“It’s time for all youth to feel empowered and be able to realize their limitless potential through literacy, advocacy, and mentorship, so that we can live in a world of equal and equitable opportunity irrespective of ones gender, race, and socio-economic background.“
2021 Top 30 Under 30
What do you do and how are you working towards the SDGs?
I currently work as the business development manager at FRACMOD, an oil and gas sub-surface consulting firm. I have a background in chemical engineering from Queen’s University and spent some time working for Bankers Petroleum, and then with PwC Canada in management consulting prior to joining my current firm. I am very passionate about philanthropy and have volunteered with many different organizations over the years. Currently, I am the acumen manager with Young Women in Energy (YWE), and the founder and director of Apar Initiative, a non-profit organization with a mission to empower girls to build their STEM and leadership capabilities.
What inspired you to get involved with community development and social justice?
Growing up, I was always quite involved in the community through volunteering with different organizations with my family and friends. It was at the age of 21, after completing my degree, when I really got immersed in social justice. At Bankers Petroleum, I worked in Albania as a production engineer-in-training. During this time, I decided to do some youth outreach work in a small town caller Fier. I spoke at schools about engineering, and organized and facilitated design workshops. Many young girls told me how excited they were to learn about engineering, however, the feedback from one particular girl impacted me deeply. She told me she had never met a female engineer before, but now wanted to be an engineer when she grew up, just like me. This touching moment truly opened my eyes to the importance of empowering and motivating youth by being a positive role model and mentor. This experience ultimately led me to pursue my passion for social justice through promoting education, literacy, and gender equity.
There are less than 10 years left until the 2030 deadline for achieving the sustainable development goals (SDGs). What issue do you feel is important to address now more than ever?
When I look at the state of gender equity and access to education around the world, I see that we still have so much work to do in order to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Many women around the world, especially in low-income countries, face certain barriers preventing them from equal access to education. These barriers include societal expectations and gender norms, as well as systemic barriers to entry, such as laws in Belgium banning symbols that express religious or political opinions in higher education, like the hijab. These current issues around the globe remind us that effective change requires empathy, perseverance and sustained effort, individually and collectively.
What do we need to do now?
This year has been quite difficult, but also very eye-opening. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced all people around the world to navigate a new way of living and connecting with others. Furthermore, we are witnessing people stand united for human rights and in the fight for justice through movements such as Black Lives Matter, and the farmers’ protests in India. To achieve a fair and just world and drive real impact, we need to openly listen, question how “things are done”, and stand up and advocate for what we believe is right. I believe all change starts small, and if we educate ourselves and those around us, we are taking incremental steps towards achieving a more fair and just world by 2030.
Raman is the Founder and Executive Director of Apar Initiative, a non-profit with a mission to empower girls by developing their STEM and leadership capabilities.
Raman speaking at local schools in Fier, Albania about the opportunities in engineering.
Through Young Women In Energy’s (YWE), Raman Sawhney and Katie Smith launched the podcast, Changing the Face of Energy, profiling female voices from the next generation of industry leaders in Alberta.
Raman partnered with students at Willow Creek Composite High School in Claresholm, AB to raise funds and awareness for Operation Smile Canada. The group collectively raised $4500 dollars, and made a video highlighting the important role technology can play in solving the world’s greatest challenges.