Women Power

February 22nd, 2018

By Faizal Kottikollon, Co-Founder Faizal and Shabana Foundation

A few months back I watched this film Hidden Figures, based on the real-life story of three brilliant African-American women at NASA — Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson – who serve as the brains behind one of the most significant operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit in 1961. Like any movie some of the scenes are fiction but for most the film is an accurate depiction of their lives.

Almost 60 years ago being African American and a woman in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) would have been extremely challenging, and they had to fight to succeed.

I truly enjoyed the movie because it highlights the two things I firmly believe in personally. Firstly, women can do anything, they are the backbone of our society, I often feel they are more organised and can multi-task better than men. I have had the joy of witnessing this first hand with my wife and three daughters. They are all strong and focused, and can do anything once they make up their mind to achieve it. Secondly, the movie revolves around technology an area that holds the greatest fascination for me, because I see the power it has to change the world. So, I cannot imagine anything better than having women in technology or STEM. I believe that this powerful combination can bring positive change in the world and that is what the movie depicts.

I enjoy interacting with the students from the GVHSS girls school the Foundation supports in Kerala. Our aim when we took on the project was to create a platform for all the girl students to explore different opportunities and careers. Often when we meet students, they will tell us their top two favorite places in the school are the outdoor sports turf and the laboratories. It gives me great happiness that these areas which were not there before, are today really making a difference to the children. It is nice to interact with them and see them focused on building careers in new fields that they did not consider before.

This change in thinking is very essential, because women empowerment is a very important cause to me. I believe we need to get more women in the forefront give them more opportunities. I hope that our work with the Girls School in Nadakkavu is the first step in this direction and has helped create a platform for students to explore
new horizons.

We also hope that our model and the success the students have achieved through it inspires many other schools across India and Worldwide. The number of awards and accolades the girls have won in the last year has been amazing. Shabana and I could not be prouder of all the students in the school. In many ways, they are our inspiration to do more.