Year 7 student creates organisation to empower young women

The first-ever Spirit & Soul event, “When I was young,” was held recently at Te Papa’s Learning Lab in Wellington. A great lineup of speakers addressed a group of girls, from years 7-10, eager to listen and learn.

Solnet is a proud sponsor of Spirit & Soul, an organisation established by year 7 student, Jaskiran Kaur Rahi. Her mission is to empower young girls to be the best version of themselves possible; to break through any barriers holding them back from their dreams; and to leave a positive mark on society. Jaskiran has many interests but wants to pursue a career in coding alongside her already busy schedule!

Jane Hwang, General Manager of Solnet’s Auckland office, had the pleasure of meeting Jaskiran at the Westpac “Women of Influence” forum last year.

“I was so impressed!” said Jane. “Jaskiran inspired everyone in the room with her goals and determination. When I found out she was taking steps to turn her vision into reality, I was ready to offer support. At Solnet, we value diversity because it makes our team stronger. We also believe encouraging young women to follow their ambitions helps send the message that technical and engineering roles are career opportunities for anyone. There’s a gender disparity in the IT industry and we welcome change through such forums.”

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Jaskiran, pictured right, updates some of the mentors present at the event.  

At the event, Nicole Rosie from WorkSafe New Zealand encouraged everyone to follow their interests despite what others think. For example, she commented that even if maths, science and engineering are viewed by those around you as “for boys”, study these subjects anyway.

Jo Cribb, former Chief Executive the Ministry of Women, explained how much she used to worry about things that didn’t matter when she was young. Her story assured the girls that it’s OK to be different from their peers and to speak their mind, even when it feels scary to do so.

Penny Gilford, an Inspector for the New Zealand Police, spoke about her dream of serving on the armed offender squad as a dog handler. While she faced real obstacles on her journey, she inspired the young women in the room to look for ways around any barrier that may appear.

Other mentors who attended and shared pearls of wisdom were Helen McKay, founder of Juno Legal, a collaborative law firm; Priscilla Loong, Activation Manager for Mahuki, Te Papa’s Business Accelerator Programme; Katie Daly, an 18-year old student who founded non-profit organisation Hygiene for Homeless; and Natasha Tae-Lynch, Transactional Manager for Westpac Bank.

Spirit & Soul aims to continue producing events and workshops providing inspiration for young women.