Didihood Co-Founder Roohi Sahajpal on Community Building for South Asian Womxn
While navigating a career in the creative field may be a daunting feat for some less familiar, Roohi Sahajpal, the co-founder of Didihood, hopes to help ease that experience for people. “Didihood, which means ‘sisterhood’ focuses on fostering connections between South Asian womxn working in creative industries through networking, mentorship and community building,” she explains. “We started Didihood as a response to being the only South Asian womxn in the newsroom. We noticed that for a lot of South Asian womxn, we are the first in our families to work in creative industries and with that comes a slew of challenges, including not having any mentors to help you along your career journey.”
Sahajpal’s Didihood focuses on creating a resource for all self-identifying South Asian womxn. “We are growing our network to be a safe space for womxn to come together and be able to get support and ask for help as they navigate their careers,” she says. “We are also creating spaces for representation and storytelling with workshops, art exhibits, and panel discussions giving voice for South Asian womxn to have an active role in their narratives in Canadian mainstream media and beyond.”
The initiative, however, has come across its own setbacks. “I think the biggest challenge is streamlining our message in a succinct way to show the importance of the work we are doing and bringing that to womxn in need,” she says. “We’re also in the process of applying for funding to keep Didihood going.” Roohi says people can also become more involved in their own communities by creating mentorship opportunities for women of colour in their organizations.
Through Didihood, Sahajpal hopes to inspire and empower individuals digressing from more “conventional” career paths. “One of the biggest challenges for womxn in the Didihood network is breaking free from the career and gendered norms that are set upon them,” she goes on. “For some of the womxn in our network, they are the first in their families to pursue a career in the arts. We’re trying to address this issue by launching a mentorship program in September 2019 that will pair young womxn with a mentor already established in their career to provide support. We hope that this will be a catalyst inn bridging the gap and making work in the creative fields a little less scary.”
Didihood’s mentorship program in Toronto and Vancouver begins in September 2019.