By Vasudha Sharma
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
Two female-focused nonprofits in Seattle joined hands to promote advocacy for women and girls locally and globally in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Sukarya and Voice of Planet organized “Celebrating Women” on March 8, an event dedicated to spreading awareness to break down gender bias.
The event was hosted at the Renton Chamber of Commerce to highlight the contributions of women in the modern economy and their ideas, innovations, and leadership. It was a hybrid event so participants could join from different parts of the world.
Voice of Planet founder and best-selling author Vasudha Sharma emceed the event.
“The pandemic has kept girls and women out of schools and workplaces. They face rising poverty and rising violence. They do the vast majority of the world’s unpaid but essential care work. It’s time we move with full force towards changing this script,” said Sharma.
The Sukarya USA President Huda Giddens stressed the importance of women’s rights, especially in the developing world. She founded the Giddens School in Seattle in 1972 and advocated early education. The founder of Sukarya, Meera Satpathy, said in a video message that Sukarya is an empowerment initiative that globally raises awareness for women of color.
Sharma has featured Satpathy’s journey as a nonprofit founder and change maker in her book, “Why She Must Lead: Bridging the Gap Between Opportunities and Women of Color.”
Because of its tremendous work of educating and empowering adolescent girls in the urban slums of India during the COVID-19 pandemic, Sukarya became a partner NGO of the Girls Opportunity Alliance, a program under the Obama Foundation to educate girls all across the world.
Shree Saini, current Miss World America and Global Ambassador of Sukarya, gave her opening remarks via video message. Her mother, Ekta Saini, also joined. The elder Saini has been recognized for her philanthropy.
Mac Scotty McGregor, the co-founder and executive director of Positive Masculinity, a nonprofit that works to dismantle toxic masculinity cultural norms and create a healthier positive masculinity model for all people, added to the opening remarks by stressing the importance of male advocacy.
Northwest Asian Weekly Publisher Assunta Ng moderated a panel discussion called “Gender Equality today for a sustainable tomorrow: Lifting women of color at the grassroots.”
The panelists were Emily Carmichael, executive director of Emerge Washington; Zenovia Harris, CEO of the Kent Chamber of Commerce; Uparika Sharma, founder of Bellevue Azalea Dentistry; and Sumathi Chakravarthy, managing director of InfiSum Modelling.
Associate Professor Dr. Amita Vyas was the guest of honor at the event. She is the director of Maternal Child Health, Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.
Vyas stressed the importance of women’s equality and innovative ways of activism that are changing our world for the better.
Sital Kalantry, an expert in comparative law, business and human rights, feminist legal theory, and contract law, delivered the keynote address. She teaches at Seattle University Law School.
Kalantry highlighted the need for a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.
A vote of thanks was delivered to the event’s volunteers, Shridula, Franchesca Vargas, Manoj Gouda, and Daisy Ray.
The event concluded with comments from Debadutta Dash, secretary of Sukarya USA, that together, we can forge women’s equality.
Vasudha can be reached at email@example.com.