Walking Her Path of Purpose

Having been brought up in a traditional family in Mumbai, Gina Parekh grew up in a society where a woman’s place was to become a wife or a mother. Growing up, the young Gina was constantly reminded of her place as a woman in a man’s world.

However, despite the societal pressure and familial expectations, she rose above them by juggling her time and commitment between a husband and a newborn baby while still in medical school. She admits that it was not easy being a mother, a wife and a pursuer of dreams all at once.

“Break the mould, don’t be afraid to dream big.”

GINA PAREKH, Executive Director of GW4W Asia

Going to medical school and becoming a doctor was something she set her sights on after a traumatic freak accident that left her hospitalized with serious burns all over her when she was only two years old. While most gave up hope on her, Gina’s mother stayed by her side throughout her recovery journey. This motivated her to pursue medicine and determined to help people in need of healing. Although it was a challenge juggling so many commitments while getting her medical degree, she pulled through with grit and perseverance.

Years later, when she left medical practice for the corporate world, she once again broke expectations when she climbed the rungs of the corporate ladder. But despite being successful, she felt something was amiss. This feeling led her to question what it was in life that she really wanted. Did the accolades and achievement she had garnered over the years make her happy and fulfilled?

After spending some time to herself, engaging in self-reflection and introspection, all these led to a personal discovery and she unravelled her purpose in life – to empower women.

GINA PAREKH Executive Director of GW4W Asia

With this, Gina left the corporate world that she excelled in and joined Global Women for Wellbeing (GW4W), a US-based non-profit organisation that serves to empower women through an array of programmes. After being US-focused for some time, the team decided to explore new territories to empower, and hence, Gina led the expansion of GW4W into Asia, with Singapore being the first stop.

Gina (front row, second from right) with the rest of GW4W team US

However, another challenge stood – being unfamiliar with the non-profit landscape here, she reached out to Centre for Non-Profit Leadership (CNPL) for advice and recommendations in setting up a non-profit organisation. CNPL aided by strengthening leadership capacity and recommended six motivated and committed professionals to GW4W as board members and provided advice and solutions to address the organisation’s needs. With the help rendered by CNPL, it further empowered Gina to continue inspiring women in Asia. Gina has also worked with children from underprivileged homes – teaching them mindfulness as a coping tool. She also volunteers with the Singapore Council for Women’s Organisation (The National Co-ordinating Body for Women’s Organisations in Singapore) and has transformed her bracelet-making hobby into a small charitable business called the PoP Strings Project.

It might seem to some that she has done a lot, but to Gina, her journey has only just begun.

6 Questions x 6 Minutes

What do you hope to teach young women today?

The kind of beauty we should aim for is the one that comes from within – strength, courage and dignity

One power to change the world

Hard work and sheer determination

What advice would you give to women who aspire to take on leadership positions?

Be self-aware and think before speaking, sometimes it’s more important to be kind than to be right. Live your life as a role model for others. A story that you can be proud to tell.

Overcoming roadblocks

I recently read the book by Viktor Frankl, which I highly recommend, called Man’s search for Meaning. One of the statements he makes in the book that had a profound effect on me is “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.”

Most important life lesson

I have learned from my mother whose life has inspired me to live with “Grit, Grace and Gratitude”

One advice you have for women

Break the mould, don’t be afraid to dream big.