Ahead of the upcoming Annual International Women's Day event hosted by the Drinks Association, we took the opportunity to interview our keynote speaker, Fiori Giovanni, to give our audience a chance to know a little more about her before the big day.
Your fascinating life journey, from escaping war-torn Eritrea in Africa as a teenage soldier to becoming a best-selling author and motivational speaker, is incredibly inspiring. Can you share how your experience in your younger years fuelled your determination to defy your destiny and find personal freedom?
For as long as I can remember my father used to say to me that I was brilliant, beautiful, and most capable. He used to tell me how one day I was going to lead a country, a nation. His affirmations became the cornerstone of my unwavering self-belief, setting me apart from most girls in my village.
Despite his best intentions, part of my father's thinking was still influenced by the customs and traditions of our country.
Being a woman in Africa takes everyday challenges to a whole, new crazy level and accompanies a daily dose of despair. I knew that a place where women are treated like second class citizens was no place for me!
It was the norm for girls to be married off as young as 9-12 years old, and have babies while they were still practically babies themselves. My sister was one of those girls.
Seeing my sister torment in a marriage she wasn't ready for and endure countless trials, was one of the things that fuelled my determination to break free from these oppressive traditions.
We know that you’ll be sharing some personal insights and experiences that centre on positivity, bravery, and resilience. Can you give us a glimpse of how these principles have played a role in your own success, both in your career and personal life?
People often ask me how I continually overcome such an enormous adversity, and the answer lies in the years I dedicated to introspection, embracing personal growth, and cultivating proactive pain management skills.
When tragedy struck, these preparations didn't eliminate the pain, but they enabled me to navigate it, empowering me with strength, wisdom, clarity, and peace that I need in that moment and eventually build my resilience and inner power and inner strength.
The unwavering resilience, inner power, and strength I have serves as my sanctuary, my solace, my place of boundless possibilities that serve me like no other.
Gender stereotypes often pose challenges for women in various fields. What advice would you offer to women seeking to overcome obstacles and achieve their goals, especially where gender stereotypes may be prevalent?
1. Don’t take it personally: In our journey through life, we encounter not just facts and logic, but also deeply ingrained beliefs and biases. Gender stereotypes just happen to be one of those beliefs. It's crucial to not take these personally or let them affect you deeply, as they don't define who you are and won’t affect your future if you don’t let them.
2. Focus on what you can control: Become exceptionally skilled in your field to consistently disprove any doubts about your capabilities. Embrace every opportunity to prove that gender should never limit someone's potential.
3. Support other women: A strong woman stands up for herself, but a stronger woman stands for others.
4. Continuously work on yourself: Cultivate self-belief, self-confidence, self-worth, show compassion towards others, and recognise your responsibility and your role in shaping a more equitable society.
5. Have faith: In recent years, we’ve already seen the significant progress that has been made in various aspects of gender equality. These efforts encompass the reduction of the gender pay gap, the increase of women in managerial positions, the enhancement of women's political representation, the facilitation of access to education and opportunities, and the implementation of legal reforms to safeguard women's rights.
One of the key goals of the Drinks Association’s Embrace Difference Council is to create initiatives to ensure gender equality is a strategic priority for all member companies. What would you say are the tangible benefits an organisation can experience by actively fostering an inclusive environment and supporting gender equity in the workplace?
1. Expanded knowledge and perspectives: Women bring unique insights and experiences to the table, which can broaden the collective knowledge and perspectives within the organisation.
2. Improved team dynamics: Gender diversity can enhance team dynamics by bringing together different communication styles and problem-solving approaches.
3. Enhanced collaboration and cooperation: Women often bring strong interpersonal skills and tend to excel in building relationships, leading to effective teamwork and cooperation among employees.
4. Increased customer understanding: Women are an important consumer demographics, their insights can be crucial in developing products, services, and marketing strategies that resonate with a wider range of customers.
5. Better profitability: Several studies have found evidence that companies employing women in large numbers tend to outperform their competitors on various measures of profitability.
And finally, as we eagerly anticipate your presentation next year, could you please give our audience a sneak peek into what they can expect to see and hear from you on the day, and some of the messages you'll be sharing?
Your audience can expect to gain fresh insights on resilience, courage, and navigating change, as well as recognising the valuable lessons that challenging times offer. My unusual story will both challenge and uplift the audience, evoking tears and laughter while leaving them energised and motivated to take action.
See Fiori take the stage at our 2024 International Women's Day luncheon on Friday, 8th March, at the Royal Randwick in Sydney.
Tickets are now on sale. Don’t miss out on what is sure to be an inspiring, thought-provoking and fun day of celebration and networking.
Get your tickets here
Check out some highlights from the 2023 International Women's Day event in the video below: