A group of high-achieving female professionals narrated their success stories at a seminar titled “WildHour: Bold Actions to Change Lives” organised by Noazesh Knowledge Centre (NKC) – a WildTeam initiative at Cosmos Centre in the city on Friday.
The discussion, organised in association with WildTeam – a conservation organization and Cosmos Foundation to mark International Women’s Day, was an attempt to bring together women from different professions and allow them to talk about their success stories and how they took the titular bold actions to change their lives for the better, empowering themselves in the process.
Moderated by Dr. Samia Saif, Research Fellow at Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS), speakers included Joy Jakosalem Balane, Team Leader, United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), Katherine J. Wachala, Deputy Chief of Party, USAID’s Bagh Activity, Smithsonian Institution, Nabila Khushi, Country Manager, Transpay and Sabila Enun, Co-Founder and Head, Communications & People, Dcastalia.
The first session was based on what the women’s bold decisions were. Joy Jakosalem Balane, speaking first, had four such decisions to share with the audience.
Those included the decision to opt for a career in the development sector once graduating from college, becoming a mother and taking up an international career with the United Nations soon after and more.
“You need to look out for organisations who give women the space to balance their work and family life,” she remarked, “it makes multitasking much easier.”
Katherine J. Wachala opined how she came from a privileged society, which was void of gender biasness, but experienced them once her work took her across the globe, where gender discriminations were apparent.
She shared an anecdote, where she visited a West African country as a Peace Corp volunteer and witnessed how difficult it was for girls to attain education, as they had to overcome severe obstacles such as a fiercely-conservative patriarchal society.
That changed her mind to see to it that they received their basic right to education, and decisions like that inspired her to participate in activities which can make a difference in people’s lives.
“I was house-tutored till my board examinations after seventh grade and took the decision to attend university,” Nabila Khushi reminisced.
She shared about how both her parents majored in Biology, but how her father had an illustrious career in multinational companies, while her mother opted for a career as a teacher, enabling her to properly raise their children in the process.
“It is not about who went on to have a great career,” she said, “My mother had an equally-illustrious career, balancing work and family. The element of gender disparity lies in all our heads, if we can overcome such obstacles mentally, women can reach for the sky.”
Sabila Enun shared a personal anecdote about office politics, how she was wrongly accused by a senior at her first job, motivating her to leave on a day’s notice.
“If I hadn’t left, it would not have been morally right to stick to the job. As much as I was hurt by the insinuations that person was making in an executive meeting, the fact that everyone knew I was innocent, yet did not protest, upset me even further,” she said.
The latter sessions included an interactive discussion, where the audience questioned the speaker about several aspects regarding women at work, along with the concluding session, during which all the participants had to write a “bold action” on the wall, which they believe should be implemented if women are to be considered equal to their male counterparts.
United News of Bangladesh (UNB) was the media partner for the event.