WOTW: Neeru Gill
Woman of the week
Being born and raised in Hong Kong I had very little experience of what it means to be growing up in a South Asian community. All my 4 siblings (3 sisters one brother) called HongKong our home and almost believed our mother tongue was Cantonese. My early childhood memories of my Punjabi culture sparked when my naani moved to this foreign land to help raise us. From there on, it was love at first sight for all things Punjabi. The more I learned, the more I realized the setbacks and the barriers for the women in the culture. Growing up, we usually heard the concern from friends and families, that my parents have the burden of marrying off 3 daughters. Despite the social pressures, my mother was very focused and strong minded in her approach of how she wants to raise her kids especially her daughters. Education was a priority in my household. Thanks to her, I am pursuing my MBA at Queens University and I wish to be a strong representative of the future female leaders in my domain. After volunteering internationally and working on gender equality initiatives, it quickly becomes evident that its an uphill climb. So one of the best ways to fight the good fight of breaking gender stereotypes is to put a positive spin on the issue to enable acceptance. In 2011 my sister, Sumeet Gill and I along, with a few strong and ambitious young women at Nach Balliye started an initiative to celebrating the birth of baby girls, “LOHRI FOR HER.” It allowed us to invite the community to a meaningful celebration, showcase local talent, convey our message on raising sons and daughters as equals. The concept was an overnight success with recognition from across the nation. We were overwhelmed with how positively the community reacted including the fathers and brothers of the baby girls. With the support of the community, our small group of talented youth at Nach Balliye then rolled out another beautiful concept of Pink Ladoos and delivered boxes of this sweet treats to mothers of all newborns at the local hospitals in the Peel Region on International Day of The Girl Child.
Till this day, aside from some amazing personal and professional achievements, these are by far the greatest WIN for us and our community specifically . The fact that we can celebrate our differences of opinions instead of breaking each other is quite a celebratory achievement. Feminism for me is to promote equality, freedom of choices and respect. For women to be their own S-HERO! And I hope to continue this fight in my personal and professional life with a goal to inspire more young women to believe.