11 years old and already a Woman of Influence

Will Hine
11 years old and already a Woman of Influence

She may have been the smallest person in the room, but 11-year-old Jaskiran Rahi made the largest of impressions when she attended the 2017 Women of Influence Forum in Auckland last week.

Sponsored by Westpac and Fairfax Media, the forum drew more than 500 women to hear from the likes of the Rt Hon Helen Clark and Dame Susan Devoy.

Jaskiran, a pupil at Queen Margaret College in Wellington, was invited to the event by Westpac.

She was identified as a "future Woman of Influence" after making a submission to the 'Dream Bank' project run by Westpac with the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

More than 5,000 Kiwi kids sent in their dreams for themselves and New Zealand; Jaskiran's entry was one of the stand-outs.

Her dream:                                                                            

“I would like to set up a company called 'Spirit & Soul' (I am in progress at the moment). It will aim to empower girls to do anything.

“Eventually I would like to set up events like 'Girls' Day Out' which will be an event for young girls to experience different subjects such as engineering, which are thought to be only for boys.

“Another event I would like to set up is a movie screening of movies like 'Hidden Figures' which empower girls. I am also planning on selling merchandise like shirts and stationary.”

Helen and Carol

Carol Hirschfeld and Helen Clark at the 2017 WOI Forum

Jaskiran attended the Forum, at SKYCITY Theatre, with her mother, Charanjit Rahi.

At one point she was invited to the stage by MC Carol Hirschfeld to speak to the audience, and was received with rapturous applause.

Jaskiran says she wants to forge a career in computer coding, but is conscious it can be hard for young women to get into.

"When I first went to a coding class I was the only girl there and I felt left out and I didn't want other girls to feel the way.

“This social enterprise, Girls' Day Out, would have events for girls only where they can experience subjects like science and engineering."

And she has plenty of ideas up her sleeve if the coding doesn't work out.

"I want to be an author, I want to be a digital artist, I want to be an interior designer, I want to be a technical help person."

Westpac’s Director of External Relations, Sue Foley said it was fantastic Jaskiran wasn't just thinking of her own future, but also those of her classmates.

“She says she came to the Women of Influence Forum with the hope of being inspired. In fact, I think she was the one inspiring the 500 women in the audience.”

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