Pictured Above: SheTalks Founders Natasha Raey and Barinder Rasode at SheTalks YVR 2017
When a woman can make choices in a safe environment, her power multiplies. As I enjoyed the SheTalks talks at Centre Stage at Surrey City Hall accompanied by two 19-year old young ladies, I knew that each woman’s story was empowering my teens in a unique way. They heard stories of getting past sexual abuse and partner abuse; of success in career against all odds, of fighting cancer or lupus doggedly; of living the life of a transsexual; of addictions in loved ones; and of making choices through strife. Vani Guglani and Sona Singh felt inspired to make their own life choices in the face of adversity, and so did I.
The SheTalks morning began with Mayor Linda Hepner’s address on Audiovisual, and then took off to each of the 16 stories of empowered women.
In one of the three food and drink breaks as I talked to one of the speakers, I realized – these ladies needed to be heard as much as we the audience of 200 women (and occasional men) needed to hear them. I couldn’t possibly fit all 16 stories here, so I chose to write two stories chosen by my teenage daughter here.
1. Jen MarchbankJen Marchbank, well-known feminist and Professor Gender Equality at SFU Surrey, was fostering for years when she decided to go against the proverbial tide and become a biological mother. “Consider my situation: I was 33, single, with endometriosis, and a lesbian. Not the usual set of ‘how to get pregnant’ factors,” she says.
Jen made us laugh as we followed her journey of grit and faith. She chose to go through artificial insemination for two years, chose to deny invasive tests (amniocentesis) during pregnancy, and brought her baby son into her feminist world by following through her choices. Women must make choices themselves to make sure an environment exists within which other women can make choices. “I got to choose because of my own set of knowledge but also because generations of women have worked to ensure that an environment exists within which other women can make choices.”
2. Ish Rasode13 year old Ish Rasode, cofounder Barinder Rasode’s daughter, concluded the day with her personal story of how she handled bullying. “The she talks committee comes to my house on Sunday mornings at around 9 or 10 and most often I come down with bed head and my pajamas on,” Ish laughs.
One Amazing Mom that Barinder is, she helped Ish survive the upshot of her mayoral campaign. Kids would call Ish ugly, annoying, a witch or a white wash (whatever that means). Ish made that username to her spam account – “Life of a white wash” or a white girl dipped in brown chocolate.
“I have never heard my mom say anything bad about anyone, She does not gossip and she always asks me to look at how the other person is feeling. Sometimes people take advantage but she says that is on them. At the same time she has taught me to be strong,” Ish says about her powerhouse mom.
“SheTalks has really changed me to see how many women feel and that no matter what no one is alone. There’s always someone,” says Ish. While I can’t write all 16 stories we heard on March 4, I can tell you that each of the 16 stories were superbly inspiring. My teen daughter and her friend came back inspired to live their choices and fight negativity with all we have in us. It was one amazing Sunday.