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Monday, 11 March 2013

Powerful hearts, powerful minds, powerful souls

Hello everybody!

Maybe it's a little too late to wish you a happy Sunday, but I won't miss wishing a wonderful Mother's day!
I hope you all have spoiled your mums enough today and that you had yourself a wonderful time...

Sadly, I couldn't spend the day with my mum because she is in italy atm,
 but I've sent her a nice card and I've managed to fill its envelope with loads of love... 
do you think she is going to receive it? ;)
I must say I missed her a lot today, but maybe even more yesterday when I went to an amazing event organized by the lovely Zainab I've already been telling you about.

We all gathered in the Parliament offices

 to attend a conference about Women Empowering, which I thought was such a good idea to celebrate the International Women day which was actually on Friday.

When I got the invitation from Zainab on facebook I immediately confirmed my presence, but to be honest I really didn't have enough time to find out more about the event I was attending, due to the crazy business which has never left me for a minute in the past weeks.
But still, trusting Zainab's ability to put together a great event and being very interested in the topic, I just went there without knowing what to expect.

(Chiara, Lou and I sitting in the audience) 

Well, as it often happen when you don't really know which kind of thing you are about to be a part of, it surprised me in such a positive way.

First of all, the location was great, as the offices of the Parliament are in the heart of the city, very close to Grafton Street, which would have been very easy to reach even if Lou didn't come to pick Chiara and me up in college with her car.

But what really shocked me was the amount of great personalities and hosts who took part to this event.
Not only as audience, who eventually took the chance to spend a word about themselves as we were waiting for the actual speakers to come up, such as Tina Williams who just won the award as African Designer of the Year and is now editor of "African New World";

but also an impressive singer who has taken part to the Voice of Ireland and was there as a good friend of one of the panel speakers, and of course Lou who introduced her brand, Raw Art Chic, that you very well know about and encouraged everybody to stay afterword when she was going to showcase some of her best pieces.

Wissam, Zainab's partner and of course organizer of the event welcomed the audience and introduced the speakers, also mentioning Campo Marzio, the Italian leather brand I've showed you the photo shoot on and which they were taking the chance to promote on that day as well...

The actual speakers, as I said, were incredibly good:
First of all, Ifrah Ahmed, who has lived in Ireland since 2006 and has been involved in various projects involving UNICEF, Amnesty International and Integration of African Children in Ireland. In 2010 she set up a non profit organization, United Youth of Ireland, 

with the aim to support young people from migrant communities in the artistic and creative business, and who was the mediator of the conference.

(Ifrah Ahmed introducing the conference)

After her, Mary Lawlor took the word.
She is Executive Director of Frontline, organization which internationally supports human rights and whose speech I found very interesting, as she did not talk a lot about the org itself, but focused much more on the true stories that she herself has seen since she started working with Frontline.
Stories of women who have been menaced in despicable ways just because they raised their hands and expressed their opinion, or because they tried to defend other women and help them in a cultural environment guilty of rape, violence and murder.
For example Mexican lawyer Luce Castro, who has been threatened to death after trying to improve women rights in her country and who said: "If a doctor was working in Africa and an epidemy was spreading, should the doctor leave and set his practice in Switzerland? That's the same here, the epidemy is spreading and that's why I have to stay".
But she also told us other stories which have taken parts at the opposite corners of the world, in Nicaragua, Congo where is the capital of rape and Afghanistan, which made me really realize how us women have some kind of proud and strength about us that doesn't change despite different cultures and backgrounds and that makes us all what we really are: fighters, able to stand up for ourselves and the ones we think should be defended.

The third speaker was a very different woman, the beautifully put together Maureen O'Halloran, Entrepreneur and founder of, retailing online company which has just been taken up on a franchise from Spain, which Maureen proudly announced before to start her speech.
She looked very classy and sophisticated, and that's why I was very surprised when she started telling us about her rough childhood, marked by the abuses of an alcoholic father and her teachers who didn't understand her difficulty as a dislessic child also affected by ADD.
Despite all this struggle, she remembered about the important role if another strong woman in her life: her grandma, who helped her to find herself and her way into life by following her one big passion: design.
That's how she became the youngest student in her college in Galaway and completed a 3 years course in 6 months.

Then, she decided to get into Internet, which was a complete unknown world for her: "If Google was a man, I would have been jailed for stalking" she said, telling us about how she learned everything by researching on her own and find out all the informations she needed, without caring about the ones who tried to bring her down and who sometimes, believe it or not, were women.
"Women can be the worst to themselves" said Maureen "and they should stop!".
Instead, they should start appreciating each others' ideas much more, because they are probably the most powerful thing someone could have.
"You are a multi tasker, but do it with clear mind and clear heart, if not karma is going to come back and bite your butt".

(The speakers, from the left: Maureen O'Halloran, Emma English, Cathy O'Connor and Mary Lawlord)

Useless to say: I absolutely loved her.
She was inspiring in a way that only someone who has been going through a lot in life can be.

After her, the authority and host of the conference appeared and took the microphone: Emer Costello, ex Lord Major of Dublin and member of the EU Commission, who was of course very significant.

(Emer Costello answering some questions from the audience)

But another speech I absolutely loved was the one made by another woman whose past in not only eventful but very complicated and, sometimes, definitely unlucky: Emma English (or Emma Kevin as she was before to get married to the love of her life and business partner), founder of Couleur Production, one of the leader Fashion Show&Event Management companies in Ireland.
She told about her past for the first time, telling us how did she go on even after finding out to be affected by serious illnesses, getting pregnant at a very young age, working and studying and finally finding her luck and her love in her husband James.
Her speech really made me think how even if you don't come out of a particularly hard situation like Maureen's one, life can be sometimes very mean and challenge you more that you would have expected.

In both cases, the strength you need is a lot, but really, a lot.
Not everybody could manage to keep going in these kind of situations, but these women did and they did not just survive, they became extremely successful, which is why they absolutely are an example not only for us young women who are finding our way to express ourselves and realize our dreams, but for everybody, men included, if they'll recognize how great these personas are.

(women from all over the world gathered together for the event)

Last but not least to talk in front of the audience was the super cool stylist Cathy O'Connor, who has recently spotted Lou's creations and made them hers, and who despite the very short and funny speech I found absolutely fantastic.
"There's no point in being anyone else" she said at some point "anyone else is taken so why not just trying to be the best possible version of yourself?"
Very inspiring, but most of all: absolutely true!

(Sami, Karen and me)

Also, she made us all reflect on the fact that sometimes is us who represents our worst enemy and the person who criticizes us the most. Because of that, we should just focus on who we really are and follow our heart and our dreams with no regrets.
Which I definitely agree with, as it's exactly what I try to do every day, be not too hard with my own self.

After the conference we had lunch and part of the room was closed because while the audience was being delighted eating and sipping refreshing drinks, behind the separe' they pulled up the organizers were setting the showcases of Campo Marzio 

and Lou's collection.

(Lou and I with her beautiful model during the showcase)

But also, the table the speakers had bee sitting at was removed to let Dilan Walsh and Aidan Clancy play their music.

(Dilan Walsh and Aidan Clancy being presented by the organizers Kamila and Zainab)

They were so lovely, and so good despite their very young age.
With that, the afternoon went on, and the Woman Empowering went from a conference to a 360degrees event, with belly dancers and initiatives being promoted all over the room, while the audience and the hosts all together were enjoying their time and having a blast, even if the weather outside was particularly awful.

 (The ladies: Zainab, Karen, Chiara and me)

A whole sun was shining in the room, thanks to the personalities who made the day and to the sparkle they lit up in the audience's souls.

That was really the best way to celebrate our identities as women, our hearts, our minds, our powerful souls.

And you, both men and women, kinds, people,
stay tuned!


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