The call of a “minga” is a very powerful thing. We came together on April 16, at the annual Influencers of Tomorrow summit, to benefit all people. That is essentially what the call of “minga” is, at least according to Marc Kielburger, the co-founder of Free the Children and Me to We. The Influencers of Tomorrow Summit, was organized by ten young women from Girls e-Mentorship (GEM) and The Bishop Strachan School (BSS), and consisted of many influential guest speakers, with various activities, and amazing SWAG bags at the end of the event.

IOT Summit was all about how we can make Toronto more inclusive? and how we can get more women accepting leadership roles? We had influential women from all over Canada to speaking at the event. Canadian physician and womens rights advocate, Alaa Murabit, Canadian ambassador for UNICEF, Zahra Al-Harazi, Premier of Ontario and Women’s Advocate, Kathleen Wynne, and Humans Rights Watch, Jasmine Herlt, and Independent Film Director Shadeism, Nayani Thiyagarajah. As well as a musical performance by Nefe.

An average 16 year-old might just be finishing the eleventh grade, but Alaa Murabit, finished high school at 15 years old.  Alaa then moved on to finish medical school, at 22. Alaa’s secret to achieving her level of success, was that she thought she knew it all. It didn’t make her popular, but it made her successful, it made her an ‘overachiever’. It made her intellectual, understanding, confident, and finally it made her the voice of women in Libya. It made her women’s rights and youth activist. At only 26, Alaa has achieved more than one can imagine. Alaa said that only 1-in-10 women ask for promotions, while 9-in-10 men do. Women are capable of being leaders, so why shouldn’t they ask for a promotion? One of the most important things Alaa said in her captivating speech was that the IOT summit was not impressive, it was expected. We as women, should be expected, to come together, and talk about how we can create change, how we can shift the paradigm, and work towards a better future. It is expected of us to put in work, and get results.

Kathleen Wynne is the Premier of Ontario, but she is also the first openly gay head of government, and only the second in the entire English-speaking world. She not only represents women, but also the LGBTQ community. When she first decided to run for school trustee, she didn’t know much about what it entails, but she has learned along the way. She has learned to make educated decisions, by not only listening to the citizens, but also listening to scientists, and professionals who she can trust. Kathleen Wynne has learned that everyone will never be pleased with you, but the best thing to do, is what’s best for the country.

Throughout the day, we heard from many other influential people, like Zahra Al-Harazi, who spoke about her personal experience of getting married at 17 and then moving back and forth from Canada to Yemen to finally having a successful marketing and communications studio. We got to listen to the beautiful voice of Nefe. Canadian Olympic Gold-Medalist, Clara Hughes also sent a video message talking about how she overcame depression, and came to win multiple medals in speed skating, and cycling. 

Thank you to all the guest speakers, and sponsors Burgundy Asset Management, RBC Canada, Empire Life and MaRS Discovery District. The IOT summit, was both rewarding, and influential.

Tabassum Lakhi is a Creative Writing Intern at GEM and also a GEMgirl.