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A touch of pink brings the Woman of the Future award to Southeast Asia

Sharon Nadeem
Sharon Nadeem

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Thu, October 19, 2017 | 08:38 am
A touch of pink brings the Woman of the Future award to Southeast Asia

Twelve years ago, Pinky Lilani embarked on a mission with her “Women of the Future” award to identify, recognize and celebrate emerging women leaders in the UK. (Pinky Lilani/File)

Twelve years ago, Pinky Lilani embarked on a mission with her “Women of the Future” award to identify, recognize and celebrate emerging women leaders in the UK.

The award, for women under 35, celebrates women who have achieved tremendous success in their respective fields covering a range of categories including technology, bussiness, sport, media and entrepreneurship.

Past recipients included the youngest CEO of a catering shop on one of London’s exclusive streets and a 19-yearold who discovered two asteroids.

Earlier this year, Pinky visited Malaysia where she met a number of successful and inspirational Southeast Asian women.

An entrepreneur herself, who has been working tirelessly for the last 30 years to empower women, she thought: “Why not bring the award to South East Asia where there is a need to encourage and support up-and-coming women?”

As with most things Pinky sets her mind to, she succeeded in finding sponsors, gaining support and setting up the award in the region.

Categories for the award include professions and business; entrepreneurship; arts and culture; community and public service; construction and infrastructure; media and technology and science.

The nominations opened in July and we have already received our first entries, said Pinky. “We’re really excited about branching out into South East Asia.”

Candidates for the award are judged by a panel that will make its deliberations on Nov. 20. Winners will be announced at an awards evening at the Hilton Singapore on March 20. Women who are citizens and residents of Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Cambodia and the Philippines are eligible for the award.

“What we’re looking for are inspirational people with interesting stories who have battled the odds to achieve what they have. That doesn’t mean we’re trying to take anything away from people who have had easy lives. We’re looking for role models with great personalities,” said Pinky.

While the award doesn’t have a monetary benefit, it creates opportunities, access to a global community of female leaders and to validate their achievements, she added.

“We once had a nurse, who was also a poet, performing her poetry at one of our events. She did such an amazing job that she was invited to perform at Buckingham Palace in front of Queen Elizabeth. It was an incredible opportunity for her,” said Pinky.

Shortlisted candidates are invited to join The Women of Achievement Ambassadors Program that arranges for women to visit schools and inspire young girls. In the UK, these women are also part of The Inspirational Women’s Network, another group that Pinky founded.

“It’s a vibrant community of inspirational and emerging women whom other women can take inspiration from,” she said.

Pinky hopes to replicate this model in South East Asia, bringing together women in the region to help, support and motivate one another. But all good things take time.

“We spent 12 years in the UK to get to where we are. It will take some time to build it up here,” she said.

Southeast Asia is the first step to achieving Pinky’s goal of building a global community of female leaders.

“Women are inspiring wherever they go. I want to bring them together,” she said.

Pinky added that it is easier for women to achieve their dreams nowadays compared to 30 years ago when she started her journey.

“There are policies in place, but I think it’s all about selfbelief first. If you believe in yourself and are passionate, you can achieve what you want.”

When asked what the secret of her success is, Pinky has an unusual answer for someone who has carved out a name for herself in the often ruthless world of business.

“Kindness and collaboration are key factors. People often don’t realize that a little kindness can go a long way,” she said.

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The writer is an intern at The Jakarta Post

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