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  • Writer's pictureProject Empower Circle

Panel Discussion: Amplifying the Voices of Womxn and Minority groups

Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie." - Gloria Steinem

For the month of September, we hosted a panel discussion around amplifying the voices of womxn and minority groups in the workplace. Our panelists included Hajer Nakua (PhD Neuroscience Student), Deena Baikowitz (Founder of the Fireball Network) and Vicky auf der Mauer (Program creator of Decolonizing Money). The discussion was moderated by Nikoo Aghaei. You can watch the entire conversation here!

Check out these 5 takeaways from our panel discussion!

1. Find your confidence

Our panelists shared their personal stories about gaining confidence in their respective fields. Deena’s story stood out as she opened up about being a shy child and being bullied by her peers. She recalled being part of a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ production and finding her confidence through theatre. Once she found this confidence, it empowered her to help others find this within themselves. Once she was able to find her own voice, she could help others find theirs and collectively work to amplify the voices of womxn.

Try new things and you may be surprised by finding confidence in the most unlikely of places!

“To me, it's about the power of the collective and the community… and helping each other in whatever way it plays out” - Deena Bakowitz

2. Everyone has something valuable to offer

No matter what your profession or work, you have something valuable to offer! This is an important concept that Hajer highlighted when asked about how we can work to reduce barriers womxn face at work. She pointed to a leaky pipeline that prevents womxn from reaching the top positions in many fields and a culture of workaholism that can put womxn in a double-bind, especially when they are also expected to take on the bulk of domestic responsibilities. In order to overcome these barriers, it is important for womxn and people of colour to see someone like themselves in leadership positions. One step that can be taken is to provide support and offer mentorship to others. We are all capable of that!

“Each person in any field has something to offer someone and once that is identified, that needs to be given immediately” - Hajer Nakua

3. Connect with yourself

Our panelists all had their own unique journeys to arrive at where they are. What appeared as a common theme was becoming self-aware and being in tune with yourself in order to find your voice. Vicky shared her experiences as an indigenous womxn, and the historical impact of oppression that prevented her from connecting with herself and asking ‘what do I want?’. Vicky demonstrated courage and took the time to connect and begin healing to discover what truly matters to her. This led to her becoming a Money Mindset Coach for indigenous womxn and work to decolonize money beliefs.

Once you connect with yourself, you can begin connecting with others and help others connect with themselves!

“I thought I had it all… because I had the shoes and the purse and the condo in the sky...but I was angry” - Vicky auf der Mauer

4) Use social media to have a positive impact

Our panelists discussed how they used their social media as a tool for advocacy and the potential it has on generating a positive impact. We all connected through the use of social media to bring together our panelists and to host this insightful discussion. We need to begin harnessing the power that social media gives us for good and use our platforms to support others.

It can be as simple as sharing a post on your social media and following accounts that you believe stand for the values that are important to you. The act of liking, commenting and sharing posts can be a simple way for you to advocate on social media!

5) Have a vision for yourself and the world around you

Having a vision and setting goals for yourself that align with your vision is important. Our panelists shared their vision for themselves and the world around them. The commonality between them all was that they wanted to have a positive impact and they outlined the importance of leading by example.

“I want to continue to mentor underrepresented groups who are passionate about science… but may not feel that science is the place for them” - Hajer Nakua

“I want to embrace my role and the reputation I have built… I want to step into my power and use my platform to collaborate with those who are like me and those who are not like me” - Deena Baikowitz

“I want to be a demonstration of financial stability and affluence for indigenous womxn … and to be a demonstration of what is possible for them. We cannot wait for outside reconciliation… so I have to take that in own hands. The most powerful way for me to do that is teaching womxn” - Vicky der auf Mauer

You can check out the full talk here and a description of our panelists below!

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This post was written by Pallavi Dutta.


About our Panelists!

Hajer Nakua is a PhD student studying computational neuroscience at the University of Toronto. Her research uses brain imaging tools to better understand the relationship between brain activation patterns. Beyond her research, Hajer is passionate about knowledge translation, and uses social media to share her journey as an academic with her North American and Middle Eastern followers (in both English and Arabic).

Deena Baikowitz is the Founder of Fireball Network. She is a business and career coach, dedicated to helping professionals build their confidence, connections and communities. She is passionate about marketing, branding, networking, and creativity.

Vicky auf der Mauer is a proud Inuk from the Qikiqtaaluk Region of Nunavut, turned Urban Inuk living on the the land of the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat, Anishinabek Nation, the Chippewa, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations, that we call Toronto. She is a former 5-star event manager for A-List celebs, and co-founder of the small restaurant business, Porchetta + Co., turned intuitive life, business, and money mindset coach, serving mainly Indigenous Womxn. She is on a mission to help Indigenous (and all) Womxn uncover the money beliefs given to us by the very systems that historically and currently oppress us. She has created a program and process called Decolonizing Money.

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