Interview by Megan Foo, President of Women LEAD’s Hong Kong Chapter
Of Chinese ancestry, Estelle Ah-Kiow is a fourth generation Mauritian. Currently based in Mississauga, Canada, she is pursuing her undergraduate studies at the University of Toronto.
For the past four years, Estelle has worked with Strength Within Girls Group (Swiggtalk.com), a non-profit that has a mission of building self-esteem and leadership skills with teenage girls. As an integral member of the SWIGG team, she has helped build and develop key areas of the organization. Through her exceptional networking, Estelle has interviewed girls and women of influence from around the globe, and has been instrumental in planning a series of leadership conferences in the Greater Toronto Area. Her main motivation working with SWIGG is to continue reaching out to girls at what is often a difficult time in their lives, and help them achieve their full potential.
Committed to raising her voice on issues that she feels passionate about, Estelle is a member of Plan Canada’s Because I am a Girl Speakers Bureau and a regular contributor to The NextWomen Business Magazine.
Women LEAD: What is your background?
I was born and raised in Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean, and I’ve called Canada home since I was twelve-years-old. Currently a student at the University of Toronto, I am pursuing post-secondary studies in International Affairs and French Literature.
Women LEAD: You are a Regular Contributor at The NextWomen, the first award-winning online Women’s Business Magazine and networking forum. Can you tell us more about your work with The NextWomen?
TheNextWomen.com is an online business magazine launched in 2009, delivering fresh, exclusive content daily and providing a global hub for entrepreneurs, executives and investors to share, inspire and connect. A strong and rapidly growing social media presence and a weekly global newsletter complete The NextWomen Media.
As a regular contributor to The NextWomen, I interview high profile entrepreneurs from around the globe. It is real a privilege to be able to have conversations with those incredible women who are leaders in their respective fields, and learn about their successes, but also about the challenges and roadblocks they’ve had to overcome, as well as the lessons learnt from the failures they’ve faced before “making it” in the business world.
Given my background in the non-profit sector, I’m also committed to putting the spotlight on social entrepreneurs whose ventures are helping fix some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Women LEAD: You are also a Delegate for the Girls 20 Summit, which mobilizes women and girls for economic impact on local, national and international scales. Can you tell us more about the Girls 20 Summit?
Designed according to G20 Architecture, on an annual basis, a global Summit is held. This annual event brings together one delegate from each G20 country, plus a representative from the European Union and African Union, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the MENA region to discuss, debate and design solutions that will economically advance girls and women around the world. At the Global Annual G(irls)20 Summit delegates engage with international experts, consider recommendations made by the Summit’s partners and thru a moderated session, design and then deliver a set of recommendations in the form of a communiqué to G20 Leaders for their consideration.
Women LEAD: In addition, you are a Blogger at the Girls Action Foundation, a national charitable organization that builds girls’ skills and confidence and inspires action to change the world. Can you tell us about your role with the Girls Action Foundation?
A few years ago, I participated in the Girls Action Foundation’s leadership training in Jouvence, Quebec. After learning about the remarkable work that the organization is doing and getting acquainted with members of the GAF’s incredible team, I decided to become involved by writing for Kickaction.ca, the non-profit’s online platform. We just wrapped up Kickaction’s annual Blogging Carnival, which helped start some great discussions on important issues facing young girls from across Canada.
Women LEAD: What does empowering women mean to you?
To my mind, empowering women means giving them the tools they need in order to achieve their full potential.
Women LEAD: Can you talk about women who have impacted you in your life?
My mother, who ran her own business while raising my brother and I has always been one of my greatest inspirations.
I’m also very lucky to have had some amazing mentors, who have guided me every step of the way, from wonderful teachers such as Ms. Anita Urbano and Ms. Irene Kent to Lindsey Higgs at Plan Canada, Emma Cosgrove at War Child Canada and Sheena Moya-Chen at Safe City Mississauga. Liz Coulson, the director of Swiggtalk has probably been the mentor who has had the greatest impact on my life, and I credit her for helping shape the person I am today.
Women LEAD: Are there websites or books that are inspiring you right now about gender equality?
- Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wu Dunn
This book should be a reference for aspiring social activists, and reading it was one of the catalysts in sparking my passion for gender issues. The Half the Sky documentary was also released on PBS in 2012.
- Miss Representation (documentary)
- The G(irls)20 Summit’s Youtube Channel
Panels on fascinating issues, featuring international experts.