Keynote Speakers

Nawal El Saadawi


World Renowned Writer
Egypt

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Nawal El Saadawi is a world renowned writer. She is a novelist, a psychiatrist, and author of more than fifty books fiction and nonfiction. She writes in Arabic and lives in Egypt. Her novels and her books on the situation of women have had a deep effect on successive generations of young women and men over the last five decades. As a result of her literary and scientific writings she has had to face numerous difficulties and even dangers in her life. In 1972, she lost her job in the Egyptian Ministry of Health because of her book “Women and Sex” published in Arabic in Cairo (1969) and banned by the political and religious authorities, because in some chapters of the book she wrote against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and linked sexual problems to political and economic oppression.

The magazine Health, which she founded and had edited for more than three years, was closed down in 1973. In September 1981 President Sadat put her in prison. She was released at the end of November 1981, two months after his assassination. She wrote her book “Memoirs” from the Women’s Prison on a roll of toilette paper and an eyebrow pencil smuggled to her cell by an imprisoned young woman in the prostitutes ward. From 1988 to 1993 her name figured on death lists issued by fanatical religious political organizations. On 15 June, 1991, the government issued a decree which closed down the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association over which she presides and handed over its funds to the association called Women in Islam. Six months before this decree the government closed down the magazine Noon, published by the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association. She was editor-in-chief of the magazine.

During the summer of 2001, three of her books were banned at Cairo International Book Fair. She was accused of apostasy in 2002 by a fundamentalist lawyer who raised a court case against her to be forcibly divorced from her husband, Dr. Sherif Hetata. She won the case due to Egyptian, Arab and international solidarity. On 28 January, 2007, Nawal El Saadawi and her daughter Mona Helmy, a poet and writer, were accused of apostasy and interrogated by the General Prosecutor in Cairo because of their writings to honor the name of the mother. They won the case in 2008. Their efforts led to a new law of the child in Egypt in 2008, giving children born outside marriage the right to carry the name of the mother. Also FGM is banned in Egypt by this law in 2008.

Nawal El Saadawi was writing and fighting against FGM for more than fifty years. Her play “God Resigns At the Summit Meeting” was banned in Egypt during November 2006 and she faced a new trial in Cairo court raised against her by Al Azhar in February 2007, accusing her of apostasy and heresy because of her new play. She won the case on 13 May 2008. Nawal El Saadawi had been awarded several national and international literary prizes, lectured in many universities, and participated in many international and national conferences. On May 3 , 2009 , in New York she presented the Arthur Miller Lecture at the Pen International Literary Festival. Her works have been translated into more than forty languages all over the world, and some of them are taught in a number of universities in different countries. The Nawal el Saadawi Forum (NSF) was established, December 2014, in Cairo Egypt, by young men and women who were part of the Egyptian Revolution 2011 at Tahrir Square. The N S F organizes seminars every month (in Cairo and other provinces) discussing her books and thoughts.

Ritu Grover


CEO, The Global Help Desk
India

 

With a substantial experience in the area of administrative outsourcing solutions, Ritu Grover started ‘The Global Helpdesk’ 18 years ago to provide programmes and lifestyle management solutions to corporate houses. Translating her idea into reality, she built this empire and now she successfully provides services to more than 400 top multinationals and companies across India. TGH currently offers a bouquet of services to high-profile clients including TCS, which is still among her corporate clients, McKinsey, PepsiCo and so on—over 300 of them till date. Her list of clients is colourful: besides her first two clients McKinsey and TCS, she also has on board hundreds more multinationals including PepsiCo, Deloitte, Huawei, L&T Infotech, General Electric, HSBC, Microsoft, Wipro, Airtel, Schneider, KPMG, Ericsson, PWC, Ernst & Young, and Vodafone.

Coming from a family of Army background, Ms Grover finished her schooling from Army Public School before graduating from Delhi University and a course in Interior architecture from Delhi. A disciplined lifestyle from the childhood and strong upbringing instilled leadership qualities in her. Ms. Grover has bagged many awards as an entrepreneur, Appreciation award by CNBC and AMEX in 2009, Valued Partner Award by Wipro in 2008 and 2009. Her Expertise lies in Facility Management, Concierge Services, Mailroom Management, Expat Management and Rewards & Recognitions – Optimizing Costs & Productivity because of which she is successfully handling her venture.

As a woman entrepreneur, Ritu always had the dilemma of getting the work and family balance right. “The guilt of not being able to balance well is a feeling we have to live with. To create the perfect balance is the most critical part of our journey,” she says. Ritu feels the inability to freely network with colleagues and clients over free-flowing drinks and late night dinners is a deterrent for women.

Ritu says her biggest achievement is the fact that she has been able to retain her clients for the last 18 years. With successful operations over the last several years, The Global Helpdesk provides facility management services to corporate houses at all the tier 1 cities across India. The expansion plan of the company is to establish operations in tier 2 corporate and industrial hubs. Also on the cards is establishing international operations at Dubai, Sydney, and South Africa.