United Way’s South Asian Advisory Council event celebrates empowerment of women

MISSISSAUGA (January 31, 2013) – United Way of Peel Region’s South Asian Advisory Council will host its inaugural gala, APNA Peel Gala Empowering our Women, on Saturday, March 2, 2013. The event will take place at Sagan Banquet & Convention Centre 7180 Edwards Boulevard in Mississauga from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $50 each.

The event will celebrate the empowerment of women, particularly in the South Asian community. It will also showcase accomplished and creative South Asian female artists through a visual art exhibit, auction, dance and vocal performances.


The event’s Honorary Chair is Raj Girn, CEO of Anokhi Media. Girn has come to represent an icon of an empowered South Asian woman in the Greater Toronto Area.  

Esa Para Esananda, chair of the South Asian Advisory Council, will address the gathering and will reinforce the “importance and applicability of female empowerment today and in the future.”

To purchase tickets, or to learn more about event sponsorship opportunities, contact Ilmana Fasih at 416-737-9876 or or Esa Para Esananda at 416-833-5887 or

About the South Asian Advisory Council
The South Asian Advisory Council was established in May 2009 to assist United Way in understanding the needs and challenges of Peel’s South Asian community. The formation of the South Asian Advisory Council is part of a broader United Way initiative to foster and build relationships and address key social issues within ethno-specific communities in Peel. Members of the council are volunteers of South Asian descent living or working in Peel Region and constitute a mix of individuals coming from diverse subgroups of the South Asian region, comprising of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

About United Way of Peel Region
United Way of Peel Region inspires people from all walks of life to come together to raise funds, volunteer and stimulate policy and attitude changes that lead to the improvement of people’s quality of life in Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga. United Way’s community investment focus is on helping individuals and families move from a life of poverty to one full of possibilities, ensuring all children have the opportunity to be all they can be, and building healthy, strong communities. For more information on United Way’s work in the community visit:

Doris Mohrhardt
Communications & Marketing
905-602-3624 (desk)
416-420-9975 (mobile)

Raj Girn

CEO Anokhi Media- A journey towards woman empowerment

United Way of Peel Region’s South Asian Advisory Council is proud to have chosen Raj Girn, the CEO of Anokhi Media and Publications as the Honorary Chair for the Apna Peel Gala 2013 - Empowering our Women being held on March 2, 2013 sat Sagan Banquet Hall, Mississauga.

Raj Girn’s  journey of life, both at personal and at professional level, serves as a role model of an empowered South Asian woman, who attained it through perseverance, struggle and a faith in herself.

Born in Leicester England, as Rajwant Bhondy, into an immigrant family which was striving to grow its business with time. She was exposed into entrepreneurial skills by default through her involvement in the family business from a very young age. However, as is common in most youngsters in immigrant families, she had to juggle between staunch domestic cultural setting and the influence of the external mainstream society.

The art connoisseur in her compelled her to pursue her dream to be able to write and record songs, and enroll in Shakespeare and Comedy amateur Theatre. However, like most conservative parents from the Community, they thought getting her married was the safest bet with a girl. Wedlock to a dental practitioner brought her to Canada. Again, like a supportive wife, she pursued a course of Dental Hygiene from Rochester NY, where she was awarded the ‘Warner-Lambert Professional Hygiene Award’, the first South Asian in the history of the school to receive this award. During her 2 years in Rochester, Raj also helped design, brand and market her husband’s dental practice which is now one of the most successful practices in the region. But the 2 years apart lead to the 7 year marriage ending in 2000 as the couple grew apart. Raj was faced with single parenthood and the reality of having to make a decision about what to do with the rest of her life.

Left on her own, her passion towards Art was rekindled. Raj decided to now follow her heart, and went back to school from 2000-2001 to learn about the media business. After initial work as air reporters in local Television channels, the entrepreneur in her conceived an idea of Anokhi Media Corporation. And hence came the birth of ANOKHI.  

Raj had a vision, an ANOKHI (‘unique’) vision, which was centered on the belief that people and life are multi-faceted, and that no one is one dimensional in what they believe in or do, so the ANOKHI mandate was born out of this belief. Launched in 2002, ANOKHI magazine is North America’s longest running print magazine of this kind with the most frequency, having featured A-List South Asian celebrities in cover stories since 2002, and A-List mainstream celebrities in their prime since 2003, well before any other South Asian media.

When we approached Raj with the offer of Honorary Chair, for the Apna Peel Gala, we found her very humble and honest.  When being confronted with what does an empowered woman in Raj believes in, she replied:

“Contrary to popular belief, being truly empowered as a woman does not mean that you have to be all the definitions that are usually aligned with being a ‘modern’ woman, that is, being aggressive in nature or  forgoing your upbringing related to your religious, cultural or traditional belief system. I strongly believe that it is these very historical teachings that assist us in finding our personal journey to carving our individual identities, which is the very cornerstone to being a woman who has created a place of power from within, which in turn, elevates her perspective about herself. This elevation is where empowerment anchors itself and thus embodies in all life’s actions and interactions. Be true and honest to yourself, and by default, this mindset with keep you consistently empowered through thick and thin.”