International Women’s Day: Celebrating the wonderful work of women in our Foundation
International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while calling for gender equality. The day has been celebrated since the early 1900s, and is now recognised each year on March 8.
The Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation is lucky enough to be supported by incredible colleagues around the world and to mark International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the wonderful work of women in our Foundation! We caught up with Dr Nieveen, based at the SBCF Centre in Amman, Jordan, Rothna Buth, Cambodia Country Director and Sisary Kheng, Country Director of our partners Exceed Worldwide in Cambodia, to discuss some of their thoughts on International Women’s Day.
Dr Nieveen, Rothna & Sisary
Can you give us a summary of your role?
Dr Nieveen: I teach and mentor individuals impacted by war and conflict at the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation Rehabilitation in Amman, Jordan.
Rothna: I represent the SBC Foundation on all issues relating to Cambodia, provide support, coordination and work in a spirit of cooperation with national authorities especially the Cambodian Mine Action and Victim Assistance Authority, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and Ministry of Education. I also develop and build relationships with representatives of Donor governments, foundations, international NGO’s and the Corporate sector.
Sisary: I oversee the comprehensive physical rehabilitation programs and community development programme at three physical rehabilitation centres of Exceed Worldwide in Cambodia and the international training programme of Prosthetiststs/Orthotists and technician programme at the Department of Prosthetics and Orthotics. Our three rehabilitation centres provide approximately 5,000 prosthetic, orthotic, mobility aids and assistive devices to people with disabilities annually prior to Covid impacts. Our Department of Prosthetics and Orthotics has trained young professionals from over 26 less-resourced countries to serve people in their country of origin who are in need of prosthetic and orthotic care.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Dr Nieveen: Every moment I spend at the Sir Bobby Charlton Centre is a proud moment for me; to be able to put a smile on children’s faces through art, play, training or above all, love gives me a sense of great pride every day.
Rothna: Landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) continue to threaten, maim and kill indiscriminately long after hostilities have ended. Most of the victims are civilians, and being able to help and support these innocent people makes me proud every day.
Sisary: My personal aspiration is “Teaching my students to be better than me!”. So my proudest moments have been witnessing my former students leading up and contributing to the growth of the profession in their home countries with a heart to serve, ethical and professionalism. I am proud to call them my colleagues!
What is the most important piece of advice you have been given?
Dr Nieveen: The most important piece of advice I have received in my life is to invest my time, energy and skills in order of my priorities – to invest everything possible in psychology and education and above all, give time, attention, love and care to those that need it.
Rothna: This is difficult question to answer for myself, so I asked two people that I used to give advice to and they responded as follow:
Ms. Raiya Sao- Admin and Logistic Office FHI 360 – “Knowledge is power and learning never end so please don’t afraid to ask if you don’t know.”
Ms Socheanik Soun- Former Logistic Coordinator with Mines Advisory Group: “Be positive and confident, you can do it. Don’t be afraid of the failure.”
Sisary: Always try your best and go an extra mile. Your attitude defines who you are, not your qualification.
Why do you think it’s important to observe International Women’s Day?
Dr Nieveen: Because it is the ultimate day of women’s support and promotion; the day when women can talk about their role and make sure that every woman, regardless of her level of achievement, gets to be appreciated and thanked.
Rothna: It’s a day is to uphold women’s progress, achievements, recognize challenges, and focus greater attention on women’s rights and gender.
Sisary: Women are in action every day. Observation of the International Women’s Day gives us all an opportunity to acknowledge, reflect and enhance our recognition to those individuals who have worked tireless, quietly, eloquently, and in most cases invisibly to bring us to where we are and who we are here today.
What is the most important message you want to send out to young women thinking about their careers?
Dr Nieveen: I say to my students daily that every one of them can choose their goals in life and create joy, success and happiness for themselves.
Rothna: Wherever you are in your career, whatever role you are, please BE READY to stand up for yourself, your community, and show the impact to your society. Do not wait until an opportunity comes to you, explore it and find your opportunity. Most of all, never waver on integrity. If someone calls you bossy because you didn’t let them push you around, so be it but don’t be overproud.
Sisary: We are the persons who we think we are. We could not choose a place to be born or how we should look like. However, all women could choose to be the persons who we want to be. Action on your dream to make it real! Love what you do and give it your very best with integrity, kindness, assertiveness, ethical, and professionalism, you will be an exceptional individual in whatever you do! Look out for a mentor who helps you to grow and if you could not find one, be one to support other younger women to grow stronger too! Be the ambassador of your profession!
If you could have dinner with three inspirational women, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Dr Nieveen: I believe that every woman in the world could teach me something, and each one leaves her mark and her additions to this life. My top three would have to be Cleopatra, the queen who ruled Egypt, who was known for her intelligence and was full of passion and love. Angela Merkel, who reached the most important political position in Germany after her ambition was to be a teacher and lastly Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the Iron woman who supported her country.
Rothna: Queen Soma : she made an amazing history all Cambodian, especially for all Cambodian lady. I wish I could say a heartfelt thank you to her.Shani Dhanda: one of her statements really touched me “The way in which I view disability is that my condition doesn’t disable me; I’m only disabled when I experience barriers or bias”. And lastly, Kamala Harris; as the first woman and the first person of colour to hold the second-highest office in, arguably, the most powerful country.
Sisary: Queen Elizabeth II for I admire her as the longest reigning monarch (of course as the Queen) and how she manages the British Empire in every aspects including the common wealth countries too. Madelein Albright (former Foreign Affairs Minister of the US) for my second dream was to be an ambassador and when I got interest in foreign politics (well American internation affairs) at the time, she was always on TV and dealt with challenging international conflicts talks. Lastly, President Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand for she is a rare individual whose capacity and potentials are greater just a person and I admire her for her leadership, attitude, personality, responsibility and emotional intelligent even in crisis management.
Who is your role model?
Dr Nieveen: Growing up, my father provided a wonderful example of humanity. He was a doctor and offered his help at any time to anyone in need. My mother was a school director who did not stop encouraging me – I saw her as an example of giving and positive feelings. My academic role model is Dr Youssef Qatami; a leader in science, learning and development. He believes in me, supports me and encourages me in every walk of life.
Rothna: Our queen Soma. She was also the first female leader of Cambodia. During her leadership, national unity was strong and the strength of her dynasty was known around Asia. Soma was not only a good leader but also a brave military chief, who led her soldiers into battle against enemies who wanted to invade her people’s land and apart from her fearlessness on the battlefield, Soma had many other virtues. She took great care of her people’s culture.
Sisary: I have been blessed with great mentors throughout my career, many of them are women, some of whom may have not realized that they are one. My mother is my greatest role model for she had survived through the wars and conflicts, got separated from her family and raised eight successful children post-war affected period. She taught me the power of a woman and what a woman can do, just like a never give up little warrior in the battle field! Another special woman in my life was my late personal mentor, Ms. Joy Irvine, she walked me through the concept of equality, equity, diversity, inclusion, empathy, compassion, and personal qualities. Joy always said “knowledge gives you options, wisdom helps you to make choices that will not hurt others. If there was no precedent, make one for others. Don’t limit your limit for you have no idea what your limits are!”
Thank you Dr Nieveen and Sisary. Happy International Women’s Day to all!