Google’s ‘WomenWill’ program debuts in Sri Lanka

Wednesday, 18 April 2018 01:58 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Text and pix by GitikaTalukdar

Gender gaps hold the world back. Focusing on giving equal status to women, Google commenced a ‘Women Will’ programas a global initiative to help bridge the gender gap and empowerwomen worldwide, by focusing their resources, time and technology to erase thegaps.

In this context Google officially launched ‘WomenWill’ Sri Lanka on 7April at the MAS Innovation Centre. Around 200 females from different age groups from various industries and sectors of Sri Lanka attended the event. 

Giving a brief introduction of the program, Manager GBG Sajini Jayawardena said that Google’s aim was to support and develop programs so women in every market could connect to the information they need and the tools to make the most of it to help them learn, succeed, and be heard. 

“There are four programareas where we work to erase gender gaps, based on Google’s mission and we feel the opportunity for us to have the most significant impact is in digital literacy, entrepreneurship, inclusive workplace, and leadership,” she said.

“‘WomenWill’ will create economic opportunity for women everywhere, so that they can grow and succeed. Helping women make the most of technology to build skills, get inspired, and connect with each other through trainings, events and advocacy, we aim to drive conversations promoting gender equality to benefit everyone.This enables women worldwide to connect with like minds and be a part of a global Google community. 

“‘Women Will’ and GBG (Google Business Group) have played important roles in setting clear objectives, ensuring continued visibility of Google’s commitment to narrow the opportunity gap and empower people to harness the power of technology for growth and innovation,” she added.

‘WomenWill’ Sri Lanka Head Indu Nanayakkara briefed about the day-long programand stated Google Business Group Colombo had been functioning since 2012 when the program was launched globally and since then they have run over 250 events reaching out to over 15,000 people in the local IT and business sectors.

GBG is Google’s community for entrepreneurs and business professionals to come together, build relationships and learn from each other and industry experts, to get inspired and drive business success. GBG is present in over 35 countries with over 150 chapters globally.

Equalpay for equal jobs

Keynote speaker of the event Editor and PR Consultant Ajita Kadirgamar gave a presentation on a World Bank report and emphasised on equal pay for equal jobs.Mentioning the World Bank Report 2017, she said Sri Lanka had the 17th largest gender group in the labour force participation globally.

“Data shows that the work environment for women can be much tougher in the private sector rather than in the State sector, which can lead to a sense of insecurity. The private sector needs to take up the challenge to create a conducive environment that attracts women to work in the private sector.Womenat all levels of educational attainment find it increasingly difficult to find and secure high skill and higher paying jobs,” she added.

She also highlighted the lives and careers of Sri Lanka’s best women entrepreneurs and their success stories. She spoke about Odel Founder Otara Gunewardene and Sandara Wanduragala of Selyn Exporters Ltd. and mentioned Selyna Peires who is currently looking after the business as Business Development Director, while also speaking about Janet Group of Companies Founder Janet Balasooriya.

‘Just a girl who went for it’

During the ice-breaking session on the topic ‘Just a girl who went for it,’ zMessenger CEO Jayomi Lokuliyana motivated the crowd with her success story.She said that for every female to flee from all barriers and come out of the dilemmalike whether it is the right time, expectations of motherhood, family and children, etc.,first a female must feel free to contribute to the economy of a country.

The total population of Sri Lanka is 20,932,514 and 52% are females. Only 32% of females are working in Sri Lanka which sets back our economy because the majority of females are staying at home due to dilemmas relating to in-laws, husbands, children, security, etc. 

“When I quit my job to start zMessenger, I was heavily pregnant but that challenge was a life-changing decision and it changed my life.My belief is that people with average ability can achieve extraordinary things through persistence as I was an average student but it’s only my hard work,dedication and persistence that lead me to where I am today,” she added.

‘Think like an Architect’

Favourite GroupHead of Brand Karin Wijeratne talking on the topic ‘Think like an Architect’ said that people should think like architects. 

An architect first chooses a land to build a building and takes measurements and if the measurements are incorrect than that house or building may not perfect or can fall.So without giving equal opportunity to a female, the building of the society can’t be a perfect one.So equal and perfect measurement is required in every field and sector to grow the status of women so that she can compete with the world without any discrimination.

‘A YouTube Journey to Fame’

Speaking on ‘A YouTube Journey to Fame,’ Roshni Kumarasinghe shared her successful fame journey in the makeup world.She said that when you look good,you feel good. When you feel good,you will always perform your best. Beauty is all about a person thinks about themselves.She said: “It’s only your confidence which can help you to expose your inner beauty.”

“Since childhood I was interested in applying makeup and always using my mother’s makeup kit without going anywhere else to get a beautiful look before any party.I was in corporate sector but I left the marketing job and wanted to do something on my own. Despite various up-downs of life, with a clear vision I started my journey as the first beauty blogger of Sri Lanka and started my YouTube channel ‘Beauty by Rush’. Now people know me and gradually I am doing well.I will suggest to women that their confidence is the most important and the vision must be clear, whatever they like to achieve and with that initiation the journey will become beautiful and successful.”

Small steps lead to heights

CEO and Founder of Glitteray Rayhana Jiffry shared her journey with the crowd and how her online jewellery retailing platform recently raised a series A round of funding. She discussed how data was used to optimise the performance and cash flow of the startup. 

Rayhana also described how she prepared for another round of investment and her criteria of selecting an investor. She also gave few tips to the audience on how to approach an investor and suggested the key points to keepin mind before signing anything.She advised the participants to use social media to grow their business, no matter how small it is. “A small steps can lead you high in the life so never stop dreaming, think high and always try to fulfil your dreams with a positive initiation,” she added.

‘Face-Lifting an Entire Industry,’

Christell Skin Clinic Medical Director Dr.Shanika Arsecularatne speaking on the topic ‘Face-Lifting an Entire Industry,’ said: “I am a fan of biographies and out of the many books I have read, ‘Mother Theresa’ influenced me the most in terms of her empathy and service towards humanity, which I admired. I also admire Sir Richard Branson and Donald Trump for advice on entrepreneurship and successful management of businesses so with a motive to keep a balance between my passion and business I have started up my own clinic.With the help of social media I grew my business.” She stated people should not hesitate to use the apps available. 

Talking about medical tourism,she said in the medical tourism sector 70% females and 30% maleswere working with a total market size of $50 billion. Top medical tourism destinations are Thailand,Hungary,India,Singapore,Malaysia, Philippines,United States,Brazil,Taiwan and Turkey. She said that the total tourism growth of Sri Lanka in the past three years was 17% but on the other hand worldwide growth of medical tourism over the last year was 25%. She suggested that the Government should put more effort into the medical and medical tourism sector, which would increase the overall growth rate of tourism in Sri Lanka.