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Global Mentoring Walk, Mumbai- ElsaMarie D'Silva

This March at their Global Leadership Awards, Vital Voices presented me with the Light of Freedom Award for leading the organisation Safecity, which is a crowd map for sexual violence in public spaces. I felt extremely humbled by this recognition of my work to eradicate violence against women and girls.

Through Vital Voices, I have been fortunate to meet many amazing women and men doing their bit to make the world a better place, and I am particularly amazed by how fearlessly women across the planet are constantly pushing the boundaries and breaking barriers daily. Vital Voices also taught me the importance of being grateful, building a community, creating support structures for others and paying it forward. So it was no wonder that when I returned home to India post the awards, I felt compelled to do something to show my gratitude and pay it forward.

I chose to use the Global Mentoring Walk format where we could create support systems to help women achieve their potential. I reached out to Priti Patkar, 2014 Global Leadership Award Honoree and Co-Founder & Director of Prerana, to partner with me to lead the walk. She was immediately on board. Once that was done, I reached out to my extensive network of women leaders in corporate, media and the development sector to be mentors. The response was immediate and encouraging; everybody said YES.

In fact, the response was so outstanding, with over 50 pairs of mentors and mentees, we decided to hold two walks to accommodate all of them. The United States Consulate in Mumbai supported both events. The keynote for the May 10 event was given by Heidi Hattenbach, Public Affairs Officer, and the June 29 event by Jennifer Larson, Acting Consul General.

“As a woman who has had exceptional female mentors in her own life, I was honored to participate in this important networking event. It’s wonderful to see Vital Voices all over the world.” – Jennifer Larson

Both women shared their personal journeys, the challenges they faced and explained how mentoring helped them achieve their career potential.

Everyone was very active and fully engaged with their partner as well as with the rest of the group. The sharing was honest, open and positive and almost everyone wanted to carry the relationships they made forward.

“I think the Mentoring Walk is a great step, literally, in not just introducing a skilled professional to a young person aspiring to have a career in the same domain but bringing two diverse sets of people together. The learning, I realized, was both ways, and the sharing on an equal platform.” – Roli Srivastava, Journalist, Thomson Reuters (Mentor)

“I think the Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk is an absolutely fabulous initiative to Pay it Forward by women who are in a position to help women in their professional journey. I am most enthused about working with my mentee and hope that she is in a space with greater clarity and confidence about her goals and journey at the end of our association.” – Kiran Manral, Ideas Editor, She The People (Mentor)

I am convinced that we need to continue to host these mentoring walks as it widens our network, identifies role models and encourages us to dream big whilst providing us with a platform to support and guide us.

ElsaMarie D’Silva