By Huda Idrees
I am incredibly humbled to receive the YWCA Toronto Young Woman of Distinction Award. When I first received the call from Bessy Triantafyllos, then Board President, that I had been selected, I thought, there must be a mistake! Doesn’t the “C” in YWCA stand for “Christian?” I have been accused of many things in my life. Being Christian is not one of them!
Since then, of course, I have had the great privilege to learn more about YWCA Toronto, why it started, and how it creates programming to help women from all religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.
You would think as women we would be past justifying what we wear, where we work, and what we choose to do with our bodies. But not so. There are many factors at play in our society, and not all of them are kind to women.
Not all women experience the world the same way. Young women face different challenges compared to older women. Women of colour have different experiences in the workplace compared to white women. And when we show up, we bring all those layers of who we are along with us. Just like I can’t leave my skin color at the door, I can’t leave the way I dress or the way I talk or think at the door either. Acknowledging intersectionality helps us all be kinder to each other.
While young women can stand on the shoulders of the giantesses that came before us – we also have new demons to take down. We are still not believed, not invested in, and not trusted to lead organizations.
I am fortunate to be able to build my dream company with Dot Health and to have incredible investors backing our ambitious journey to connect the world’s health data. Most women do not have this opportunity.
Each of you here can help. You can help by encouraging the women in your life to dream big. You can help by supporting young women in every way possible: emotionally, financially, and by opening your networks.
Seek out women who are on big missions and invest in them. Investing in women will transform the world we live in – for the better.
This text was adapted from Huda Idrees’s speech at YWCA Toronto’s Women of Distinction Award Gala on May 23, 2019. Huda is a Young Woman of Distinction Award recipient and the founder of Dot Health.