International Women’s Day (IWD) is a time to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women and recognise their contributions to society. Each year, people worldwide participate in activities that promote gender equality and empower women.
This year, the QI Group went the extra mile to make IWD even more special. RYTHM Foundation, the social impact initiative of QI, hosted a series of events to promote gender equality and inclusivity in the lead-up to the main celebration on March 8.
The first was the ‘Embracing Equity Charity Bazaar’. Employees set up various food, beverages, and product stalls to raise money for Taarana School, RYTHM’s centre for differently-abled children. The bazaar was a huge success, raising substantial funds for the school and bringing the QI community closer.
The Foundation also joined hands with the Human Resources Department to launch a new series of fitness classes to help all employees, particularly women struggling with a time crunch, to focus on their health. The first set of classes was held in Malaysia in QI Tower as part of the run-up to the IWD celebration.
To help everyone express their artistic side, the Foundation also organised a creative ‘Kolam’ competition. A Kolam is an ancient style of traditional decorative art drawn on the floor using coloured rice flour and is popular in South Asian cultures. Men and women of QI were encouraged to team up and create IWD-themed patterns, and they did not disappoint!
These joyous and meaningful events went beyond mere revelry; they served as a testament to the potency of communal bonds, creative expression, and concerted efforts.
The build-up to March 8 also included visits to two welfare organisations dedicated to aiding underprivileged children – The Agathians Shelter and The Pure Life Society (PLS). At Agathians, the Foundation contributed stationery sets to its resident boys.
At PLS, the Foundation called on the incomparable Co-founder and Life Chairperson of the NGO, Datin Paduka Mother A. Mangalam, to present her with the QI Group’s ‘Excellence Award for Exemplary Female Role Model.’
Embracing Equity: A Call to Action
On a more introspective note, we remained mindful of the underlying significance of IWD as a moment to inspire reflective contemplation and galvanise action towards expediting gender equality.
The finale showcased a compelling programme in step with the #EmbraceEquity theme of this year’s IWD.
QI Group’s Founder and Executive Chairman, Dato’ Sri Vijay Eswaran, and Chairperson of RYTHM, Datin Sri Umayal Eswaran, led the power-packed afternoon emphasising the significance of embracing equity in every aspect of life. They were joined by Santhi, members of the QI Board of Directors, senior executives, and employees.
The day’s highlight, streamed live to our global offices, was an insightful and engaging Q&A session hosted by Datin Sri Umayal with two outstanding women representing RYTHM’s long-standing partner organisations – Dr Madhavi Panda, Founder and Director of Parinaama Development Foundation in India, and Amara Wichithong, a former Olympian windsurfer and master trainer with ASA Foundation in Thailand. Dr Madhavi and Amara’s emotional stories of overcoming significant obstacles to achieve their goals inspired the attendees to pursue their dreams with passion and perseverance.
As founder and director of the New Delhi-based Parinaama, Dr Madhavi has an illustrious history of working with civic and social organisations to address community issues and build stronger societies through tangible outcomes.
Since winning several world championships and competing in the Olympics, Amara’s passion for sports, the environment, and women’s empowerment has led her to active advocacy and activism in these areas of public interest.
Watch this video for a glimpse into Dr Madhavi and Amara’s story, alongside highlights of RYTHM’s IWD celebration:
In welcoming the guests and participants, Santhi stressed that equity was far from a buzzword at the Foundation.
“On the contrary, since we established RYTHM, parity and justice have been at the core of our mission. We firmly believe that everyone, regardless of their gender, deserves equal opportunities and access to resources.
“Likewise, our definition of equity is not just about treating everyone equally but about recognising and addressing the unique needs and challenges different groups face. This is why we have a range of programmes and initiatives that specifically target marginalised and underrepresented communities, including women and girls. We are proud that our efforts have made a real difference in many people’s lives,” Santhi added.
In correlating equality and equity, Datin Sri Umayal said in her speech, “Equal opportunities are no longer enough and can be exclusionary rather than inclusive.
“Equality means everyone is given the same resources or opportunities. Equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.
“Equality gives everyone a shoe, and equity gives everyone a shoe that fits,” Datin Sri Umayal added.
She urged QI’s women to be more proactive in charting their professional futures. “If you feel capable, take on more significant challenges and deliver (results). Tell us what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and how it will work for us.
“Until and unless you believe in your potential, nothing will work. But embracing equity also means allowing yourself the growth to be the best in what you do,” Datin Sri Umayal noted.
Dato’ Sri Vijay expressed similar viewpoints, underscoring the importance of how women must recognise that they can achieve much more than they have.
“Let nothing stop you. I can tell you about women who have literally shaken the world to its core and rewritten history simply because they believed in themselves. If they could do it, why not you?
“At QI, we have made every effort to create an even playing field. As a result, gender parity here is overwhelmingly in favour of women,” Dato’ Sri Vijay noted.
He cited the example of Malou Caluza, the Deputy Chairperson of QNET, QI’s flagship business.
“A classic example is Malou. She started as a receptionist at this company but didn’t allow anything to hold her back. The only thing that can prevent you from climbing and reaching out to the stars is you. It’s as simple as that.”
The event culminated in a short but poignant video of Mother Mangalam receiving her award and sharing her thoughts about compassion for others and women’s strength.
Widely regarded as “Malaysia’s Mother Teresa,” she has devoted much of her life to helping disadvantaged children. To her credit, nearly 2,000 of them have been empowered through the organisation since its inception in 1952.
Notwithstanding her service to humanity, Mother Mangalam is also eminent for her outstanding contributions to fostering national unity.
Watch the video below for the recent visit and insights into Mother Mangalam’s wisdom:
As the event drew to a close, Dato’ Sri Vijay presented Datin Sri Umayal with a bouquet of flowers and Mithila artworks produced by Parinaama’s beneficiaries. This traditional Indian art form is noted for its plant-derived colours and bamboo stick brushes.
The gesture served as a recognition of Datin Sri Umayal’s unwavering dedication to RYTHM’s causes and a fitting conclusion to an inspiring event.