A great Buddhist philosopher and thinker of our time, Dr Daisaku Ikeda says, “The 21st century can be called the Century of Women,” and that “a great human revolution in a single individual can bring about a change in the destiny of a nation and will further enable a change in the destiny of all human kind”.

So if the two key words of this century are women and change, then this is the right time for I am Woman. I am Woman is a woman’s networking initiative to bring together women of diverse cultures, ethnicities and walks of life, to a place that helps them “step it up”, to live better and inspired lives and to tap into their fullest potential. More importantly, I am Woman is about everyday women.

I am Woman had its hugely successful first public event and launch on April 30 at a high tea event held at The Langham Hotel, where about 200 women (and some great men) attended. The proceeds from the event were donated to RAW—a charity that is engaged in rehabilitating women who are recidivist and have been incarcerated.

Speaking at the event, Founder and CEO Annu Sharma said, “We are not about a particular thought, philosophy, ideology, fad or fashion. We are about you. We don't want you to join us because you agree with or like our vision and goals. We want you to join us because we would like to know you and work with your vision, your goals, your thinking. We strongly believe that each one of us has a story and at I am Woman, we want to hear your story.”

She added, “There are several organisations working with vulnerable women, there are several other organisations working for the women in the boardrooms. However, there is a dearth of organisations that work with us, who sit somewhere in the middle. Do we not have our own struggles and challenges? Do we not need constant inspiration to aspire to be better versions of ourselves? We, who face our struggles day after day but are not defeated, are probably the most important cog that keeps the machinery of our society working. We are the force behind our families, our communities and our workplaces, keeping it all together with our strength, love and nurturing. But who is the force behind us? Or who is it that acknowledges us or appreciates us enough to inspire us to do even better? I am Woman would like to be that platform.”

Research shows us the power of sharing personal stories, not only for the person who listens but also for the person who tells it.

The star attraction for the day was Annah Stretton and her team from RAW presenting the Live Life in Colour Series. In the typical I am Woman style, the day was about sharing stories and personal journeys to inspire one another. Two girls from RAW, Ina and Jina, narrated stories from their lives that brought tears to almost every eye. This led into an inspiring interactive session.

The day was generously supported by Dame Susan Devoy, the Race Relations Commissioner, Members of Parliament Dr Parmjeet Parmar, Jacinda Ardern, Jenny Salesa and David Seymour, Counsel General Chan Sun Cha of Korea, Laila Fayden from the Consulate of Saudi Arabia, Inspector Rakesh Naidoo, Chairman of India Trade Alliance Giri Gupta, Editor of Indian Newslink Venkat Raman, Maree Howden—Deputy Chief Executive of the Southern Institute of Technology, Chami Abeysinghe, Marketing Head of the Southern Institute of Technology and the charming Colin Mathura Jefferey to name a few. The event was strongly supported by several community leaders and organisations.

Because I am Woman is about helping women come out of their comfort zones, a fashion show with a difference marked the event. Rather than models, the ladies who walked the runway, adorned in the gorgeous dresses by Annah Stretton, were everyday professionals. Women who had never done anything like this before took the courage of stepping out and showing everyone else how it is done. The girls had gone through a workshop on self-expression and had received a pamper package by professional hair and make-up artists prior to the show. One of them later stated, “I am so thankful for I am Woman for challenging me to do this. I feel so liberated and confident about myself.”

There were other performances that the ladies enjoyed while they sipped on their cups of tea and enjoyed the high tea.

It was clear how all women present there clearly related to the spirit of I am Woman. Ladies at I am Woman told us: “Our phones have not stopped ringing from women wanting to be a part of I am Woman or wanting to know when the next event is likely to be. We would like to thank everyone for their support and appreciation. We will be announcing our two new projects very soon.”