#MightyWomanMonday: Jacinta Gulasekharam
Jacinta Gulasekharam is originally from Feilding in the Manawatu but fell in love with Wellington when she moved there to study at Victoria University. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Economics and Public Policy and is the Partnership Manager for FlexiTime - where she manages their enterprise accounts alongside their nation-wide network of bookkeepers and accountants.
In 2016, Jacinta co-founded Dignity, a women’s well-being initiative that creates access to period products, in an effort to eradicate period poverty. She was also the Campaign Lead for the Positive Periods campaign, which successfully lobbied the New Zealand Government to provide free period products to school students. Alongside this, Jacinta mentors with the First Foundation and gives back by supporting the start-up community.
Taking time out of her remarkably busy schedule, Jacinta kindly answered some questions for us and we were very excited to learn about the amazing wāhine toa that she is! Read about Jacinta below:
Which song would you say best sums you up, and why?
This is potentially the hardest question I’ve ever been asked! After much consideration, I’m locking in "Bring It All Back" by S Club 7, purely for the determination and aspiration of the lyrics. The iconic lines of: “Don't stop, never give up, Hold your head high and reach the top, Let the world see what you have got” personify the way in which I keep going and stay focused on the goal at hand.
Do you have any fun or quirky talents that not many people know about?
I can play croquet really well and was a runner up champion in a high school competition in 2013. This is the sport that appears on Alice in Wonderland with the mallets, where you are hitting a ball along the ground in a neat square. I can do a trick shot called a “jump shot” where you jump over the opposition’s ball in front of you.
Imagine it’s your 30th birthday - what have you achieved?
I've become a confident, self assured, secure woman. This includes financial independence and acceptance of my body. I have a deep understanding of who I am as a person and what values drive my decision making. I know what matters most to me in life, anything that doesn’t I don’t let it bother me for more than a minute!
What does “Dignity” mean to you?
To me, dignity is having the means for what you need and feeling good about yourself. This equals having gained and sustaining the things that you require in life to be who you want to be.
In regards to the social enterprise that I co-founded with Miranda Hitchings, I am not too sure where the name “Dignity” came from! Apparently, when Miranda and I were flatting together, I went to her room and said “what about Dignity?” and she liked it. With a word like this, there is so much meaning and it becomes more of an ethos. That within our team, with how we distribute the period products and how we interact, it is with an intention of dignity and treating people with respect. Having dignity means you have the fundamental needs of a human being and period products are just one aspect of this we can provide that through.
You recently had a major success with your Positive Periods campaign!
CAN YOU tell us about this and how it made you feel knowing that you have helped towards making such a positive impact in the lives of young New Zealand wāhine?
It hasn’t really sunk in yet, to be honest! I think the announcement shows great intent and direction but I’m a person that likes to see the results before declaring the win. It makes me feel proud that there will be an official national program for period products like the UK, Wales and Scotland. New Zealand will be a better place with this access being normalised and budgeted for, just like other school supplies.
What advice would you give to other young women who also want to make a difference and achieve success in their lives?
Be kind to yourself, treat yourself how you would treat your best friend or whānau. Your relationship with yourself is the longest you'll ever have, so treasure it and back yourself no matter what. I’ve often been my own barrier with projects and ideas I’ve wanted to start, so my advice is: don’t get in the way of yourself and give things a go. The worst that can happen is that you get to move on to your next awesome idea!
In terms of making a difference, what do you think the world needs more from young leaders right now?
We need our young leaders to not wait to be the change they want to see. Create and start initiatives that matter to you. Shonda Rhimes has an awesome quote that says “you belong in every room you enter” and that had a profound impact on me.
You belong wherever you are and deserve to be heard!
Time is the most precious resource on earth, so spend this wisely and make a difference that will exist beyond yourself. Never doubt yourself and know that you are never alone!
Lastly, you have mentioned that you want to be a person who “can make lives easier and help shape the world to be a better place”.
In what ways do you aim to do this?
I really hope that every person I interact with goes away feeling good about themselves and what they can achieve in the world. I really try to bring out the best in people and my brain starts to whir when I meet new people - to think who can I connect this person to, to achieve their dreams.
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