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Canadian Women Making a World of Difference

Canadian Women Making a World of Difference

Each year since 2008, The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) presents the prestigious World of Difference award to 100 champions of women’s economic empowerment. The award is a celebration of extraordinary women and men that have made an impact on the lives of women in their communities.

The awards were presented on October 18, 2019 in Sydney, at a joint forum organised by TIAW and Australian-based organisation Women Chiefs of Enterprises International.

Canada Down Under interviewed some of the amazing Canadian women honoured at the forum, and below is what they shared with us. Thank you to each of the women featured in this story, and congratulations to all World of Difference award winners.

Kamal Basra | Co-Founder, Sophia Financial Group

Award Category: Community

1. What does the World of Difference Award mean to you?

As women, our life experiences are different than men’s which means we have different perspectives on issues, different ideas, and different solutions to problems. This is the value of diversity of thought and why it is vitally important that we break down barriers to enter professions and industries that in the past were established and run by males.

From a young age, I have learned to ask, “but why does it have to be this way?”, and when the answer came back, “that’s the way it’s always been”, I’ve taken on the responsibility to show it can be done differently. At times it can be difficult and lonely. Like a fish swimming upstream, we are changing established norms and ways of doing things. The World of Difference Award is an acknowledgment that this work is important and needs to be done. It makes me feel seen and appreciated and I am very grateful for it.

2. What is one piece of advice you would share with young women entrepreneurs?

Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Believe in yourself and build a network of strong women who will support you on those days when the challenges seem insurmountable and celebrate with you when you achieve success.

Tina Tehranchian | Senior Wealth Advisor and Branch Manager, Assante Capital Management Ltd.

Award Category: Community

1. What does the World of Difference Award mean to you?

I am truly honoured to be among the inspiring group of women and men who are receiving the World of Difference Awards this year. Receiving this award only confirms my belief in the importance of giving back to the community and supporting the growth and economic empowerment and wellbeing of women. By helping women, we can help their families, their communities, the next generation of leaders that they will help bring up and ultimately make a difference in the world. By recognizing individuals that have taken positive steps in this regard around the world TIAW helps reinforce these beliefs and values.

2. What is one piece of advice you would share with young women entrepreneurs?

Having started my own business 28 years ago, I am very familiar with the struggles of young female entrepreneurs. My one piece of advice would be to always put your family first. If you work hard and make smart choices your business will ultimately flourish. However, if you do this at the expense of your family and by foregoing the quality time that you need to spend with your young family, you will never be able to make up for that lost opportunity.

Andrea Plawutsky | Owner and director, Amplify Me | Forum Co-Director

Award Category: Entrepreneurship

1. What does the World of Difference Award mean to you?

The World of Difference Award is a real honour; I’m only just beginning to recognise the significance of it as I read about the incredible works of the other awardees from across the world. Many of the awardees are the ‘unsung heroes’ achieving great changes in their local community and within their areas of passion.

I’ve received the award in recognition of my work with Women Chiefs of Enterprises International Australia (WCEI). A not-for profit organisation, at WCEI we pride ourselves on the support we provide other women business owners and leaders, and the emphasis we put on being ‘Inspiring Women Leaders’.

WCEI is headed by a number of accomplished women, from whom I’ve learnt a great amount. They continue to motivate me to aspire to more. Being recognised with the award, from amongst their ranks, is a great privilege.

2. Were there any key themes or priorities for you when co-organising the forum?

In developing the speakers’ list for the ‘Women Making a World of Difference’ Forum, we wanted to tell a diverse range of stories – from women with different backgrounds, different points of view and across different sectors.

We agreed on four key streams that don’t always receive as much airplay when discussing women’s achievements and empowerment:

• Authenticity and ethics
• Empowering women in developing communities
• Business needs a plan ‘B’
• Engineering success in STEAM

Catherine Boivie | Chair, Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services

Award Category: Non-Profit/NGO

1. What does the World of Difference Award mean to you?

For me this award highlights the importance of each of us doing what we can to advance and support women to achieve their potential, not only in the local community but everywhere we can. Making large systemic changes can seem impossible, but if we each reach out and make a difference in the lives of a number of individual women, whether it is few or many, collectively we will see a broader societal change as we empower new change makers.

2. What is one piece of advice you would share with young women entrepreneurs?

It’s hard to give just one piece of advice. You need a can-do attitude regardless of the obstacles. Finding the positive in everything is important. Women are notorious for feeling inadequate when they are actually more than capable of doing whatever they put their minds to. Furthermore, they must not allow setbacks to discourage them, but should consider every mistake a learning opportunity. And network, network, network, with your peers, women groups and you individuals who have gone through the same experience as you are going through now.

Soha El Baklawy | Founder, Businessita Women Empowerment initiative

Award Category: Corporative Initiatives for Women’s Economic Empowerment

1. What does the World of Difference Award mean to you?

I proudly won the “World of Difference” award from TIAW & WCEI associations (with UN WOMEN support) as the first Egyptian-Canadian to win such an award for conducting one of the best initiatives for women economic empowerment, globally. Noting that the “World of Difference “award is an award of recognition and appreciation, expressively overjoyed to be the first Egyptian-Canadian to win such an award. Placing not only Egypt on the world’s map for women entrepreneurship, but reflecting such a success resulted from being raised in Canada and continuum of maintaining the Canadian culture and raising even after moving back to Egypt.

2. What is one piece of advice you would share with young women entrepreneurs?

You can never connect the dots forward but they are all connected backwards. Sit back and let your path take you where you are meant to be. It’s not an easy ride, nor is it supposed to be, but it’s supposed to be worth it. Buckle up and get ready for the emotional, physical and mental roller coaster ride, learn to pause often, celebrate small steps and most of all have the persistence and passion to keep going. Be ready to have the world against you or not value what you do, but simply all you need to do is work hard and be resilient and the world will do the rest.


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Canada Down Under is an on-line portfolio of Canadian-Australian stories produced by the Consulate General of Canada in Sydney and other contributors.

Canada Down Under est un portefeuille en ligne d'histoires canado-australiennes produites par le Consulat général du Canada à Sydney et d'autres contributeurs.

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