Organization inspires, appreciates and empowers women |Guest Column

By Menka Soni

On June 16, Ravishing Women hosted its Ravishing INSPI (inspiration) Talk in Redmond, where a panel of highly distinguished and inspiring women discussed an extremely important and critical issue surrounding women in our society. The issue discussed was “How does marital status dictate the way women are treated in our society and how does the miss/missus classification affect the opportunities that are presented to them?” The goal was to discuss both explicit and implicit issues women face due to their designated miss and missus statuses. With a long-term goal of bringing a revolution worldwide, various measures were discussed to liberate women from the obligation to adhere to these traditionally defined statuses.

Ravishing Women is a nonprofit organization with the mission to inspire, appreciate and empower women to realize their potential and transform their dreams into reality. Aside from a plethora of women-oriented activities they do in the area, Ravishing Women is also the organizer for the Miss India Washington beauty pageant and plans to launch the first-ever Miss Asia Washington this year.

A beauty pageant isn’t merely a competition but a journey that has created several transformational and enriching stories in the lives of those involved. Whether it is a 13-year-old teenager or a 50-year-old woman, Ravishing Women promises to deliver a life-changing experience to be cherished, celebrating a woman’s accomplishments, intellect, grit as well as talent as part of her beauty. In 2016, Ravishing Women proudly introduced Ms. Classic India Washington as part of the pageant to open the doors to women 40 years of age and older.

Based on first-hand experiences shared during the pageant, the Ravishing INSPI Talk was focused on status classification that surrounds women.

Miss, missus or the new-world Ms., women have been historically associated with the identity of their father or their husband and defined by their marital status. Today, the new world is opting for a more status-neutral designation and a beauty pageant is no different. A woman’s beauty, intellect, talent and identity can never be defined by her gender-specific title.

Ravishing Women would like to use their pageant as a platform and go one step further this year, doing away from titles and classifications that bind women. To discuss this concept further, they had a set of strong women panelists already making a difference in society based on the remarkable strength and success they have showcased in both their personal and professional lives.

I facilitated the panel, which included Yuliya Suleymonavo, Molly George, Tana Anderson, Priyanka Yadav, Chaitra Vedulapalli, Kiran Qureshi, Vidhya Shekhar, Meenal Darak (Miss India Seattle 2016) and Ajeta Singhal (Miss India Washington 2015), sharing their stories as part of this discussion in which they had to face setbacks due to age restrictions and marital status change during their journey of the pageant.

The panel discussion revealed a very clear vision that not only inspired people in the room but might initiate a wave inspiring millions of people across the globe in the future.

Ravishing Women is determined to be pioneer for this idea and lead this pageant-reform movement where women no longer need to compete in categories that are based off of their marital status. Their upcoming annual pageant, as part of the Ravishing Women Festival on Sept. 17, will remove the world-accepted elimination criteria of “never married and never had a child.” Every contestant will be evaluated based on their skills, talent and capabilities rather than marital status. The Ravishing Asia Washington 2017 pageant is determined to create history!

Menka Soni is the president and founder of Ravishing Women.