April 2014 \ NRI WOMEN

 Reena Ranger, chairman and co-founder explained that the event was meant to discover how each one of the speakers pursued big ambitions and became pioneers in their respective fields, the secret to their success and how one could use lessons from them to seize big opportunities and fulfil great ambitions for ourselves. Women Empowered (WE) had the privilege of hosting Gurinder Chadha OBE, Ahlya Fateh and Rishi Rich.

Speaking to almost 140 guests, Gurinder Chadha said that her idea of thinking big came from the dialogue in one of her most successful films, Bend it Like Beckham, and the character Jess Bhamra. “Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend it like Beckham?!” Gurinder spoke about how whilst growing up she was told what to do and how to behave, much like Jess Bhamra had to in the film. She said that Jess was always going to have it all, the only question was how she was going to get there. To answer that question you had to think big and look within yourself, remember your younger self and overcome challenges in whichever way you could. It would not always be simple but the answers lay within you. If you want to achieve something and your reasons are correct, you would get there.


She said she wanted to challenge the perceptions of British Asians in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the prevailing inequality and prejudice of those times that she had witnessed that propelled her journey. She still has to fight battles and the power to do so comes from wanting to overcome barriers and obstacles. She said that at times she had asked herself “why was she the one who always had to push the envelope?” Today she has an answer, it lies in the fact that she is a Sikh and has stood on the shoulders of the Sikh male and female warriors who fought for justice, their beliefs and equality. So when you want to think big then draw strength from your childhood and your history.

Ahlya Fateh began with the importance of education, especially in developing countries, and the positive impact it has on the mortality and life of a girl along with the positive impact that it has on the county as a whole. She went on to say that we all owe it to ourselves too. The chances that we have been given to be grateful for our own empowerment can be used to help other women who may not have felt what we have felt, and who may not have enjoyed the opportunities that we have had.

She spoke of her strong ethic, her journey and her ambition. She also spoke about how she also grew up with being told what to do. She spoke of the importance of loving what you do but understanding that you must also pay the bills and went on to say that we only like to do the things we are good at but sometime it is a better to battle the things we aren’t naturally gifted at. It teaches you humility and respect for those who have skill that you may not possess. She sees that problems are now solutions waiting to be found.

She went on to say that when faced with an obstacle, you should ask yourself, “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” The answer may seem ridiculous at first but it would still lead you to a solution you may never have found if you were paralyzed with fear in the first place.