2020 TEDxAmsterdamWomen

I’ve been a huge TEDx fan for many years, attending several live events in the Netherlands…due to COVID this year, we are practically living our lives online. So no surprise that TEDxAmsterdamWomen was online on 02 December 2020. It was held as a hybrid event where the participants gave their talks in person at Theatre Amsterdam – but all the audience were online watching the livestream – including myself!

Courage to Connect

This year’s theme resonates strongly with me. If you look at my Zestee logo, I’ve been using the tagline: Connect. Communicate. Educate. for a few years, as they reflect my core values and business services. So everything about connecting is very much of interest to me, and these stories below are my own notes while watching the event.

Why Women?

Last year’s TEDxAmsterdamWomen theme had the word “Women” crossed out – as the hope is that within 10 years, there will no longer be the need to focus on improving the situation for women. The reality currently is though that there is not yet equality. Men are not excluded but encouraged to take part – but the focus is on stories and topics

Roxanna Hehakaija

One individual can effect an entire community. Roxanne told the story about Stephanie, who connected with Roxanna’s foundation: Before I met her, people were already talking about her. They said she was dangerous and negative. She said herself that she was lacking discipline – but through this programme she learned about her value as a team player and about what she really wanted to achieve and how to go beyond her own expectations. This gave her the power and freedom to create new expectations for herself and those around her, and now others come to her for advice. We judge people without knowing them but if you have the courage to go beyond these expectations you will see success stories.

It takes time to create a true connection with people, and takes time to change expectations. Why not measure real change like personal growth and the effect on the people around them. Let’s change from a focus on numbers, and focus on sustainable change. This impact measurement tool can measure the ripple effect so people can see the change around them . This should be new criteria for impact measurement to impact governing bodies and policies.

Tessa Boerman

Ruebens, Rembrandt and other famous Dutch painters – everything has been studied in these paintings, but there was a gap in the stories – many of the black figures were not described (in detail). There are many things that stay out of sight – this doesn’t just concern people of colour, but concerns you. Things change as our perspectives change. There is a power and danger in a limited perspective. Reality is very subjective – but in filmmaking we frame reality as we want you to see it. You can see me on stage but not what’s around me – you can never see the big picture – but what if you could? If we want a world that is more inclusive, we have to change our perspective and this is scary…it will change your world view and the way you look at yourself. But let’s be brave and try to look at things from a different point of view and see reality change before our eyes.

Nadja van der Sluis

After a manic episode in Australia while on an internship, Nadja woke up strapped to a hospital bed. She discovered she is bipolar….and a legal officer. Having a job and dealing with a mental illness can be a stigma. It’s an invisible disability. A labour market should be open and equal, UN Human Rights legally enforces this however the reality is different. Many people with a disability do not have a job. I was ashamed of my condition for 8 years and this is the cause of the problem. Organisations do not know how to hire people with a disability and the self stigma is difficult. Colleagues and managers can make a difference though with the courage to connect – a simple smile can help. I dare you to do the same. It’s taboo as people are afraid. But 43% of the Dutch population deal with mental illness in some way but people don’t talk (enough) about it.

Ferry Zandvliet

Surviving a terrorist attack and becoming a positive person – is it possible. It was me and my own behaviour that made my dark days even darker. Poor me. I victimised myself for many years, but 5 years away this woman came into my life and changed everything. Friday 13th a terrorist attack took place in Paris in Bataclan. My friends and I made it out alive, many others didn’t. I suffered PTSD, chronic insomnia and nightmares, all the ingredients were there, it was almost expected that I would be dark, negative again. She told me “it’s ok to cry” and gave me the permission – she treated me like family and gave me what I needed most, a shoulder to cry on. Nurturing a total stranger as she did, it made me feel safe and loved. This encounter woke me up. We were one and the same, human beings traumatised by terrorism. Sharing grief can heal. Instead of being angry I wanted to help other people, so I started a movement as sharing grief is like medicine. I became friends with the father of a terrorist. I knew sharing grief can heal. He lost his son. There were 89 people at this event that didn’t make it out alive. Tell the people around you what they mean to you. Veronique showed me it’s ok to show emotions, but that didn’t come natural to me.

Sweet Like Chocolate

Dancers Victor Callens and Maria Ribas treated us to a beautiful dance performance to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. A woman dances with her shadows, alter ego, companion and voyeur….I enjoyed the changes in balance of power and connection.

Afaina de Jong

An Amsterdam based architect working to represent people and cultural momvements that are not traditionally represented. Our identities have become more complex, and though we come together in places in the city, these are gentrifying and becoming more universal in their design. So how do architects take these complexities into our day to day reality. I believe there is a lens we can use to view the built environment – intersectional feminism was new to me at one stage too – I hadn’t even considered feminism in architecture. One of the first Google hits was a building in Australia where the architects said they were inspired by Beyonce’s curves – really? I opened a rabbit hole. Public spaces should be a reflection of all its residents. They should be open and accessible to everyone regardless of gender, race, identity.

Margo Mars

Dutch founder of “Leif” a London based creative concept concept studio. Advertising is shaping the way we think through stories. I’ve been producing ads for many years and love how they can influence how we see the world and do good. I want you to question though – who is telling us these stories. It’s very common for a male director to tell a global story about what it feels like to be a woman. It’s a collective blind spot as a woman will not be accepted telling a story about what it’s like to have balls. Great stories are being told and made everywhere, why do brands tell us stories through filters that “don’t match up”. Are diverse groups also getting the opportunity? Diversity behind the lens is lacking. Because what is behind the public is hidden, the demand isn’t strong. Demand diversity about who shapes stories. We must make space for new narratives. Stories change global consciousness.

Dare to Fly

The talented 14 year old Megan Kolk shared her strength both physically but also mentally in a lovely hoop performance. “I feel free as soon as I get on stage. At school I get worried what people will think and say but on stage I feel a weight has lifted and I can connect to the music and every movement. I feel it as a flow and a rhythm”.

Angela Maas

A cardiologist who specialises in female heart disease, and one of the most influential female doctors in NL. “Women are weird” – a powerful opening line, in a story about the medical system not understanding the symptoms of women dealing with heart disease. Thirty years later I feel ashamed I failed many female patients as I was afraid of saying stupid things – but women are half of all our patients, and we have learned that heart disease is very different in men and women. They are different in every cell in their body and this has consequences – we need to use different pathways to treat men and women. Scientific process is slow to translate to clinical practices. Not only biology is different, so are communication styles. Men are direct and tell their symptoms and ask for an answer. Women tell stories and connect things with each other that aren’t always true, and the most important message may come when they leave the office and may be wrongly diagnosed. Women need to prepare their visits and communicate in a more direct way, but healthcare is changing and you can help your doctor to think in a more sensitive way. Women are very often walking around with mis diagnosed symptoms but we can change this – how? Dare to connect with your doctor. Perhaps by asking a personal question. Your input matters. Ask three questions – ask what is the reason of my symptoms, what are WE going to do about it and what does it mean for my future? Patients and doctors are more and more partners in care, health care needs to be more individual and gender sensitive and especially better for women – you are the best ambassadors to make this happen.

Thank you

A huge thank you to presented Nadia Moussaid, TEDxAmsterdamWomen licensee Helene Geijtenbeek and the whole TEDxAmsterdamWomen team. An inspiring and educational evening.

Want more?

This is an annual event, so if you’d like to apply for (hopefully live!) tickets next year, would like to watch previous talks or simply more information visit: https://www.tedxamsterdamwomen.nl

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