like the personality-driven social media cult of today.”

When asked what inspired her writing she responded “Dissent. Protest. Rebellion. The need to speak out. The need to show support. It is a long time since I wrote anything merely for it to look beautiful.”

Abi Jeyaratnam, Career Mentor Program Facilitator

“Mentors can be handpicked, sometimes assigned and even titled. But true mentors are selected not by choice and somteimes are not even aware that they have been chosen. Because somewhere along the way their mentee chose them. Because they lived life by example, they are someone who dared to dream and lived to inspire.”

Kirthiga Rajanayagam , Fashion PR Specialist

“Breaking into the world of PR can be difficult and unfortunately it is currently filled with unpaid internships. However you can, get experience. Volunteer if you have to. Employers need to see that you have been exposed to the environment before and that you can handle it…Be hungry. Always want more.”

 Geetha Moorthy, Founder and Executive Director, SAAAC

“For me success is about setting goals and being committed to working hard to achieve those goals. Honestly, for me, there is no ultimate goal. I believe there are always opportunities to grow to do better or to do more; once you’ve achieved a goal, set a new one a little higher a little further. Life is about continuing to push yourself and a series of setting new goals, working towards them, and then setting new ones.”

Nayani Thiyagarajah, Storyteller
“Trust your vision. Believe that if something came to you, it came to you for a reason. Trust your work. Believe that if you are doing the work, things will work out as they are meant to. Trust the struggles. Remember there are learning curves everywhere along the road, and that the struggles are also part of the story. Trust the process. Make peace with the fact that the process rarely goes as planned, but it always leads you to exactly where you need to go. Trust yourself. Be kind, be tender, and be patient with yourself. You are everything you need – believe that with all your being.”

Caroline Jeba, CEO, Catur Agency

Once a television journalist, Caroline Jeba is a household name in Toronto. It all began with her passion to pursue her dream at OMNI TV, and later at the local CTV-CFTO newsroom where she was the first South Asian woman to report in that newsroom. In her words, “This was my passion. No one was going to say no to me. And if they did I was going to find someone who was going to say yes.”

Ahalya Kumaran, Leadership Consultant

“Ahalya’s advice to young entrepreneurs, which is fundamental to what she does and her brand, is to spend time discovering your ‘innerOli’, the unique light that only you have to offer the world.  Ahalya cautions that sometimes you know what it is but you are afraid to admit it and accept it because of what others may think.  Other times, you don’t have a clue what your innerOli is because you’ve never asked yourself the important questions.  Once you gain clarity on your innerOli and what you truly want, Ahalya affirms that ‘opportunities will come your way, you will feel more confident and it will be easy to be courageous, you’ll meet the right people, and you’ll continue to gain more clarity on what to do next’.”

V.V. Ganeshananthan, Writer

“If you really want to do something, always say yes to yourself; other people will offer up plenty of NO and it’s good to be in the habit of not listening to that.”

If you know an amazing Tamil woman (or man), whose story you think we should share, please e-mail us at [email protected] to nominate them for a spotlight feature.