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Saturday, October 16, 2021

HerStory: Going with the FLO

Meet Manjot Dhillon, the HERstory Maker of FICCI FLO, Amritsar. FLO is the women’s wing of FICCI that was first established in 1983

Written by Shaheen P Parshad |
Updated: September 16, 2021 9:43:27 am
Manjot Dhillon, the new Chairperson of Amritsar Chapter of FICCI FLO.

COVID-19 has posed myriad challenges for people from various walks of life, but not Manjot Dhillon, the new Chairperson of Amritsar Chapter of FICCI FLO, for whom ‘challenges are a way of life’. She believes trials lend spice to life, promote empathy and egg on people to work for the welfare of others. Therefore, undeterred by the pandemic, she and her feisty band of HERstory Makers of FICCI FLO Amritsar, have come up with avant-garde and inclusive initiatives aimed at the empowerment of women from rural backgrounds as well as those in prison. These HERstory Makers included driven and empowered women, have not only attain greater heights in their personal and professional lives, but are also the force behind the success of many other women. Manjot Dhillon leads the bandwagon of these committed professionals by virtue of her hold over the city’s academic scenario in her capacity as the Director, Mount Litera Zee School, Amritsar. Her institution is deemed among the top 50 co-educational schools of India.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Dhillon shared her goals for 2021-22, which include rural development, creating awareness among women about their legal rights, provision of infrastructure for skill-based education to underprivileged girls and replenishing the city’s depleting green cover by teaming up with renowned environmentalists of Amritsar.

What is your vision as the Chairperson of FICCI FLO?

Manjot Dhillon: ‘Awakening’ is FLO’s theme for 2021-22. The vision of FICCI FLO is to empower and be empowered. As a cohort of progressive women, we have endeavoured to unshackle the minds narrowed by archaic thoughts, break the stereotypes and create an ecosystem where women thrive and help the society flourish. The year 2021 is quite extraordinary, not only because COVID-19 has upturned the world, but also because this year is marked with many milestones, the most propitious of these being the 400th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur, a great humanitarian, who rejected the lexicon of hatred and divisiveness and encouraged humanitarianism. This year also commemorates the 160th birth anniversary of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, and we at FLO pledge to strive towards a world ‘where the mind is without fear.’ The India of Tagore’s dreams was a heaven of freedom to which his countrymen may awake. Our great nation marches into the 75th year since its ‘tryst with destiny’. In line with the awakening that both Nehru and Tagore dreamt of, FLO Amritsar has embraced ‘awakening’ as its theme for the year. We aim to work towards inclusive and sustainable development. The tumultuous last year brought the world to the brink of a cataclysm. This is the most opportune time for an awakening. It’s time to awaken to our inner voice, our reservoir of resilience, the flame of courage that feeds the fire of ambition and moves us in the direction of our goals, it’s time to awaken the ambers of empathy and the light of reason that takes us out of the dreary darkness of bigotry. This idea of awakening is deeply embedded in our ideology for the year as we strive to help women awaken their latent potential and discover their strengths. As we initiate our project to empower women jail inmates, by providing them with skill training we hope to awaken the rays of hope in their lives. With a two pronged approach we will strive to revive our heritage while strengthening the women with skilling.

Please shed some light on FLOs women’s empowerment projects for 2021-22

Manjot Dhillon: FLO is imparting training to women jail inmates in weaving the ‘panja daris’ and ‘khes’. The initiative is called ‘Umeed Ka Tana Bana’. To ensure that our rural counterparts are not left behind FLO is working closely with rural women to empower them through skill development, education and awareness drives. Our initiative ‘FLOkari’ is aimed at reviving the art of ‘Phulkari’ and bringing sustainable livelihood opportunities for women right at their doorsteps. Adoption of an ITI to scaffold the growth of the underprivileged girls is another project close to our hearts. We have collaborated with the tourism department to curate a Tourist guide course for ITI girls with the help of GNDU. In continuation with our efforts to bring development to the rural areas, we will be adopting six villages in the district and work assiduously in the fields of health and sanitation, education, skill development and rural entrepreneurship. The FLO pind or the FLO villages are Bullian, Bedi Channa, Bua Nangli, Kotla Sultan Singh, Attari and Mudhal. Construction of state-of-the-art skill development centre in Gumtala which will impart training to underprivileged women in multiple skills like tailoring and stitching, handloom weaving, salon, pickle making and incense making, is another project close to our hearts.

Who are the HERstory makers?

Manjot Dhillon: HERstory makers are the women, who have the courage to follow the path of their dreams. They do not let society define and deter their potential. Not only are they the authors of their own story, but also a fount of encouragement for other women. The Amritsar Chapter of FICCI FLO is indeed blessed to have a bevy of them on board and is deeply indebted to them for their significant contributions to the initiatives of FLO and service to the society.

How is your stint as FICCI FLO Chairperson different from the tenures of your predecessors?

Manjot Dhillon: I’ll always be in awe of the remarkable achievements of my predecessors. I am privileged to be the chair during a year, which marks the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Teg Bahadur and the 75th year of India’s Independence. My efforts and energy will be directed towards empowering an ever increasing number of women by according them opportunities of sustainable livelihood and exploration of entrepreneurship.

Tell us something about yourself.

Manjot Dhillon: I have a post graduate degree in English, besides a graduate degree in education and a diploma from UCLA in career and college counselling. I am the Founder and Director, Mount Litera Zee School, Amritsar, run under the aegis of KAD Society. I am also a member of the Board of Studies, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar and have been actively involved in curriculum development and syllabus making for English courses for graduate and post-graduate classes.

Whom do you regard as your greatest inspiration and why?

Manjot Dhillon: My inspiration stems from founders of FLO, who had the foresight and vision to create a platform that nurtures the potential of women and has, over the past several decades, seen innumerable empowered women empowering the world.

Does FLO have any plans to replenish the depleting green cover in the city?

Manjot Dhillon: FLO has always acted as a custodian of environment and in consonance with our vision we’ll work actively to promote conservation of environment and increasing green cover. We’ll be working on multiple projects with the eminent environmentalist Rohit and Geetanjali Mehra, who are known as the Green Couple, to make Amritsar greener.

What challenges do you expect to face this year?

Manjot Dhillon: Widening the scope of our efforts while being still besieged by COVID-19, is a major challenge that stares FICCI FLO in the face. Yet FLO intends to find ways and means to keep up its good work of encouraging more and more women into entrepreneurship by launching their own start-ups.

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