Dancing Damsels continues tradition of hosting gala event; Reiterates mission to empower women
By Megha Subramanian
Toronto: Dancing Damsels Inc. that has been celebrating women’s day by felicitating women’s contribution to Canadian society for the last five years, celebrated this year too at Toronto’s City Hall.
The event witnessed several perspectives on women empowerment and the state of women in society today. The opening speaker, Hon. Raymond Cho MPP (Scarborough North) remembered his mother in Korea, who had brought him up with a mindset of helping others. He acknowledged the contribution of women in his team and his wife, who have enabled him in becoming the person he is today. He also emphasized that women’s empowerment should be a man’s priority as well.
The keynote speaker, Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women Canada National Committee & CEO of Almas Jiwani Foundation, mentioned that education is the basis for empowerment and that there are already five countries in the world on the path of women’s empowerment.
The 2019 DD Women Achiever Awards ceremony opened with a felicitation by Hon. Dr. Asha Seth – past Senator and a patron of Dancing Damsels. The ceremony began with awarding Nova Bhattacharya for her contribution to performing arts, followed by Vanessa Vakharia for her contribution to Mathematics education, Thanadevi Mithradeva for her contribution to Indian Classical music education, Lindsey Lickers for her contribution to the empowerment of the Natives, Dr. Prema Vaidyanathan for her contribution to women’s health, Meena Chopra, for her contribution to English Literature, Deepa Sairam for her volunteerism and the Rising Star Award to Sylvie Stojanovski for her contribution to performing arts. These awards were presented by Hon. Dr. Asha Seth, Hon. Raymond Cho, Almas Jiwani, Derek Spooner – Executive Director of Scarborough Arts along with past award winners.
The highlight was the Chief Guest, Dr. Roberta Bondar Canada’s first female astronaut and the first neurologist in space who awarded Delores Lawrence and Kathleen Wynne, the former Premier of Ontario with DD Lifetime Achievement Awards. This was initiated by the very accomplished, Aruna Papp and Dr. Menaka Thakkar, along with Raymond Cho and Almas Jiwani.
Both the lifetime achievement awardees interestingly had very different views on empowerment; Delores Lawrence lauded the society and especially the banks for coming a long way, from her needing her husband’s co-sign for getting a bank loan, to now women being able to get loans without a male co-signer. She also stressed on the need for more nurses in healthcare. Kathleen Wynne, on the other hand, asked the citizens to scrutinize government policies, so that governments are careful about making empowering changes for women and the citizens. She noted that there has been progress, but there is still more to do, in terms of addressing equal pay and equal opportunities, irrespective of gender.
Randy Persaud, an award winning speaker and broadcaster made the entire event lively and engaging. The event concluded by entertaining music and dance performances; saw a myriad of focused contributors to society. Canadian Multicultural Network (CMN) generously sponsored this inspiring event.
Dancing Damsels, staying true to its objectives PEACE (P – Promote Cultural Art & Cultural Exchange E – Empower women to exercise equal opportunities A – Appreciate women successes and achievements C – Celebrate Womanhood and Motherhood E – Encourage women to pursue their dreams and aspirations), has shown that acknowledging women’s contribution to society plays a very important part in empowering women.
The event was smoothly conducted and coordinated by Dr. Mary Ashok its Managing Director, and Directors, Gita Sankaran, Dr. Animol John and Dr. Soni Rajan.
Photo Credit: Kannane Digital Studios