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IACA and TAMA celebrate International Women’s Day

May 2024
IACA and TAMA celebrate International Women’s Day

On January 28th, the India American Cultural Association (IACA) launched the Women’s Forum during its Republic Day celebrations in Atlanta, keeping with the women-centric theme of India’s 75th Republic Day. To commemorate International Women’s Day (IWD), the newly-formed IACA Women’s Forum, in association with the Telugu Association of Metro Atlanta (TAMA), presented a conference at Jade Banquet Hall in Duluth on March 10, 2024.

 [Left] IWD team and participants.

The conference featured keynote speeches by Dr. Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited and Biocon Biologics Limited and Sucheta Rawal, an award-winning South Asian food and travel writer. There were thought-provoking panel discussions, recognitions, and performances from trailblazing women who broke barriers, defied stereotypes, and rose up to leadership roles in their fields. The event also recognized inspirational local Olympians Mary D’Souza and Lata Cinnan, whose life stories elevated the experience for the attendees.  

“International Women’s Day is a powerful reminder of the ongoing struggle for gender equality, and the remarkable progress that has been achieved. It is a day to honor the achievements and contribution of women while also recognizing the systemic barriers and discrimination,” Dr. Mazumdar Shaw, the keynote speaker, remarked. As she observed, the struggle dates back to the early 1900s when IWD came into being. Lack of education, access to capital, and a level playing field, Dr. Mazumdar noted, were some of the challenges faced by women in entrepreneurship. She also emphasized the need for access to education, healthcare, and security to empower women in leadership roles. Citing examples from her own journey, she emphasized the importance of perseverance and adaptability in the face of adversity.

AT_IWD1_05_04_24.jpg“Happiness comes from choosing to do something you’re passionate about,” Rawal noted in her keynote. Rawal talked about her experiences in pursuing her passions despite cultural norms and societal expectations. She shared her journey from a corporate job to becoming a successful travel writer, author, and entrepreneur, highlighting the importance of following one’s passion and not conforming to traditional career paths.

[Right] One of the panels discussed women’s health.  ​


Moderated by Neeti Diwan, an author and entrepreneur, the Empowering Entrepreneurs discussion featured Nita Sardana, Chief Impact Officer of the Innova Foundation; Kanchana Raman, President Avion Networks; and Arti Kumar, Owner of SMS Trading. The discussion stressed the need to stop overthinking, overplanning, overanalyzing, and start doing. In entrepreneurship, the panel concluded, the unknown can be the greatest asset when you are starting out.


[Top] IWD attendees.​​

Dr. Ritu Ahuja, the Director of Principal Leadership for Fulton Schools, and Viji Namburar, Principal of Woodward North Academy, transported the audience into the world of education. As someone who coaches principals of Fulton schools, Dr. Ahuja expounded on the responsibilities of her role where she guides heads of schools to serve, educate, and administer schools better in a “safe space.” Honored with the Principal of the Year award in 2017, Dr. Ahuja spoke of the various policy changes she made throughout the school system that garnered her the recognition. Namburar stressed upon the role of a principal who bears the responsibility for people’s most treasured items—their children and money. The panel, that was moderated by Jyothsna Hegde, arrived at the conclusion that achieving leadership roles, particularly in the field of education, comes with a lot of responsibility because ultimately educators play a key role in shaping young minds and the future of a nation. An appeal was also made for more of the diaspora to get involved in the field of education.

Dr. Lalitha Medepalli, GAPI President and panel moderator for the health panel, discussed heart health. Dr. Keshma Saujani offered OB/GYN tips. Dr. Nandini Sunkireddy, specializing in family medicine, lifestyle medicine, and obesity medicine, addressed lifestyle hacks. Dr. Sumana Moole, a gastroenterologist, focused on digestive wellness.​ 

The ‘Navigating the Legal Landscape’ panel was moderated by Sheetal Desai, attorney and partner at The Trusted Lawyers, a Desai Law Group, PC. Desai expertly walked the audience through the complexities of AT_01_05_24.jpgthe legal system to protect their rights and empower themselves. Attorney Anandhi Rajan expounded on business and personal litigation, Bhavya Chaudhury elaborated on family-based immigration law, Sonjui Kumar explained the nuances of business law, and Deepa Subramanian talked about employment law.

[Left] IWD panelists and attendees.

Appropriately named “ Mind Matters’, the Mental Health panel featured well-known psychiatrists Dr. Sreedevi Vayalapalli and Dr. Kalpana Prasad, along with the prominent clinical psychologist Dr. Ayesha  Suneja, as the panelists and was moderated by Nivedita Garabadu, a clinical navigator at the  Independent Living Facility. Topics such as severe depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disease, and how to seek help for such disorders, were analyzed. Dr. Suneja explained the factors that prevent women from seeking help from mental health providers and the role of shame. Menopause and its effects on mental health were also discussed as was another important topic, postpartum blues, by Dr. Vayalapalli.​

A themed dance by Divya Anand, who chose Olympian Mary D’Souza as her inspiration at the venue, led into the final discussion. The Sisterhood panel successfully highlighted women who have triumphed in building supportive communities, serving as sources of inspiration and solidarity. Through their diverse approaches, these women demonstrated the power of connection and collaboration, paving the way for others to follow. By sharing their stories, the panel underlined the fact that no one is alone on their journey through life and that together, meaningful change can be created.

“As one of the representatives of the IACA Women’s Forum, my vision for this event was not just about imparting information but rather to have meaningful conversations that will provide needed intellectual stimulation and foster heart connections amongst the entire collective of women gathered there. And it feels like that happened. Seeds of sisterhood, of multiple sisterhoods, were sown that day. Additionally, we made a small but meaningful contribution to Mother Earth by substituting plastic with compostable plates and other eco-friendly alternatives. Moreover, we opted to gift live plants to our guests, further promoting sustainability and environmental consciousness,” said Gita Vemparala, Program Director of IWD.

 Remember, we have new Website Bonus Features that are not in the print magazine. Every time you see the W symbol in the print magazine, you can go to our website to see additional print or audiovisual material!

Submitting your report for consideration in Around Town

Please send post event reports for consideration in the Around Town section to AroundTown@khabar.com. Publication of reports is based on several criteria including the volume of reports submitted for a given issue. Guidelines for the reports are on our website at http://www.khabar.com/magazine/around-town/guidelines_for_submitting_reports_to_around_town. Deadline: 15th of each month—for consideration in the following month. However, chances of inclusion are better if reports are received well in advance of the deadline – where possible, e.g. within 3-7 days of the event.

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