Note: This is a continuation from the previous highlights of TEDxJISSalon: Women in Leadership where it is only about the panelists.
The first panel discussion was held by Erin McKee and Meilyn Tan regarding their balancing act in terms of responsibility of education and communication. An audience member asked, “What is the definition of having it all?” The answer was, “It depends. It depends on where your vision of success comes from. Don’t abandon having that vision of success when others tell you to do so. Instead, be driven from what others think because it should be you, making the decisions.”
Intersectionality is the idea that social identities intersect to create something different than its component identities. Kelley Akhiemokhali and Ramona Carter discussed intersectionality and the frameworks that might be missing from it. They engaged the audience members by providing them with small sticky notes and sharpies to everyone and let them share their thoughts on the intersectionality by sticking the notes on the wall.
When you hear the word hero, you would immediately think of a firefighter, lawyer or a male face. However, Step Vaessen and Robin Bush showed the audience their unexpected female heroes. Vaessen first spoke of Musdah Mulia; a fighter for LGBT rights, human rights, women’s rights and the first woman to get a PhD and be appointed research professor. Furthermore, of Rosita; she lost all her children in the Indian ocean tsunami and let go of her children physically when the waves came rushing. She had given up on life and had been living in a tent for quite a while, however she demanded that she got her house back. Afterwards, she helped young children and the families who were affected by the tsunami. They are examples of somebody who made the impossible, possible.
Bush spoke of her helper, Sukini, who helped raise her son and daughter, giving her children love and food when Bush couldn’t be there. Additionally, Vaessen spoke of her helper as well, Tini, who took care of her son. At four in the afternoon, Tini went to university until nine. Afterwards, she did her homework and wakes up at five everyday to do her homework again. She did this for four years, and the week before the salon, she graduated from her school.
Women in leadership does not always mean leadership in corporate positions, but staying strong in the face of adversity. A hero or a leader does not have to be high profile nor necessarily a man, it can be anybody, anywhere. Women are still facing many problems such as inequality, but change is possible. To go against conventions and expectations, to be yourself, that is the very basic core of everything.
This article was originally written by Nadine Zahiruddin and has been edited by Claudia Mak.