Women Social entrepreneurship is vital for our future. Collectively we can make a change by closing the gap between men and women in the workforce.
entrepreneurs are those adventurous, daredevils who drive deep into the pressing problems of society and try to find solutions to them, not by leaving the responsibilities in the reins of the government or business, but by trying to change systems as a whole and persuading societies to take new initiatives
In our Inner Wheel Social Entrepreneur series in this episode We are introducing you a very dynamic and popular face of International Inner Wheel Dist. 323 who always believes in Women Empowerment and social entrepreneurship . Yes we are talking about Kamala Selvam District Chairman of Inner Wheel District 323 , she shared her Inner Wheel journey and Lockdown experience with Hello Womeniya.com Correspondent Priyanka Yadav
Hello Womeniya : Please share your first reaction and feeling on being District Chairman of your District
Kamala Selvam : My first reaction was a sense of responsibility. I knew that it was a major task and I felt that I should utilize the opportunity to the best of my ability to bring about a positive impact and far fetching change in whatever way I can.
Hello Womeniya : What will be your priority in the growth of your District
Kamala Selvam : My priority will be to focus on a holistic and meaningful development of the District, whether it be in the projects undertaken, way the Clubs are functioning, systems and protocols maintained, membership growth, fun activities pursued, or projection of our District and Inner Wheel to the outside world. Everything will be in line with the theme of the year and focus on women empowerment will be the top priority.
Hello Womeniya : What are the current challenges that your District is facing due to this post pandemic
Kamala Selvam : There are no major challenges that we have faced due to this pandemic other than the situation of uncertainty that had been troubling us when we were conducting major events like the District Assembly, South Zone Meet and the District Conference. But I must say that God has been kind to us and we have successfully conducted all the events with great aplomb as scheduled. There are a couple of occasions when we looked forward to events like the joint ISO program or the Triennial which had to be postponed, but I am sure those will happen too in a bigger and better way. Physical meetings have reduced but given way to more number of virtual meetings.
Hello Womeniya : What is your future agenda to solve these problems
Kamala Selvam : Basically I am a very positive person and I don’t consider situations as problems. I try and make the best use of what has been made available to me. In fact we have never used technology to this great an advantage as we have done this year. Starting with DOTI, COTI, and several other programs we have conducted everything successfully and more meaningfully. We have an array of online programs and workshops for all sections of society starting with story telling and activity sessions for children from shelter homes, 3 day workshops for college students through which we have covered 22 colleges so far and around 5500 students, webinars for women empowerment on a monthly basis to hone their entrepreneurial skills, online Inner Wheel bazaars for women in Inner Wheel to showcase their products and services, workshops on composting, terrace gardening and kitchen gardens and health and hygiene awareness programs. Regular projects done physically also went on smoothly with Clubs doing a fantastic job in every avenue of service. So in all the situation was more a boon than a bane.
Hello Womeniya : Share your Inner Wheel journey with us
Kamala Selvam : I can say that I am an Inner Wheel member since I was born. My grand mother who is not with us any more was an Inner Wheel member till she left us and my mother is an Inner Wheel member for more than 46 years. I was therefore born into an Inner wheel family and have visited Inner Wheel meetings along with both of them on several occasions. I was officially inducted as a member of Inner Wheel Club of Madras Midtown in the month of November, 2005. My journey as a member has been a very pleasant one and most of the friends I have made in this organization are more like family to me now. I have groomed my leadership skills, learnt to adjust with people, honed my talents and improved my overall personality thanks to Inner Wheel. Being a people’s person, this has been a perfect platform to network and make friends for life. I owe a lot to this organization.
Hello Womeniya : Could you please share your lockdown experience and your District performed during this difficult time
Kamala Selvam : The lockdown no doubt has impacted society with the economy being hardly hit. Many people have lost their source of livelihood and deaths in families have made children suffer. Inner Wheel District 323 took up several initiatives to support women and children impacted by the pandemic. 40 mobile carts were donated to widows and transgenders to help them set up small businesses to earn their livelihood. This project was done in the presence of the Hon’ble Governor of Telengana and Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry Smt. Tamilisai Soundararajan. Many young girls who lost a parent due to the pandemic were supported for their marriages by provision of utensils, household articles and with monetary help. Projects have been done in all avenues to the tune of Rs.1 crore and 77 lakhs till the month of December. This is a record of sorts considering that the Presidents and Clubs have performed so well despite the pandemic. Members are now well versed with online meetings and operating the computer and have adapted to the latest technology easily. I would like to thank everyone involved for making this a meaningful year despite facing several hardships.
Hello Womeniya : What is your appeal and message to women in Inner Wheel
Kamala Selvam : My appeal to the women in Inner Wheel is to focus more on making a meaningful impact on society rather than doing things just for the sake of doing them. This year we have created projects which will definitely bring about a change in the way people think. Our program for college students teaches students on evil effects of media, media de addiction, health and hygiene and helps them focus more on goal setting, being focused and making the right choices. Our online story telling and activity sessions for children teaches good values and inculcates good habits, our composting, waste segregation and terrace gardening workshops emphasizes on growing your own vegetables and going green. All our projects and programs have been well thought out and will help society in the long run. I believe that we should leave our footprints permanently in the sands of time and make our mark on this society which is difficult to forget.
Hello Womeniya : Do you agree that this pandemic has brought about a lot of changes in your personal and professional life?
Kamala Selvam : This pandemic has definitely impacted everyone personally and professionally. We have all learnt to become survivors and proved that we can face and handle any situation boldly and bravely. People have started believing in simple living and high thinking. Unnecessary expenses have been cut down. Everyone has started spending more time with their families and they value relationships more. Work life balance has become better thereby leading to lower stress levels professionally. A lot of avenues have opened up and new opportunities are being explored. I personally have benefited a lot from this pandemic. The children however missed out on meeting their friends at schools and colleges which has been a major stress factor in many families. This is one aspect which we can do nothing about but wait for normalcy to return.
Hello Womeniya : Can you highlight certain service projects you did during this pandemic?
Kamala Selvam : One of the major projects that District 323 has done this year is support to the transgender community. Almost one project a day such as providing vocational training, educational support, mobile cart donation, obtaining micro loans, job fairs and other help is being done for them. All projects this year are in tune with the IIW theme for the year “Pink First” which stresses on women empowerment and gender equality. SHEROES is being followed diligently by all the Clubs and District 323 has come up with an array of projects titled “The language of flowers”. Floral names have been given to all the projects and is in line with the IIW theme and the Association goals. Project Vilvam focuses on Earth care, composting and terrace gardening, Project Manoranjitham is a 3 day workshop for college students focusing on soft skills training, government schemes and loans available, vocational courses, health and nutrition, cancer awareness, cyber crime and security, media de-addiction, sexual harassment at work places and legal remedies available, Project Orchid is an online women empowerment series for women in Inner Wheel to develop their entrepreneurial skills, Project Tulips is an online Inner Wheel Bazaar which helps our members to showcase their products and services, Project Thazhampoo focuses on elder care, Project Thulir focuses on educational support to deserving students, Project Alli focuses on Transgenders, Project Rose focuses on health and hygiene and cancer awareness. Animal care is another area of passion which several of our members have taken up. Stree Sakthi women empowerment programs like skill development programs, setting up of businesses, micro financing, job fairs, donation of mobile carts and support to acid attack victims have been prime areas of interest this year for all the Clubs.
Hello Womeniya : Being a social entrepreneur what is your goal and vision for the upliftment of the society?
Kamala Selvam : My passion has always been women empowerment and gender equality and I am glad that the IIW President’s goals are the same. I always believe that the day women are treated on par with men that is the day we will be living in a just and equitable society. The kind of oppression and suppression that is meted out to women pains me. We have come a long way due to the work and sacrifices of several dynamic women in the past who have brought us to what we are today, but, we still have several hurdles to cross. Let us all work towards uplifting our sisters and make sure that they live respectable and dignified lives. Let us train our men to respect women and our women to reach for the skies and not have their wings clipped before they start to fly. Let us turn the word ‘Impossible into ‘I am’ possible!
Brief Introduction of IWC :
International Inner Wheel Club is an international women’s Social organisation to create friendship, service and understanding. It has clubs in over 100 countries with over 100,000 members.IWC has very strong presence in India. It has more than 3000 thousands clubs in Urban and rural India. Since the Covid 19 Pandemic breaks out Inner wheel club launched charity campaign worldwide. In our Inner wheel Social entrepreneur series in this Episode we are introducing very popular face of IWC, she doesn’t need any kind of Introduction.
Brief Introduction of District Chairman 323 (for 2021-2022) :
Born in Chennai, brought up in Thanjavur, Kamala did her schooling at Nazareth Convent High School Ooty. She excelled in academics and was an all-rounder who pursued several extracurricular activities, her favourites being playing the piano and singing. She was part of her school choir which she feels laid the foundation for her interest in pursuing music with a passion even now. Her schooling gave her a lot of scope for nurturing her talents and helped groom her leadership skills with her taking up leadership roles such as the NSS captain and the House Captain.
She went on to do her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the Stella Maris College, Chennai, holding the Academic Proficiency record in her class and later did her Master’s in Business Administration from The Loyola Institute of Business Administration getting the Gold Medal in Finance and the Overall First Prize and Gold Medal.
She joined the Inner Wheel Club of Madras Midtown in the year 2006 and has held all the posts at the Club level – ISO, Treasurer, Secretary and Vice – President before becoming the President of her Club in the year 2014 and the District Conference Chairman in the same year. She then moved on to the Inner Wheel District Executive committee in the year 2016 and has held the posts of District Editor, District ISO, District Treasurer, District Secretary, and District Vice-Chairman and is now all set to take on the role of District Chairman of Inner Wheel District 323 for the year 2021-22.
As the District Editor she upgraded and created a very interactive website and brought in a lot of new elements on the website including links to the Facebook page, “Upkaar” a directory of NGO’s, web competitions and flash news of Inner Wheel events happening every day, link to the Inner Wheel District Directory and a gallery to showcase Club projects which was updated on a regular basis. She brought out bulletins by the name “Upkaar” and a souvenir named “Uttara” which was well appreciated and termed as classy by all who read it.
As the District Secretary apart from her regular duties she conducted a free health check – up program at VHS named “Sushrutha” for all the Inner Wheel members, and all the tests and scans were done free of cost. As the District Treasurer she was the co-convenor for the “Mazhalai Oli” program which was held in Infosys hall for 1000 under privileged children. As the District ISO she put together the enjoyable programs “Iyarkaiyin arputhangal” for the City Clubs and “Diyaa” hosted by the City Plus Clubs, a “Career Renewal Guidance program” to help women in Inner Wheel who have discontinued their careers to resume them, and a visit to Kalakshetra which was appreciated by all. As the District Vice Chairman she organized very interesting virtual Presidents meets and was in charge of coordinating publicity related information.
Kamala’s passion lies in women empowerment and gender equality and she is glad that the International Inner Wheel Presidents goals are the same. She hopes to give her best and empower as many women as possible through skill development workshops, vocational training, counselling sessions, financial literacy programs, and personality development courses, with the help of efficient resource people and support of the Inner Wheel members and Club Presidents. This year through her “Language of Flowers” project initiatives several projects have been taken up to empower the community. Manoranjitham – 3 day workshop for college students, Vadamalli – story telling and activity sessions for children in shelter homes, Alli – support to transgenders, Thazhampoo – Support to elders in old age homes, Orchids – women empowerment series for women in Inner Wheel, Tulips – Online Inner wheel bazaar, Vilvam – earth care, terrace gardening and composting, Thulir – value education classes, Bird of paradise – vocational training programs, Magizhampoo, and Lavender are some of the initiatives apart from the several other projects that the Clubs are doing on an ongoing basis.
Kamala has also done a course in Vedic astrology and has been doing research in the field of astrology for the past 15 years. She has done consultations for several people and given speeches on the topic in several forums.
She is actively involved in a couple of social service organizations including Rotary and is a Rotarian of the Rotary Club of Madras Heritage. She has held several positions in her capacity as an Ann of Rotary and has helped in organizing many events which she feels has helped groom her organizational skills. She is a part of the Fellowship of Music Loving Rotarians Group and has given many stage performances along with its members and raised funds for charity through the same.
Her family is in the automobile spares manufacturing and distribution business and Real Estate and Construction Business. They are also involved in a lot of charitable activities and run an Old Age Welfare Trust which serves clean and healthy food to the elders in and around their village Nachandupatti situated in the Chettinad area. They are the Trustees of the Pillayarpatti Temple and have contributed immensely to the upkeep and management of the temple for the past several years. Her husband Selvam is a Rotarian and has held numerous posts in Rotary including the District Conference Chairman position in the year 2017-18.
Kamala runs a yoga and event studio by the name “Pink Lotus” in T.Nagar which is a multi purpose event space used for conducting small events, meetings, photoshoots and parties.Her son Ashwin is a Mechanical engineer and her daughter Anoo has just completed her B.Com at the Stella Maris College.Her hobbies include singing, reading, writing and travelling. She is a yoga enthusiast and pursues it with a passion.