Say 'NO' to stereotypes

 02 Mar 2017 - 12:36

Say 'NO' to stereotypes
QPWN recent networking meet. Pic: Kammutty VP / The Peninsula

By Amna Pervaiz Rao | The Peninsula 

We live in an era of presumption where everything and everyone is presumed. We are governed by various stereotypes; which are fixed and over generalised belief about a particular group or class of people. These stereotypes impose certain beliefs on us like women are like this, girls should behave like this and all. 

It’s very difficult for us to look at anyone with a  different outlook. Not only this, we are constantly trying to fit  ourselves in it!  What is the need to  stereotype things? It’s high time we start looking at the world with a new and prejudice free glasses.

In what was termed by many as a novel initiative against all such  ill-practices, Qatar Professional Women Network (QPWN) hosted an event, under the title of ‘Reinventing your career in Doha’, to break the ‘trailing spouse stereotype.’

A number of successful women shared their experience to motivate and encourage women who are still at the grip of such wrong beliefs. 

A discussion, on professional development and career change opportunities being provided by QPWN, was held at Four Seasons Hotel Doha. The speakers at the event discussed how they reinvented their careers by fighting against all odds. The QPWN mission was to promote and facilitate the professional development and advancement of women in Qatar, in line with the Qatar National Vision 2030.

“QPWN promotes and supports professional development and advancement of women regardless of their nationality, religious beliefs or social status, and whatever stage in their career they might be in”, said Rita Di Antonio, QPWN Leader.

Meet Kirsty Rice, an Australian  writer and a blogger,  who is the author of ‘4 kids’ ,  ‘20 suitcases’ and a beagle‘ who shared her experiences at the event. 

“I used to worry too much about what people thought about me. I thought I was a fraud for trying to write. I thought (and mostly still do) that I was a terrible writer, and that when people told me I was any good they were generally just trying to be nice. I often chose to listen to the wrong voices.” 

“This is when she stopped listening to them and I stopped worrying about what other people thought about me. This was the biggest lesson of my life.”

She says, in order to achieve what you want, “Fake it until you make it”. It’s not going to happen straight away so build a support network to give you encouragement along the way. Get rid of the haters. Join a group, like a women’s network or an industry group or a meet-up page on Google – but start to surround yourself with people who are doing the sort of work you want to do.” 

‘4 kids’ and  ‘20 suitcases and a beagle’ have appeared in both the London Telegraph and The New York Times.  Kirsty is a regular contributor on the enormously successful website

This is not an isolated voice, there are millions around the world who achieve success fighting all odds. Elsbeth Blekkenhorst, Founder of Career By Her in Doha, grew up in the Netherlands where she obtained International Business degree. After graduating from Amsterdam Business School, she moved to London to study Master’s degree in International Marketing. After graduating she was a flight attendant for a year and then decided to hang up her wings and joined the corporate world in the City in London, and in Qatar.

“My mission is to help as many women as I can to realise their dreams, both on a personal and professional level,” said Elsbeth Blekkenhorst.

After having worked in corporate consultancy roles for over 10 years she embarked on entrepreneurial journey 5 years ago when she set up Global Women Qatar, a recruitment agency in Doha with the exclusive focus on the recruitment of women. 

“In 2016 I let go of my recruitment career and poured my experience and expertise in an online business adventure – ‘CAREER by HER’. I am now helping women to also be daring, courageous and adventurous and to build their careers on their own terms,” she further added.

Francis van Wyk, Co-Founder of ‘My Portable Career’ grew up in South Africa where she obtained a Masters degree in Chemistry and a Masters Degree in Business Administration then she worked in various management roles in petrochemical laboratories throughout the country.

“The most powerful thing that happened with me was, I discovered the power of Internet and realised I can start my own business online And do it from anywhere, anytime. The best part was that I never have to go through the trauma of starting over again, When we relocate to another country, I can simply put my business in a bag and take it with me.”

In 2007 she resigned from her scientific career to follow my husband on an overseas working assignment to Saudi Arabia, and since then she has been an expat since then.”

“I started my first online business in 2008, and it quickly grew into two successful virtual training and mentoring businesses. Throughout this journey I helped 100’s of women globally with the finer aspects of marketing, attracting clients and creating online & lifestyle businesses as well,” she further added.