July 3, 2018

WIL (Women In Leadership) commenced in the year 2014 in pursuit to inspire female professionals from different fields to reach the peak of their potential and to celebrate women’s success. Keeping this in mind WIL has been orchestrating five separate sub-projects – Women Leadership Summit, Inspiring Women Award, Bangladesh Women Professional’s Network, Leaders of Tomorrow and WIL Publication.

WILFEST 2018 was commemorated in association with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Presented by Freedom Sanitary Napkin, it was an initiative by Women In Leadership; for the very first time a three day program was organized between 8th to 10th March 2018 and the theme of the festival was Owning and Visibility. Owning represents the self-belief and confidence through which women professionals embrace themselves to achieve success through their individualistic essence. Visibility entails how they represent themselves and in turn impact and influence their perception in society. The three day festival was an opportunity to celebrate the awe-inspiring professionals who have so eloquently demonstrated their persona in their expert fields, to owning their self-belief and creating impact in reflecting their visibility in their work place.

There were multiple components of the festival that took place simultaneously and was open to the public as suited to their interests. There was a strong message behind the architecture of the festival and the significance was accentuated with the initiation of the festival on International Women’s Day and an evident connection with SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women. Women have a critical role to play in all of the SDGs with many targets specially recognizing women equality and empowerment as both the objective, and as part of the solution. In many nations, gender discrimination is still woven through legal and social norms. Keeping this in mind WIL strives to provide the platform to empower all women from various professions and spaces and the fest was a reflection of this.

The objective behind this initiative was to create a rewarding experience designed and dedicated for the women of Bangladesh in the form of learning, grooming, training, recognition, entertainment, storytelling and so forth. So that women realize their true potential and utilize their skills in the best possible way to be visible in the society. As well as for women to familiarize with the WIL platform and it’s multi-dimensional initiatives. This was open to the public and designed to attract audiences such as professional women, homemakers, students, women from all spaces and their support system.

The key components covered in the fest that celebrated Women and their association to Owning and Visibility took place through the following; 3rd Women Leadership Summit, to unite the voices of women from across the nation and to provide them with a platform to address the multiple issues regarding women leadership and its challenges. The summit also hosted Global Keynote Speakers and Panel Discussions. The underlying message of the 4th Inspiring Women’s Award was to officially recognize women’s efforts in the corporate scenario; to empower women professionals and create role models in society (at both individual and organizational levels); to pave the way for future awards. This year’s IWA was not only to award women’s success and hardship but also to reward them for their bold and ongoing pursuit of embracing challenges in the society to excel in their professions in 15 categories.

Freedom of Choice Exhibition,  a female centric art exhibition that told stories of women’s lives, challenges, success and many more through photography, attire and visual art. Encouraging both women presented art and women reflection art. Exhibition was also open for sale and there was coverage through communication via social media, connections and invitations. Professional Training and Workshop, the 3-day training program was aimed to train women professionals to create their own space in the society to mark their positions in the corporate industry in the areas of Professional Skill Development, Emotional Intelligence, Self-Discovery, Skills for Women Professionals, Communication, Presentation, Technology, Finance and many more. The trainings were conducted by the top tier HR heads for women where they discussed the urgency of women professionals in the industry, how to ace their game and explain the ways they have facilitated women through their organizations. In dialogue and discussion zone, the 3-day dialogue & discussion program was aimed to make the women of our society own, develop and discover themselves – that ultimately made them visible to the society. There were corners where there was a setup for discussions on Menstrual Health, Psychology, Mental health of women, Physical health of women and Teens & Parents.

The Start-up zone, was to facilitate growing ventures by female entrepreneurs or ventures that focused on services for women. The discussion zone facilitated interested women willing to learn about the challenges and opportunities from the female entrepreneurs, and the 15 showcasing spots introduced these startup services to women. REMIX workshop by the School of Slow Media (SoSM) that is a media training that transforms leaders, creatives and change makers into mindful listeners and effective storytellers. Through immersive experiential learning in Southeast Asia, SoSM aims to attune one’s storytelling skills, refuel their creativity and reconnect them to the humans at the heart of every story. From a selection process, 16 participants were handheld through Creative Confidence: Participants experimented with new skills through a different Art form and Empathetic Collaboration: They were teamed up with strangers across cultures and languages to create something unique together. Mindful Productivity: They learn different tools to slow down in order to create fast and Technical Media Skills: Through hands-on learning of the entire creative process, participants learn about pre-production, production, and post-production.

Some more interesting engagements of the festival included Women Empowerment Campaign Showcasing, Agency Campaign: On male & female perspective of “Women Empowerment” in women professionals’ career journey and University Campaign: On male & female perspective of “Female Biasness” in universities for upcoming women professionals. There were Live Performances with live music, dance performances, drama and live art performances. Food stalls with a variety that was equally recommendable for the audience and Interview Booths to capture the enthusiasm of the audience and participants in this special festival that was all about celebrating women.

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