Rising Star Award Winner | Rafia Jamil

10th February 2020

This morning, I was at the Welsh Government office in Cathays, Cardiff as a guest speaker for Academy Wales’ Springboard leadership program for women. This is a place I may not have been without the spotlight ‘Womenspire’ shone on my journey and me in 2019.

In March 2019, I received an email from Chwarae Teg “You have been nominated for Womenspire award”. Womenspire, the word stuck to me. I have been nominated for few awards for my contribution related to work and my profession, but I never thought of my journey as ‘inspiring women’. Ambitious? Yes. Full of resilience and assertiveness? Yes. But inspiring? Worth sharing? That’s something I had never thought of.

For me, carrying on and not letting challenges stop me or failures define me is a way of life. Being nominated, and then shortlisted as a finalist made me stop and reflect on my journey, and the impact it has had on me, and on people around me.

Talking to the judging panel was the highlight of the whole Womenspire journey. I shared things with them that I had not shared before, and they were interested in listening to what I had to say. They valued my contribution as a member of society, as a woman, and they made me feel that what I do really matters and that it makes a difference.

Being a finalist was humbling to the core. Being filmed as part of the process, I was inspired more than ever to share my journey and let every woman out there connect to it. I wanted to share with young girls out there that it’s ok if your dreams scare you, it’s because they are big! I wanted to let all women trying to balance family life with their career know that they are doing it right because they are headed towards their goal. I wanted all the women in power and position to remember that there are several women around us working tirelessly, trying to realize their dreams, and if they can shine some light on the path it will make a difference.

There were people both in my personal and professional life that had not known several parts of my story, my Womenspire film made all the difference to them. I went on to do a piece with ITV wales, which went on TV, that was beginning of a chain reaction. I had emails, tweets, messages and cards from friends, family, neighbors, colleagues, and patients telling me how proud they were of me.

It was awe-inspiring to see all those esteemed women in the extravagant St. Fagan’s Museum on the night of the awards.

Being parent of a 7-year-old, it’s not easy to make plans for evening events where children are not welcome. A few days prior to the award ceremony I knew that all my efforts to organize childcare bore no fruit. I sat next to my son one night and told him that I may not be able to go because I didn’t have anyone to look after him. He said, “that’s sad, I would love to see you getting your next award”. I smiled and said, “do you think I will get it?” “of course you will” he said, “and remember, even if you don’t it’s the effort that matters”. Yes, he is 7 years old!

This conversation gave me an idea and I asked Chwarae Teg if I could bring him, to my surprise there was not a second of hesitation “Yes, why not. Bring him along”.

If I had to choose one moment when Chwarae Teg truly demonstrated their passion to support women, it was this moment. It’s not very often I see an organisation living up to their claims to support women and being inclusive. I applaud Chwarae Teg for recognizing that being mother of a young child should not be a hurdle in a woman’s way, be it realizing their dreams or getting an award for it!

I am honored to have won Womenspire 2019 Rising Star and see it as a catalyst in my transition from a delegate in a leadership workshop, to a speaker in leadership event at Academi Wales.

I would encourage you to nominate not one but all the women around you who you think have gone above and beyond. Those who did not give up, who carried on against the odds, who believed in themselves, or believed in others, those who dreamt big, who were told they can’t have it all, those who supported themselves, or supported others to achieve their dreams, your nomination could be the difference to their story!

Inspire and be inspired!

10th Feb 2020