Jessie Kaur Lehail is a Storyteller & Founder of Kaur Project
What does being a woman mean to you?
Being a woman today means using your voice to empower others to create positive change. I define the word as being an intersectional feminist. Let me elaborate… We need to be more inclusive — engaging with women who are often forgotten and excluded, that may not have a voice or platform, in order to empower them to speak for themselves. We need to recognize the ongoing issues faced by women, such as exclusion of indigenous women’s’ voices, gender-based violence, the fight for equal pay, and the lack of women (especially minority women) in leadership roles. Recognizing that racial justice, environmental justice, worker’s rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQIA+ rights are women’s issues as well; because every issue is a women’s issue. With the many challenges to women’s rights and equality that still exist — we also need to acknowledge the differences among women themselves, as we are not a homogeneous group.
Did you ever face a challenge simply because you were a woman?
Being a woman of colour, I have faced challenges frequently in my life, whether it be small daily micro-aggressions or more overt bigger challenges. I think staying grounded, using my voice when needed to speak up for myself and others (if needed), and having faith that things will work out in the end, have kept me on track. At times, I have ignored well-intentioned (almost cautionary) advice that didn’t align with what I have envisioned, simply because I am a woman. I think listening to opinions and ideas is important, but trusting your instincts and smashing stereotypes is also needed.
What projects are you working on in 2020?
I am currently working on Kaur Project 2.0. In March 2019, signature experiential programming was launched that includes moderated panel and food-focused conversations. I was profoundly inspired by the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak and the Mool Mantar which encapsulates the meaning of the Guru Granth Sahib in nine attributes. This has lead to developing some Kaur Project programming that reflects these nine attributes. Since November 2019, numerous collaborators have joined the project to create healing, self-discovery, and inward blooming workshops and meditation tools. This shift has enabled more Kaurs and non-Kaurs to collaborate with the project and further inspires the community of Kaurs to fight in solidarity for the right to love oneself and inwardly reflect in a world that teaches you to disappear and delve deeper in how we show up in the world.
What’s your advice for women who wish to follow your path?
Take time to think about what really matters to you. Review your lived experiences, and then seek opportunities that align or make you grow from those experiences. Work hard and be your whole self. Be kind, do good, and keep learning.
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