International Women’s Day (March 8) is a day about moving women’s equality forward, empowering other women, as well as celebrating our achievements and role models.
DIVERSEcity Community Resources Society did all that with an International Women’s Day Event on March 5, 2020, at its Community Campus in Surrey, BC, featuring a special funding announcement to a small Surrey-based women’s non-profit society.
“Women’s equality is important to me and shapes how I lead DIVERSEcity. One of my favourite initiatives is our donation to a smaller women’s organization for International Women’s Day,” said Neelam Sahota, CEO, DIVERSEcity, a community services organization serving immigrants and refugees in Surrey, BC for 40+ years.
“As a first-generation Canadian, I recognize the power and privilege of that, but the journey hasn’t always been easy and on many levels still continues to be a challenge as a racialized female leader,” added Sahota, who is a 2020 YWCA Woman of Distinction Finalist in the non-profit category. “Reaching a point where you can create platforms for others is not only an honour — it’s a responsibility and a critical component of women’s equality.”
On past International Women’s Days, DIVERSEcity has donated funds to smaller women’s empowerment organizations, including Surrey Women’s Centre, Jeremy’s Memorial Foundation, West Coast Leaf and, this year, to Shakti Society.
The Shakti: Empowerment of Women, Children and Families Society, is a non-profit society dedicated to empowering individuals, families and communities, by creating awareness around current issues impacting women, children and families and collaborating with similar societies to enhance services available to women, children and families. It also hosts the Shakti Awards, which this year is celebrating 20 years and is being held in Surrey on March 7, 2020.
“Sonia Andhi, the founder of Shakti, is a force to be reckoned to be with and I know that she will utilize this donation to propel the work the organization does with incredible impact,” added Sahota.
“The very essence of ‘Shakti’ is the celebration of feminine energy, and our formal mission started with the celebration of International Women’s Day in 2000,” said Sonia Andhi, after accepting the donation from Sahota. “Our work is embedded in creating meaningful spaces and conversations to raise awareness and change around women’s rights.
The event continued with just these kind of conversations, opening the floor to the packed room of women, including City of Surrey Councillor Linda Annis, Indra Bhan, chief operating officer of Surrey Board of Trade, Tanweer Ebrahim, CEO of Nisa Helpline, Shahnaz Rahman, executive director of Surrey Women’s Centre, and Shara Nixon, past board president and current board director of DIVERSEcity. They shared stories of their challenges and their women role models, tying it into this year’s Canadian theme for International Women’s Day #BecauseofYou.
Sahota added: “All of us here today have so much to give and yet we don’t always take the time to honour everything that each of us has to give. Our collective wisdom, assets and inspiration is what is needed to continue moving forward to see us to a future where we are equal.”
Photo above caption (L to R): Indra Bhan, COO, Surrey Board of Trade; Councillor Linda Annis; DIVERSEcity CEO Neelam Sahota; Sonia Andhi, founder of Shakti Society; Shakti Society board members, and Shara Nixon, board director, DIVERSEcity.