When a woman awakens ….. the world awakens

Appreciation of women's achievements driving progress in transformative technology and digital education.

Kokila Patel Thursday 16th March 2023 02:46 EDT

As part of the series of celebrations of Gujarat Samachar's 50 years journey, ABPL Group organised a special event on Women's Day to celebrate women's unparalleled contributions and achievements in the field of transformative technology and digital education. The event was held under the leadership of Convenor Krishna Pujara, Gujarat Samachar Managing Editor Kokila Patel, Manager Business Development ABPL Group) Pooja Raval. With the co-operation of Shree Sattavis Gam Patidar Samaj (Europe) and under the guidance of Maheshbhai Liloriya (Group Editor, ABPL), the International Women's Day celebration was held on March 8th at Sattavis Patidar Centre, was an unprecedented success.

On a snowy Wednesday, March 8, women from all corners of London flocked to Wembley's Sattavis Centre with great enthusiasm. More than 500 women from more than 36 active women's organisations in London participated in and celebrated International Women's Day.

On this occasion, the High Commissioner of Uganda in the UK - H.E. Nimisha Madhvani, High Commissioner of Bangladesh in the UK- H.E. Saida Muna Tasneem, Beauty Product Entrepreneur and contributor to the upliftment of women in need - Sushma Bhanot MBE, CEO of Enfield Saheli & Chairperson of All Ladies' Living in the UK, Krishna Pujara, Mayor of Harrow - Cllr Janet Mote, Conservative Councillor of Harrow - Mina Parmar, First women President of Indian Medical Council - Dr Jayshree Mehta, the visionaries of a leading firm of the diamond industry in Surat, 'Shree Ramkrishna Exports Pvt. Ltd’, respected Govindbhai and Mrs Champaben Dholakia and their family, CB Patel, Editor-in-Chief of Gujarat Samachar & Asian Voice, Maheshbhai Liloriya, Group Editor and Brahma Kumaris' sisters were present.

Smita Joshi was the Master of the Ceremony. Kokila Patel greeted everyone and presented her speech and said, "International Women's Day is celebrated on March 8 every year. The fact that you all have enthusiastically joined in such chilling weather shows tremendous public support for our publication."

Cllr Janet Mote, Hon’ble Mayor of Harrow, said, "The Socialist Party in New York began celebrating Women's Day in 1909 by campaigning for women's equal rights and fighting against sexual exploitation and oppression of women. In 1977, the UN declared acceptance of women's equal rights and declared 8th March as International Women's Day. Women have made significant contributions in many fields, including economic, political, cultural, science and technology. Harrow had famous women like Dame Vivienne Westwood, Dame Barbara Windsor DBE, Diana Ebert, and Nina Pradhania.”

The High Commissioner of Uganda to the UK, HE Nimisha Madhvani said, "Today is the day for us to celebrate Rangotsav along with Women's Day. As in Uganda, it is not as cold as here in the UK, we celebrate Rangotsav by spraying colours on each other. I will be honoured and happy if you all come to Uganda. Things are safe under the government of President Museveni. The Global Lohana Conference - Global Lohana Get-together Ceremony is being organized in Uganda on March 20. Uganda is now safer for everyone even more than London, Chicago, and New York. When Idi Amin's government kicked out Asians - Indians, our entire Madhvani family, including my maternal grandmother Meenaben, Manukaka, Jyotikaki, and Mayurkaka, had to leave the country and migrate to Britain. However, we all have played a leading role in strengthening the economy of this country. Women in Uganda have enjoyed special rights. Apart from the first lady minister of education and women vice president, women are leading football, netball, and tennis ball teams. "

As the daughter of a famous industrialist Jayantbhai Madhvani, she specially invited Mr Govindbhai, who was present at the event, to visit Uganda.

Greeting all the guests present at the event, CB Patel, Editor and Publisher of Gujarat Samachar and Asian Voice, announced in a towering voice, 'Nari Jaage Vishwa Jaage’. He thanked everyone for making the celebration a grand success in spite of the chilling weather. Maheshbhai, Krishnaben, Kokilaben, Pooja and the entire ABPL team have worked hard for organising this International Women's Day event.

While introducing the Chief Guest Mr Govindbhai Dholakia, his wife Mrs Champaben, he said, "Govindbhai Dholakia's life has aptly proved that behind every successful man, there is a woman. Champaben has successfully kept Govindbhai’s large family under one umbrella through love and good deeds."

CB Patel expressed his gratitude to Bhavnaben, wife of Mukeshbhai Patel, Chairman of Shree Sattavis Gam Patidar Samaj and to Jayendrabhai Patel for supporting the event.

Mr Govindbhai greeted the large number of women who were present and said, "I am very happy to see that you are maintaining our Indian culture while living abroad. I am a villager from Dudhala, a village in Saurashtra, Gujarat. I started diamond works at the age of six. We started the diamond polishing industry and worked hard, but later we ventured with a firm named Shree Ramkrishna Export Pvt. Ltd. Today, by the grace of god, we are named among the top three diamond firms in the world. Diamonds above three carats are our mastery. It is a pleasure to see the special woman's power here.15 of my family members are visiting London. My autobiography "Diamonds are Forever, So Are Moral" was launched in the House of Lords describing my journey from village to Surat. I have slept in a field cot and scorpions have bitten me in mud pits. Snakes used to roam around in our house every day. I did not have shoes to wear until I was 11 years old. I came to Surat at a very young age and polished diamonds for six years. Our business is net worth $1.8 billion, and my wife Champaben’s contribution is most valuable. I was 20 years old and she was 16 years old when we got married. We have never fought in our 52 years of marriage. Champaben has never visited the school but knows how to keep the whole family together. When the Director of CBI came to one of my events, he honoured Champaben with a doctorate degree. The whole of Gujarat including Surat and the CM know me as Govindkaka. Today, two of my daughters Minaxi, Sweta, Smita and Granddaughter Pearl are present along with my wife are present here."

The discussion panel on women's issues included Women Empower Enfield Saheli CEO, Chairperson of All Ladies League, UK, and Trustee of North London Asian Tax, Krishna Pujara along with Sushma Bhanot MBE who has devoted more than 15 years to helping thousands of women in Essex, London and across the UK. Sushmaben is credited with single-handedly and proactively organizing hundreds of online workshops for British Indian mothers to take immediate action to improve their mental, physical and financial health.

Discussing the subject of Equal opportunities, Embracing Equity, Sushmaben said, "This year's global campaign theme is Embrace Equity for the 2023 International Women's Day. Equality is everybody getting a pair of shoes; equity means everybody gets shoes that fit. I would even take this a step further by saying that equity is everyone getting the kind of skills that they need to excel and reach their fullest potential. Giving them a pair of shoes is an idea of equality and if it fits them then it's equity that in other words means the right thing for the right person. We all strive for positive change. You all have contributed something in your lives. Remember these principles in life: Educate everyone, Evaluate your own discrimination, Establish Policies, Encourage diversity, Elevate people and show work-life balance."

Cllr Minaben Parmar said, she is an HR Director and has more than 20 years of experience in both public and corporate sectors. Passionate about employment rights and fair representation, she runs a consultancy service for small and medium-sized businesses. She also acts as a consultant to business enterprises in the third sector. Minaben says that 70 out of 90 nurses in NHS are women. Similarly, in air-service, more women stewards are on duty than men. She said “I am really proud that through digital innovation we are empowering women and supporting more women to come to the UK. We all shine not just today, we shine every day.”

HE Nimishaben Madhvani, who participated in the panel discussion, said that many of our sisters in Britain have achieved success by working very hard. According to our Indian tradition, there is a huge differentiation between son and daughter. A daughter is not given a chance to progress. When a daughter is born, they call her Lakshmi, but, later a daughter is seen as an unnecessary weight. Differences are also kept between brothers and sisters. Today, in fighting for equality, differences and arguments arise for equal rights even among brothers and sisters. Nimishaben recollected the words of Baroness Clarke during an event at the House of Lords where she said that ago 100 years ago there was not one single woman who could step into this House and here we are today, a room full of 200 women, that is breaking the glass ceiling in the UK in the House of Parliament decision-making process.

In the Q & A session, Krishnaben said that we all have gathered to discuss on equal rights, but if we really look at it, women do not get equal pay in some jobs. There is also a difference in the toys given to a baby boy and a girl to play with. Why are women not allowed in some places where men are allowed? Digitally, Facebook or WhatsApp videos humiliating women can be said to be a kind of disrespect to women!

During rapid fire session, Govindbhai's two daughters Minaxi Sojitra and Sweta Kevadia said, "Today we were able to participate in Women's Day celebrations in London because of our dad. It is nice to see so many sisters wearing sarees in such cold weather in the UK. My mom Champaben has a substantial contribution to my father's success. Mom has kept our large family together. It is the mother who takes care of the child and builds the life. Let's talk about Indian Prime Minister Modiji, and how much his mother Heeraba sacrificed for the upbringing of his children. Grandmother can help nurture the child even more than mother."

Minaxiben said, "Dad taught us to live life by being positive and sticking to the truth. Our scriptures say 'Naari tu Narayani', a woman not only brings up children, but she also has the power to keep the family together. My mother Champaben has proved it. When a daughter goes to her in-law’s house she gets adjusted to unknown people - mother-in-law, father-in-law, and brother-in-law among others. Only a woman can do this."

As Women's Day is celebrated globally, it has been a tradition of "Gujarat Samachar and Asian Voice" to honour Indian women who bravely perform their duties as well as a man in the UK. Ameesha Bhudia, a Kutch woman who serves as a firefighter in the London Fire Brigade, and Manisha Patel, who serves as a bus driver in Middlesex County for 20 years, were honoured with a memento. Ameesha Bhudia is a Black Belt Judo Champion and European Powerlifting Champion, and Gold Medallist. Apart from this, Champaben who kept the home and family together and her two daughters Minaxiben and Swetaben were honoured.

Pooja Raval gave the vote of thanks and expressed her gratitude to the Chairman and Trustees of Shri Sattavis Gam Patidar Samaj Europe. Also on behalf of Gujarat Samachar & Asian Voice, she expressed sincere thanks to Sanjaybhai Kantibhai Amlani of "Express Ice Cream" for their support for the event.

The event ended with a special garba programme organised by garba specialist Satishbhai Shah. It was a very vibrant moment to see all the women who participated in this event dancing to the tunes of garba songs.
(photo credit: Raj D Bakrania, PrMediapix)

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter