Even with significant progress in women empowerment in Bangladesh, it still remains a social taboo for women to travel to far-off destinations on their own. Religious, family and social restrictions have limited travel and adventure for young, enthusiastic travelers for decades. However, in September 2017, one millennial decided to take action through the creation of an online community for female travelers. We caught up with Sabira Mehrin, the founder of this online travel platform called Wander Woman.
“There was a need for a platform which could bring all female travel enthusiasts together to exchange information and travel together. That is why I started Wander Woman,” explained Sabira Mehrun. “I believed, we women had to cross extra barriers to pursue global opportunities and lacked the courage and confidence required to explore a new destination alone. This is why we needed to hear stories and experiences of avid Bangladeshi women from all around the world to get motivated and step out for change. I started with a closed Facebook group to create a safe space for the like-minded travelenthusiasts”.
What started off with 200 facebook friends is now an 8,500+ strong community of women travellers who are constantly empowering and supporting one another and lifting up their love for adventure. Over these three years, Sabira has achieved several key milestones, starting with registering Wander Woman as a Travel Company. She was able to introduce the first ever credit less EMI system on her travel platform, a sim card exchange plan, launched petty currency exchange plan and other incredible ways to make traveling easier for her members.
She even established the WW Academy to teach women skills required for safe adventure traveling, such as swimming, self-defense, etc. In the last three years, Sabira has been able to arrange 20+ trips for women to travel to various parts of Bangladesh and beyond. The WW instagram page is used to promote female travelers of Bangladesh to the world.
“Wander Woman members have been supportive to help with any query placed by other travelers. This has created a trusted peer network where women are coming forward with their first hand experiences in order to help fellow travelers. As a founder of the community, I have been strict about maintaining a positive and non-judgmental environment to ensure that everyone feels safe to share their stories without any fear. I focused on collaboration over competition to show that nothing is more beautiful than women uplifting other women.”
The Diana Award recognizes the young change-makers who are youth-led, inspiring and able to create social impac. Wander woman’s vision to provide access to travel information to women from developing countries has inspired thousands of women to explore global opportunities and new destinations. The Diana Award is the only charity set up to honour Princess Diana of Wales.
“This award is truly special as my late mother was a big follower of Princess Diana and her humanitarian acts. Recognition as her legacy is indeed a worthwhile milestone as an individual as well as organization. We will be receiving mentorship and development programmes recommended by Diana Award organization to further our cause.”
Since 2011, Raaga Models & Talent Agency based in Toronto have been organizing the prestigious pageant of Miss (&Mrs.) South Asia Canada! The goal of the event is to help build self esteem and confidence among young women of the South Asian community, nurturing competitive but friendly peer learning opportunities, teaching good sportsmanship, public speaking skills, poise and elegance. Most importantly, they are to encourage participation and involvement in the community and taking part in fund raising events, donations and volunteering.
In December of 2019, a young woman named Sunita Pun stunned everyone on stage with her mature and well thought out answers and won the title of Miss South Asia Canada! Before the final title, Sunita also bagged the titles of Miss Bollywood Diva and Miss Congeniality.
“I first participated in a pageant in 2015 for a charity to help victims of an earthquake in Nepal. It was then that I realized how a pageant can be an opportunity for me to come out of my comfort zone and explore my inner potential. I participated in Miss South Asia Canada 2018 and I made it to the top five and also won two subtitles. Not winning the crown was unsettling but a learning curve for me. So I came back in 2019 and competed in Miss South Asia Canada 2019 to prove it to myself that hard work pays off and that we can do amazing things when we don’t give up,” said Sunita in an exclusive interview with Millennial Things Blog.
Since missing the title in 2018, Sunita knew that she had to believe that she really deserved the title from her heart and so she practiced positive self-talk, self-acceptance, and self-love, including Meditation and yoga.
Q. Can you tell us about the different rounds in the pageant and what skills they tested?
“The first round was a traditional round which was my favourite, because I got to see all the beautiful and colourful outfits representing South Asia. The second round was called the saree round and I was a bit nervous about standing on stage for so long in a neat but delicately wrapped outfit. We said our introductory speeches, and after delivering mine, I became more confident about my presence on stage. “
“I eventually made it to the semi-finals where we picked a question and answered it. The question was a bit tricky but I told myself that I will have to remain calm and answer the best I can.”
“The last round was the final question answer round. This is the most important one and I was always nervous thinking about this round prior to the completion, but during the competition I was the most calm and confident in this round. I told myself that I would give my best and that it was my time to shine.”
Q. What is the one moment of the competition that you are the most proud of?
“The answer I gave was something I truly believed in my heart so instead of being nervous I had fun answering my question. I got so emerged in the moment that I did not care about the result at that time. I knew I got to say what I believed in and I felt truly satisfied from within.”
Q. Can you tell us how you felt right before the final results were announced!
I was a bit nervous in the beginning of the show thinking about things that could go wrong. I reminded myself of how gracefully I handled failures in the past and how much I have learnt because of it. I reminded myself that I have worked hard and I am ready for this. As the rounds went on I started feeling more excited and hopeful that I will win. After I won, I felt accomplished and very grateful.
What was your take away from this competition and the title you receive? Do you plan to continue to partake in such competitions in the future?
“My take away from this competition is that hard work pays off. There is nothing you cannot achieve if you put your mind to it and try relentlessly until you achieve it. I do not have plan to take part in another pageant in the future, but you know life always surprises us.”
Sunita holds a bachelor’s degree in public health and I works in community mental health. “I want to continue working in mental health. Mental health is challenging at the same time very rewarding because it gives me opportunity to make someone’s life better at the same time expand my own knowledge. In my community, I often participate in local charity events where I showcase my dance skills and I would like to continue doing so. I am passionate about public speaking and in the future I hope to become a motivational speaker and advocate for mental health issues in the community.”
Q. As a millennial, how do you think this competition helped to inspire you or encourage certain values in you?
“When I lost my previous pageant, I thought about reasons why I lost it. Insecurity crept in and I started thinking that maybe I lost because I am not beautiful enough or not smart enough. But deep in my heart I knew I had to stay true to my values. I came back to compete to prove to myself that hard work, integrity, and self-acceptance is what makes someone a pageant winner. Winning the title has made me believe in myself more than ever and I am ready to take on new challenges.”
Q. What is your message to other South Asian women out there?
My message to other young south Asian women out there is that our self-worth is not dependent on what anyone says or thinks of us. Our self-worth is made of our resilience, compassion, and all the challenges we overcome. Chase after your dreams and have a courage to live a life true to yourself.
As you grow up, the question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up” turns into “What are you going to do for the rest of your life.” If you’ve always known what you wanted to do, then great, if you didn’t then that’s okay, too. I didn’t think about becoming a lawyer until almost the end of my undergraduate studies. If you ever thought about or are thinking about pursuing a legal career, then I have a few tips to you.
1. Volunteer or get work experience as soon as you can
One of the things I am most grateful for is having gotten to work one summer as an intern and assistant at a small law office before finishing my bachelor’s degree and deciding to study law. You should try to get a feel of what it is like to be in a legal work environment before committing to a legal career path. There are some who have watched television, maybe dreamed of becoming a paralegal or lawyer, and then realized that the job and the environment isn’t what they thought it would be like. I wasn’t someone who initially thought I would become a lawyer when I was younger. I was someone who was still figuring it out. It was during my undergraduate studies of psychology, when I thought about the connection to law and had the opportunity to work with a lawyer, when I decided to go to law school. This work experience is especially important if you are thinking about going to law school or becoming a lawyer, and are concerned about your financial situation, as not only is tuition of law school expensive but there are many other fees in addition that you will have to pay for (more on this below), and so you should know what you will be working towards after your degree beforehand.
2. Have a financial plan or significant savings. Do not carry debt going into law school if possible
The legal profession is an expensive career path, and do not assume that you are going to be able to make up for it all right away once you become a licensed legal professional. Yes, law school is expensive, but so are licensing fees. What’s that? Yes, there are more fees after you graduate. Whether you are becoming a lawyer or a paralegal in Ontario, after you graduate and want to become a lawyer or paralegal, you will have to pay for fees upfront to join the legal professional body, licensing exam fees and more. Law school doesn’t really give you that much time off to have a job, and the expenses you will be paying for will be a lot more than how much you can earn part-time at any minimum wage position. Unfortunately, for us millennials, you probably know that there is already a shortage for university graduates obtaining meaningful career positions after they graduate that pay well, and the legal field is no different. To become a lawyer, after you have your law degree, each province has their own licensing process, you will have to apply to the law society of the province you want. In Ontario, you will have to pay for another application fee to get put into the licensing process, then you will be required to write two bar exams, and complete an experiential training component, either “articling” which is a supervised internship for 10 months or the Law Practice Program. You may have heard some positive stories of students who were well paid working at a large law firm after graduating, but that’s not always the case, and many smaller firms often can’t pay you a significant amount. In fact, you will be lucky to work for the minimum wage at some smaller firms. The Ontario bar exams with the required materials will cost you over $2000, and for your experiential training component, you will have to pay over $3000 (I don’t remember the exact numbers). That’s right, you must PAY to have your work or internship recognized. If you fail a bar exam, you will have to pay to do it again. These exams are also 7 and a half hours each filled with a lot of material, and many people must take some time off work to study. After this, you will have to pay for the bar ceremony, possibly buy/rent barrister robes, and then when you do get licensed, guess what… MORE FEES! Within the first few weeks after getting called to the Bar, congratulations, you will be handed an invoice from the law society asking you to pay for the remainder of the year as a licensed professional, even if you aren’t working. If you are not practising law, you can apply to change your status with the law society to pay less fees, but you are still required to pay something more than a few hundred dollars just to maintain your license, otherwise your license may be administratively suspended for not paying. If you are practising, you will have to pay much more, and in addition, it is mandatory for licensees to have practising insurance coverage. In Ontario, we use LawPro Insurance. A new call has a 50% discount, but surprisingly that’s still over $300/month currently for a new lawyer in their first year. Thus why, I would suggest you plan out a financial plan or figure out how you will survive financially for several years (not a few, not for just when you’re in law school, but after too), and you do not want to be in debt before starting this career path.
3. Maintain and build your support system
If you have great friends, and people you have met through work experience before law school, you will want to maintain their friendships to help get you through any mental struggles you may face throughout your career journey. In law school, don’t be afraid to make friends, not everyone will be amazing, some become too competitive, and you may want to stay away from those, but if you find some great friends in your class or in another class above or below you, then you will have an advantage over those who are just competitive and want to do everything alone. It’s great if you can find people who can share with you notes or would be willing to build notes together with you or provide other tips. The people I attempted to befriend in the beginning did not become my friends I later had. Friends I later had in law school, were people that I eventually became close with and still stay in touch with. When I first started at law school, I lived in a studio apartment, and this girl who lived two doors down from me who was a semester senior to me ended up becoming one of my best law school pals, and that was not something I expected. Although we were in different semesters, we attempted to compete in various legal competitions such as moots, client interview competitions, and negotiations. I later took a few courses with her as I took a few courses out of order, and she later introduced me to my roommate I moved in with 2 semesters later. I was able to form a study group sometimes then. I also got to know someone else who was senior to me, who I would regularly meet in the library who taught me Microsoft Word tricks for formatting my exam notes that I will forever be thankful for.
4. Don’t try to be a “Shark” or super competitive going into law school or college
There is this falsehood with a lot of new law school students who believe that they need to be as competitive as possible, and perhaps even sabotage other students or should not help anyone else. I don’t really blame anyone for having this initial view as many do and it can somewhat feel encouraged by schools that curve class grades. However, in the real practising world, legal professionals often need to work with each other, and rely on asking each other for help, guidance and advice to do better, and so you should start building your relationships early on. You never know when you may need someone. Try to help others when you can.
5. If you’re thinking about going to law school abroad, do your research and plan.
I went to Bond University in Australia, but before applying, I attended an information event for their law programs in Toronto, and some of their webinars where I could ask them questions. You should find out whether the school you are thinking about is planning any information sessions nearby or if there are any international university fairs. At international university fairs, you can get some information, and find out about various law school programs but you should then do further research into any schools you are then seriously considering, and then see if they will host a specific information session for the law program.
There are often also consultant agencies that will help you with informing you of information sessions and sending your applications. I signed up with KOM Consultants, which is based in Hamilton and asked them about universities they communicate with. Another popular agency for helping students interested in studying in Australia is OzTREKK. Both agencies can provide you with an abundance of information if you are interested in studying abroad. You should research into whether the University is recognized by the National Committee of Accreditation (NCA) (the Canadian association that assesses legal education and professional experience outside of Canada) or whether they have had students come back to Canada and what their experiences have been like in the past.
After you have completed your legal education abroad, if you plan to come back to Canada to practice, you will have to be assessed by the NCA. This process can take a lengthy period, so you should also be prepared for an additional time period spent completing the NCA process. The NCA requires a final transcript from your school to be sent directly to them. Towards the end of your studies, you should enquire into any forms you may have to fill to have your transcript sent. You will have to apply to have your education assessed by the NCA, which you can do so on their website: https://nca.legal/process/application/ . Once your transcript has been sent to the NCA and they have assessed your application, then they will tell you if they require you to write any additional exams, or to take any courses at a Canadian law school. When I applied, I think they had up to 12 weeks to assess, and you can’t start signing up to any of the NCA exams until they have properly sent you back your assessment. Once you have completed the NCA requirements, they will send you a notice and ask which law society (province or territory) you are planning to join. They will then send your Certificate of Qualification to that law society and send one copy to you. After this, then you will have to apply to the law society you intend to join, e.g. the Law Society of Ontario, and you will start the process with them and pay for all the fees noted above in my second tip. Oh, also you should be prepared to have to pay for NCA fees as well if you plan on going abroad and coming back to Canada.
If you are interested in staying abroad and practicing in another country, then you should ask about possible VISA options for staying after your studies that other graduates have applied for at your information sessions or to your consultant agency (E.g. KOM consultants or OzTREKK).
Bonus Tip 6: Connect with fellow students and graduates
Lastly, if you plan on embarking on a legal career or know someone who is, you should join the social media community or follow and subscribe to Ginny Law Blogs at www.ginnylawblogs.com, a resource for new lawyers and those seeking a legal career.
I hope you enjoyed this article if you’re a millennial who is thinking about going to law school or are seeking a legal career.
About the Author: Virginia Ng aka “Ginny” is a new millennial lawyer, blogger and creator of Ginny Law Blogs, a blog that not only explores various interesting legal topics but is also a blog that discusses the journey of navigating the legal professional world as a young female lawyer, giving insight, motivation and tips to other upcoming or aspiring legal professionals.
As a single working mother living in one of the busiest cities ever, Nazida Syeda has to manage her time extremely well. Motherhood is already an amazing and overwhelming experience, especially when Moms are on their own, juggling work, home, and a social life on top of it. Add to that some ambition and the will to engage in the community, and you are looking at an 80-hour week equivalent to multiple jobs. So, how do you achieve balance and harmony so you can be a proud mommy in good mental and physical health and excel at life? Find out from a woman who has mastered the art of time management in all these roles!
1. Stick to a routine
As a mom and a professional, I have to manage my time in the most productive way I can. The most important thing to make everything work is time management. I wake up early in the morning usually at 7.30 am, take a quick shower, and then I wake up my daughter to get her ready for school. Following that, I get lunch packed and ready for the both of us that (usually prepared the night before). I drop her off to her school and I head out to work myself. After school, she is dropped off to her father’s home where she spends time with her grandmother until I am done work. We both come home in the evening, talk about the day, spend some quality time together and eat dinner while chatting. Once she is asleep, I catch up on chores, social media, and my nighttime routine. I also try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Having such a simple schedule but religiously following it on every weekday allows me to stay on top of my to-do list, both at home, work, and with my daughter. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get enough sleep and to wake up early to keep making the wheels of your life turn as efficiently as it needs to be!
2.Stay Focused at Work & Fun
I keep the weekends free for my daughter and my friends. Since my family lives in Seattle, WA I don’t get to see them often. Living in New York as a single mother is pretty tough, but I am lucky to have a very strong supportive family, work environment, and friends who are always here to encourage me to do good and make boss moves! I believe if you have a non-toxic surrounding meaning friends/family that is the only time one can succeed in life. I am grateful that I have all of that now. By using my weekends to socialize, participate in hobbies, social and community commitments and personal projects, I am able to dedicate my weekdays to work and chores. This also refreshes me so I am able to stay focused at work when I am at work and to shut it all off once I exit the doors of my office. At the same time, my weekends allow me to other things for personal growth such as signing up for an interesting course which I will enjoy or which might help further my career.
3. Reject Negativity
The most important thing with divorced/separated mothers is the negativity. It begins with negative comments and suggestions from friends and family, and before you know it, you yourself are emanating a negative attitude as well. My most important tip is to stay away from negativity! For instance, don’t fight with the baby’s father if he wants to take out his kids; look it at this another way. By letting him take out your child, your can get some well deserved alone time alone. God knows I need plenty of “me” time! At the same time, if your daughter is with your an extra day or weekend, take it as a blessing and use that opportunity to spend quality time with her too. With all that is going on in my life, I need to prioritize and for me the most important thing is my daughter followed by self care.
4. Allocate time for Self Care & Alone time!
With juggling everything all at once, it is important that we give enough time to heal our mind and body. For that, I do a lot of meditation and praying. It helps me because I feel like I can tell all my problems to someone without being judged and ask HIM (the Lord) to solve all my problems. When I do that, I am left with nothing but peace. I also go to the gym 3 times a week after work and that keeps me physically fit and energized. I also love indulging in online shopping and get some retail therapy in there! It is the easiest way I can skim through everything swiftly and it saves me a ton of time. When the items get delivered to my doorstep, I feel like I am opening a new gift everyday! That feeling makes me really happy. These are some of the things I do to keep my mental and physical health in good shape so I can do be motivated and energized for the next day!
5. Have a goal & work towards it
My goal in life is to becoming an entrepreneur & a multimillionaire and I am currently adjusting my life to achieve that goal. I know the road will be long and full of bumps and hiccups so I am playing it slow, steady and smart. I also believe that it is important to keep my on-going personal projects to myself, because I do not want people’s negativity or pessimistic comments to effect my decisions. Therefore I do whatever I plan on and follow it through very quietly and smartly. By Allah’s blessings, I can say I am the happier now than I have ever been.
6. Love Wholeheartedly
In all these little things I do to stay happy and healthy, the final and most important one is to love wholeheartedly. I love my daughter, my family, my close network of friends and people in my community and that helps me remember how intangible the most valuable things in life really are. I know each of you millennial mommies out there must have your own ways of going about doing things. It doesn’t need to be meditation or prayer or anything specific that I do, but I do hope you are all taking time out of your busy days for some self-care because without caring for ourselves we cannot care for the ones we love.
You can stay in touch with Nazia and her positive lifestyle on facebook!