What is the common thread that binds Houston University president/chancellor Dr. Renu Khator; human rights activist Malala Yousafzai; cancer researcher, MIT professor and biotech entrepreneur Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia; author-poet and Arjun Award-winning shooter Roopa Unnikrishnan; humanitarian and motivational speaker Cara E. Yar Khan; and 17-year-old Indian American ballroom dancer Rayna Chandra together?
Other than sharing an obvious commonality, their South Asian descent, these familiar and not so familiar women are also some of the most powerful women who are challenging social norms, and inspiring other women to follow suit. And now these trailblazers are being featured on the cover of the 2017 ‘Saris for Suits’ calendar.
Initiated in 2012 by Patti Tripathi, an Indian American former CNN news anchor, as a tool to empower South Asian women, the calendar has attempted to redefine what constitutes a modern-day South Asian woman.
Some other inspirational and empowered role models featured in this 12-month attractive calendar, which also includes their biographies and favorite empowerment quotes are: fashion entrepreneur and CEO of PurseN Hardeep Melamed; Nepalese American journalist-anchor Kiran Chetry; young Indian American Muslim politician Raaheela Ahmed; women’s rights activist Dr. Nazeera Dawood, who is also the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Fulton County Office of the Chairman, board of commissioners; associate professor of anesthesiology at Stanford University and a huge proponent of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) for women and girls Dr. Vanila Singh; board member of Saris to Suits and accountant Reshmee M. Bharratt; and aspiring journalist Puneet Kaur Sandhu.
The role models, asserts Tripathi, represent compelling stories of immigrants and daughters of immigrants who arrived to the U.S. with nothing other than the promise of opportunities and the American Dream. She believes that the calendar is not only a potent awareness and fundraising vehicle for many non-profit groups serving women and girls, but also for sponsoring corporations committed to diversity and women’s empowerment.
Along with raising awareness and inspiring women, this fundraising initiative is also helping several non-profit organizations committed to women’s empowerment, such as Sakhi for South Asian Women in New York, Apna Ghar in Chicago and Raksha in Atlanta, Georgia. Tripathi is exploring suitable causes in Houston and Dallas in Texas so more organizations will be attached to the cause in the days to come. Calendars may be purchased from benefiting organizations or from saristosuits.org.
Tripathi has been self-funding this project but sponsors are welcome to contact her. Visit saristosuits.org for more information about all the women featured, or to know about organizations which will benefit from the sale of the calendars.
Saris to Suits is a nonprofit organization which has acquired 501(c) (3) charity organization status.
(This story, originally published Oct. 31, was updated Nov. 4.)