Published: 25th July 2020
Reboot, reset needed for a new world: WEF's first-ever digital summit brings together powerful women, insightful views
The panel held across two days is slated to see over 150 sessions and 400 speakers from around the world discussing major global issues and occurences
On July 25, the Women Economic Forum commenced their first digital event, the WEF Bangalore Global Digital Summit hosting over 150 sessions and more than 400 speakers spread across two days. The event, coordinated in Bengaluru in partnership with the All Ladies League, was on the theme ‘Reconnect, Reboot, Reset: Reenergising the Enterprises in the New World’ with a wide array world leaders, industry experts and celebrities from various industries.
“A reboot and reset is extremely important for the new world,” began Violeta Bulc, Former Deputy Prime Minister of Slovenia and the European Union Commissioner for Transport in her inaugural keynote speech. “COVID has invited us to focus on reconnecting the world, ourselves, our families and friends. The internet is a tool, it would be very dangerous to think of it as a destination. What we must remember is that technology does not have its own opinion or challenge us with its thoughts. It can very easily be switched off. When we are speaking to each other, it is so much more meaningful, it’s an opportunity to challenge ourselves.”
Dr Mythri Shankar, Lead consultant of Nuclear Medicine at Aster Hospital in Bengaluru discussed the experience of working at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Canadian-Indian actress Lisa Ray shared her own brush with the world of medicine when she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells. In a session about the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (POSH) Act, Sonal Mattoo, Non-Executive Independent Director at Ashiana Housing Limited and Vmart Retail, spoke about how companies can make the workplace safer for women.
In what was described by the moderator as a session ‘curated to perfection’, Lakshmi Menon, CEO of Express Publications (Madurai) which publishes The New Indian Express, Anuja Chauhan, bestselling author, Preethi Srinivasan, founder of Soulfree, Roopa Pai, children’s author, Mita Kapur, founder of Siyahi India, Diya Kar, publisher at HarperCollins, discussed ‘The Power of Words’.
“I remember visiting my grandmother in our ancestral hometown in Kerala,” recollected Lakshmi Menon. “Once, we were travelling by car and she asked to stop the car. She pointed us to an unkempt pond nearby where a beautiful lotus had grown. She asked us to always remember that the world around us may always be dirty like the pond but to make sure that we are clean as the lotus. That is something that has always stayed with me in my life.”
She continued, “Words have tremendous power. It is very important to use them judiciously as it has the power to heal, divide and destroy. This is what we remind ourselves when we bring out the newspaper every single day. From our legacy of fighting against, today we decide to fight for. We have a huge number of reporters who are sensitised to use their words positively. Rather than using them to create despair, let’s look at creating hope.”
Anuja Chauhan who famously came up with the caption ‘Yeh Dil Maange More’ continued on the same note to speak about her own relationship with words saying, “Words contain entire worlds based on how you sting them together. It’s the best box of crayons, you can do whatever you like with them. Personally, I use it for escapism and the brighter side of things”. Preethi Sreenivasan spoke about having made it into the Tamil Nadu cricket team at the age of 8 and the accident that led to her being paralysed at the age of 18.
Lakshmi Menon, CEO of Express Publications (Madurai)
The session ‘Women in the Driving Seat’ featured Vandana Suri, Founder of TaxShe and Richa Agarwal, Cofounder and CTO of RideAlly spoke about how ride sharing platforms have adapted to the post-COVID world with an important focus on knowledge and safety. Vandana said, “We are always working on fixed modules, sanitising the car after every single ride and working on a fixed clientele. There is no randomness, knowledge is good out here”. Richa added, “Female drivers have had a difficult time financially. But they have trust and faith that things will get better. We have given small loans and offered to clear their debt in some cases to help them survive.”
The conversation also steered towards the changing face of healthcare following the Coronavirus pandemic. Dr P Sivakumar, a med-tech professional spoke in depth about the attitudinal shifts that the crisis has brought about and how COVID-19 has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for healthcare technologies by answering the needs of the hour.
The conversation will continue on July 26 with a number of important topics being discussed. Eminent personalities such as Rosalía Arteaga Serrano, Former President of Ecuador will have graced the event. Dr Suchitra Kaul Misra, author, poet and toastmaster is also slated to be part of a discussion titled ‘The Science of Laughter’. Ranjini Ganesh, Founder of NIR-Bhaya Self Defence Academy spoke about create awareness about abuse/rape and the importance of self-defence. The forum found space for a range of other important subjects like gender intelligence and inclusivity in rural economic development.