Digital Women Awards 2019 Show Us How The Future Is #DigitalFemale
- IWB Post
- November 26, 2019
The fifth edition of Digital Women Awards, held in Guragon this weekend, welcomed women from all professional realms and walks of life. A multitude of visionary entrepreneurs gathered together, discussing ideas and sharing insights – the energy in the air was to be witnessed. The event was nothing short of a success!
On our way from the airport, my colleague and I were talking about our country’s slow-growing yet changing status on gender inequality, and how a summit as such – dedicated to honour and celebrate the success of trailblazing women entrepreneurs and leaders of the digital business world, makes for a strong milestone in this movement spearheaded by women.
At the venue, warming for a power-packed day ahead were women and men of all ages, interacting over coffee with the knowledge of but one another’s first name, sans the criteria of designation and background – an ingenious idea by SheThePeople to have everyone wear a name badge; and which as Shaili Chopra mentioned in her speech, was to present everyone with an equal opportunity to meet, connect, and dive deep.
While we stood at the coffee machine deciding between a cappuccino and latte, admiring and capturing the vibe, Bhavini (Parikh) from Bunko Junko led us into the party with her warm hello. Bhavini makes artistic fashion using unused textile from manufacturing units, and through her brand is contributing towards environment sustainability by saving landfills!
From one inspiring conversation to another, and until we made it to the conference hall, we met with some highly inspirational women leading remarkable businesses and creative digital ventures. You-tuber and comedian Indrani Biswas (@WonderMunna) with her vivacious smile and a tripod-mounted camera in hand, caught our attention and in no time we were talking about how she find trolls to be just as constructive as they are destructive, and has learnt to avoid them. On the other end of the lobby, standing next to a sumptuous spread of danish pastries and muffins was Kabita Sharma (@Kabitaskitchen), who when I approached, greeted me with the warmest smile. A food blogger, Kabita, has a following of more than 2.5L on Instagram, and her YouTube channel is a treasure of home-style food recipes!
When Shaili Chopra launched the Digital Women Awards five years ago, the idea was to celebrate the spirit of women entrepreneurship, but as she had shared in a conversation with IWB ahead of the summit, she hadn’t thought that it would turn into a movement like it has. Addressing the role of technology in her opening speech, she said, “Through the last five years of engaging with many of the women entrepreneurs, the one thing that’s come through, is that I am an entrepreneur today because I have access to technology.”
Supporting her statement in the conversation that followed, Roma Datta Chobey, Director of Travel, BFSI, Classifieds, Gaming, Telco and Payments at Google India, talked about the importance of digitalisation and how it has helped upscale startup businesses. She also shared about Google’s campaign ‘Internet Saathi’ that aims to bridge the online gender divide in rural India by training and educating women across 3L villages on the benefits of technology and Internet in their every day life. “Not only has Internet access helped women from rural region find exposure, it has also helped in reducing the gender gap,” said she.
Touching upon another brilliant campaign by Google, ‘#IAmRemarkable’, which aims to empower women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond, Roma shared her views on how women need to change their perception regarding self-promotion, “project and promote yourself in a structured data-backed manner so as to not fear the risk of making it seem like bragging.”
In the next session, Indu Nanayakkara, who travelled for the event from Sri Lanka, shared her thoughts on the problems women entrepreneurs grapple with – Imposter Syndrome being the biggest in her opinion. “Self-doubt, the ‘Can we do this?’ hesitation constantly holds us back. We need to overcome it and reinstate our self-belief,” said the Colombo-based Social Media Consultant, Trainer, Speaker, Co-manager at GBG Colombo, and Country Lead of #WomenWill.
India’s leading pastry chef and a successful entrepreneur, Pooja Dhingra, too was amongst the speakers. Loved by all and called the Macaron Queen, Pooja recollecting her valuable learning experiences, asked the young women entrepreneurs to be actively involved in financial decisions – from targets to break-even to industry standards.
Outside we interacted with Pooja again, seeking her expert advice on building a personal brand, “Find something that is real to you, that you are truly and honestly passionate about. It could be anything, what matters is the authenticity. It shows through what you’re trying to do, so try to find something that you really love and keep it real,” she said (no sugar-coat!)
We then met with Neha Jalan, a Senior Principal Program Manager at a security company, G4s, who joined our table for lunch and in the next ten minutes, took us over her more than a decade-long journey of working on technology projects and experience in business processes, and upon learning about our association with Indian Women Blog, held on for another five to know more about the work we do. There’s something about organic networking, isn’t it!
And just as we were stepping out of the conversation and lunch arena, we got introduced to Priya Deepak from Kitch.in. With whom we sat for the next 30 minutes, learning about her natural and sustainable cookware brand that she co-founded four years ago, and heads single-handedly now. A social enterprise, through her brand Priya works directly with manufacturers and artisans to source the raw materials, and in the process has created employment for women and opportunities of skill training for youth. (Stay tuned to get more snippets from our at-length conversation)
A little after the beautifully strong performance by Kung Fu nuns from Leh, who through it shared a snippet of their self-defense training regime, commenced the award ceremony, and increased the energy of the room manifold with cheers and accolades.
With a lot on our minds to absorb and process, from meeting with and listening to some incredibly focussed, dedicated, and inspiring women, we set out, echoing Mr. Suresh Narayanan’s (CMD Nestle India) words from his talk, “Men are 50% prepared and 100% confident, but women are 100% prepared and 50% confident. Get over it and trust yourself.”
Well, it’s time to do just that!