A Galaxy of Women Leaders Address AAPI’s Women’s Forum during GHS in Mumbai “A Strong Woman Cannot Be Stopped:” Amruta Fadnavis Tells at AAPI’s Women’s Forum

“When a strong woman is born, she cannot be stopped,” Amruta Fadnavis, First Lady of Maharashtra and Vice President of Axis Bank, told a packed audience at the Women’s Forum during the 12th annual edition of Global Healthcare Summit at the Trident Hotel, Narimon Point, Mumbai, India on the final day of GHS, December 30th, 2018.
Organized by the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) the Women’s Forum had a galaxy of successful women, who shared with the AAPI delegates their own stories of growing up and facing challenges with conviction and courage, and have today become role models for other women around the world.
The Women’s Forum had Amruta Fadnavis, First Lady of Maharashtra and Vice President of Axis Bank; Deana Uppal, Entrepreneur & Winner Miss India UK; Dr. Nandita Palshetkar, President FOGSI; Dr. Ratna Jain, Former Mayor Kota, Rajasthan; and, Sangita Reddy, Executive Director, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospital Group as panelists. Dr. Asha Parikh, Chair, AAPI Women’s Forum and Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Vice Chair, AAPI Women’s Forum, led the panelists to a lively discussion on ways to prevent and address violence against women.
In her opening remarks, Dr. Asha Parikh, Chairwoman of the Women’s Forum, described violence against women as a “burning issue” around the world. While praising AAPI for making efforts to focus on this crucial issue affecting women across all continents, she urged everyone to “identify ways to collectively address this issue.” Reminding the audience about the tradition of woman being considered a goddess in the Indian tradition, she urged everyone to respect women in all places.
Amruta Fadnavis, who was the keynote speaker at the Women’s Forum, is a trained classical singer, a social activist and a banker. Married to the 18th Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Shri. Devendra Fadnavis, she is the youngest first lady in the history of Maharashtra. Currently, serving as the Vice President – Transaction Banking with Axis Bank, Ms. Fadnavis has represented India at National Prayer Breakfast – 2017, an International peace initiative presided by US President Donald Trump. She has perfectly blended her life as a working woman and a socialite to nurture her interests and passions. She chose to have her own individuality rather than wrapped herself under the covers of first lady of Maharashtra and which is definitely an inspiration for many women today.
Ms. Fadnavis grew up in a household where education and independence for women was essential.  Being a wife, mother, businesswoman, artiste, each role she plays is so demanding. But, Ms. Fadnavis, who shared about her supporting parents and family, while growing up, said, she was able to plat all of these roles effectively, because she has a very understanding husband, who encouraged her to work towards the realization of her personal and professional goals.
“It’s smart economics to invest in a girl as much as one would in a boy,” Ms. Fadnavis said. “It’s very important to help girl child to be independent.” She stressed the need for women to be more educated than men. “Men feel threatened when women do not adhere to what men wants them to do,” she said. Pointing to many non-governmental programs she has initiated and supported, Ms. Fadnavis drew the attention of how with the trainings provided to police, more women have come forward to report violence than in the past.
Dr. Nandita Palshetkar shared with the audience about her own advocacy role she and FOGSI, her noble organization working with women are doing in Maharshtra. Describing violence against women as “most shameful,” Dr. Palshetkar stated, the prevalence of violence against women is a global phenomenon. She called for the need for education towards gender sensitization. Working with schools, health workers across the country, this can be achieved, she said.  According to her, “The biggest challenge is to keep fighting. Women need to support each other and applaud each other’s victory. If you are not doing it no one is going to do it for yourself,” she told the audience.
Deana Uppal, another panelist, while acknowledging that there is discrimination in the glamour world of Hollywood and Bollywood, said, in choosing lead roles and when it comes to payments, men are always preferred over women. “We have come a long way. Changes are taking place,” she said. “There are questions raised when such practices are seen happening.” She allured to the effect of MeToo# Movement and its impact on the ability for “more people to speak out against any type of discrimination.” Stressing the need for equality, she said, “I strongly believe in promoting equality. You are the role models for all of us here. Keep fighting and support one another.”
Dr. Ratna Jain, who was elected Mayor of Kota in Rajasthan at a very young age, recommended that  “Be sure of what you want to be and be passionate about what you want to achieve. Believe in yourself and go ahead and do it.” While acknowledging of the many social evils that are prevalent across India, Dr. Jain said, “When women are educated, things will be better for everyone. Many of these social evils will be eliminated.” Stressing the need for literacy, she said, “Small efforts by everyone can do wonders.”
Ms. Sangita Reddy, who moderated the panel discussion pointed out how women are being judged differently than men in almost every aspect of life. She stated that there are as many as 70% of the healthcare jobs are held by women, but only a handful of jobs in Board “There is an unconscious structural bias. There is a need for looking within and identify ways to move forward in order to be agents of change from within.
Dr. Udaya Shivangi, Co-Chair of Women’s Forum, stressed the need for enhancing professional growth without compromising one’s family, values and interests in life. She shared with the audience how her mother inspired her to dream and work towards realizing her dreams.
The 12th edition of the annual Global Healthcare Summit at the glamour capital of India, Mumbai concluded here on December 30th with Physicians of Indian Origin rededicating  themselves to work and collaborate towards bringing in high quality, innovative, preventable, cost-effective ways to the delivery of healthcare to millions of people in India.
The three-day historic event, inaugurated by the Honorable President of India on December 28th at the Taj Palace Hotel in Mumbai, was for the first time, jointly organized by American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) and Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO), from December  28th – 30th December 2018 at Hotel Trident, Nariman Point, Mumbai. Earlier, Dr. Naresh Parikh, President AAPI in his opening remarks, highlighted the importance of Women’s Forum, which has come to be a much sought after event at ever Convention and GHS.
Representing the interests of the over 100,000 physicians of Indian origin, leaders of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI), the largest ethnic organization of physicians, for 37 years. For more details, please visit:  https://aapisummit.org/www.aapiusa.org

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