Category Archives: Women

Women’s History Month

While there does seem to be incredible chaos in the world right now, there is still cause for celebration.  Last month was Women’s History Month and we are coming up to the centenary milestone of women’s right to vote – ratified in America on August 18 2020.  There’s a lot to be happy about.

We take this opportunity to look at three of the amazing women in our very own communities: T. “Ayo” Alston, Siobhan Summers and Katy Winge.

T. “Ayo” Ashton  is today known for the Ayodele Drum and Dance Community that she established in 2009 This educational body was made for women to help them with their own self-confidence and to in turn, create strength in their local communities.

Born in Brooklyn, Ashton first found her love for Orisha culture and West African dance as an adolescent and since then she has focused her journey on exploring art, development techniques and growing in these areas.  Some of the artists she has worked with include: Baba Chuck Davis, Dierdre Dawkins, M’Bemba Bangoura and Mouminatou Camara.

Supervising producer at Chicago’s video production firm Bottle Rocket Media, Siobhan Summers started her career on Oprah Winfrey’s show in the production team.  Since then she has developed her skills to successfully create meaningful tales with powerful messages.  This involves the supervision of all productions from A-Z.  Her love of storytelling creates interpersonal connections that she has helped grow among her local community.

Katy Winge was the very first female analyst hired to cover the Nuggets for Altitude TV.  Getting to that role was not easy.  She began her career as a sports anchor, producer and reporter for KTTC/FOX 47 and at some point faced a fork in the road – carry on with her role or take a break and pursue a Masters degree in Journalism.  She opted for the latter and studied at Northwestern University, IL.  Even though she was advised by many to continue in her role as getting experience would be preferable to getting an education for career development, she went with her “gut” and does not regret that decision at all.  She explains that she got so much out of the education, including the people she met, the things she learned and the network she created which all played a big role in where she is today.

Today she tells everyone to “go with their gut” which obviously is different for everyone.  We all need to find our own journey.

So, in these trying times, let’s look at what we’ve achieved and how much more there is to do, no matter what situation we currently find ourselves in.

World Hindu Congress

The 2018 Hindu Women Forum (HWF) organized a Hindu Women Conference at this year’s World Hindu Congress that was held in Chicago last month at Hotel Westin, 70 Yorktown Shopping Center, Lombard.

The conference is held every 4 years and is an amalgamation of Hindu women from “diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and professions, including business, science, politics, and the arts, to share ideas and experiences as well as their contributions to variety of spheres.”

Triumphant Women of Chicago

Women are Chicago are strong, authoritative and successful.  This has been the  message across the different industries in business recently.  First, there was The Women’s March on 20 January whereby 250,000 women “marchers [came] together in downtown Chicago at the intersection of Congress and Columbus to celebrate the spirit of the resistance efforts over the past year and unite to focus on the 2018 elections and beyond.”

But that was not just a stand-alone event.  Prior to the march, there was a rally that took place between 11 a.m and 12:30 p.m. between Congress Parkway and Columbus Drive, featuring local speakers who discussed:

  1. women’s rights,
  2. getting women in more powerful official/government positions,
  • DACA recipients and Dreamers – deportation issues
  1. the ongoing struggle need for equality and fair representation of all citizens in the electoral system.

Speaker Asha Binbek of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, denounced President’s Trump’s platform of ‘Mak[ing] America Great Again,’ arguing that

Our different backgrounds, should be celebrated. Our race, our gender, our sexual orientation, our religion, whether you were born on this soil or sought refuge here or a future being able to come here to celebrate each other and support each other’s causes. This, THIS, is what makes America great!” Our need to be civically engaged has never been more important than it is now!”

At the end of last year, EvolveHer was launched.  Two factors are of note here in terms of timing: a) the #metoo campaign and b) the Women’s March.  While the concept of a co-working space exclusively for women is not a new one, it has been welcomed in Chicago.  With 5,000 square feet in office space, there are standard office amenities (kitchen, lounge, phone booths, etc.) and also those specific to women (milk pumping rooms, make up areas etc.). Women-related workshops are also held on subjects such as “finding your purpose,” and it is hoped that in the future 7-14 year old girls will be offered basic business classes. As Alicia Driskill, company founder pointed out:

“We have such great women’s groups and female entrepreneur vibes in Chicago, but there’s really no place to centralize it and bring us all together. We really wanted to create community, and be community driven, so that women can get to know each other and really elevate each other and support each other on the business front.”

The space can hold approximately 100 people working at once and the networking potential for these already powerful women is amazing.