Amazing TEDxWomen event in Singapore
I just went to an amazing event in Singapore. Two TEDx events in two weeks, I feel so lucky. Today was TEDxWomen called “Perspectives Without Borders”. If you couldn’t attend, here is a summary.
Grace told us about social entrepreneurs. In the past, in “World Change 1.0”, you had to be rich and brave to change the world. Bill Gates is an example of this, as he created his own foundation as a way to give back to society.
Grace’s hypothesis is that a fulfilled life can be created, can be engineered. So how can we get to this point? Her advice is to spend money on experiences and not on products, as we grow tired of products but the fulfilment we get from traveling for example is unique. You also need to ask yourself not what you can do for the world but what the world needs from you.
First, you need to know your passion: something you love doing AND something you’re great at doing. Then, you need to use your passion. Finally, your passion and what you do need to be valued and recognized by society. If you follow these steps, you will become happy/happier.
Society has evolved – you no longer need to be rich to change the world. You still need to be brave, but in “World Change 2.0”, world change is in the hands of many, not in the hands of few. In the past, success equaled power which equaled money. But right now, success is being redefined at every level.
Social entrepreneurship is just a glimpse of what is about to come – be crazy in your head and kind in your heart and the rest will follow.
Nikki gave a very inspiring talk about sanitation. 40% of the world (2.6 billion) don’t have access to clean toilets, and yet sanitation is key to development.
In the Millenium Development Goals, sanitation was forgotten and only added two years later in 2002, which shows how sanitation is ignored among many. People talk in euphemisms, they talk of going to the “restroom” and not “toilet”, but Nikki said quite bluntly (and rightly) “we need to talk about shit”.
The lack of access to clean toilets is key to understanding some of the poor countries’ problems. Children – and particularly girls – are denied their right to education because their schools lack private and decent sanitation facilities. When girls are on their period, they usually skip school for 5 days or so. How can gender equality be achieved if girls have to skip school because of the lack of private sanitation?
The lack of sanitation creates a lack of confidence, of trust and dignity. The sanitation crisis results in the release of hundreds of tons of feces and urine each day directly into rivers, lakes, landfills, creating an immense human and environmental health hazard. Every day thousands of young children die from sanitation-related illness (eg diarrhoea).
We’ve exceeded the tipping point – the world needs more toilets, and this is the only thing that is going to get poor countries out of poverty.
Lila is a martial arts instructor and told us that martial arts is not just about fighting or self defence. Martial arts is the art of fighting and healing. Masters not only master their bodies but their minds.
After being a lawyer for 6 years, she decided to quit her job. She went with her husband on a martial arts world trip which lasted for 4 years. Along the way, she met a lot of masters, and one valuable lesson she learned is that “life is short, just be happy”.
Martial arts is a man’s world, so she had to continuously push herself to continue. At some point during their trip, they ran out of money, and one night in Canada, they only had one egg to share between the two of them. But they laughed and imagined it was a very gourmet meal. The takeaway from this anecdote is that we are the ones who choose how to react to things, either positively or negatively. Just like the child who falls and decides to laugh or cry.
Life is a fight against ourselves for ourselves. Life is a choice. Her message to women is that femininity is a strength in life.
So-Young had a beautiful story to share. First, she told us that the world is obsessed about happiness and that as a result, we hide behind walls and masks when there is a problem.
She shared her personal story, how her father abused her mother when she was a kid, how her brothers mistreated her, and the only way she saw to get out of this environment was to do well at school. She went to the US to an Ivy League school, joined a very prestigious bank, was promoted to the role of VP, then joined a consultancy firm and was about to be promoted when she said STOP.
So-Young had lived behind a “shiny mask” – a mask of all of her achievements. But this time she chose not to run away and slightly opened up her compartments of pain to be more true to herself. For example, she understood that her problem with beauty originated from her childhood when her brother used to call her “ugly”. So she talked to her brother so that finally she could move on. She did this with each problem at a time to be “whole” again.
So-Young teaches us that we are all broken and to experience joy and beauty in the world, we need to work on our problems, one at a time. It is a very moving and powerful message, because our society is obsessed with happiness and we are taught to say that ‘everything is fine’ from a young age.
To conclude, it was such an inspiring event at TEDxSingapore once again and I can’t wait for the next one!! :)