There’s nothing quite like meeting young women in leadership who are making waves and forging paths for other women to do the same simply by being themselves. I had the great pleasure to sit with Sweta Daboo, who reignited many fires in me as she talked about her big ideas and integrations.
“Hope is everywhere,” she quietly muses as we start our conversation.
The young woman from Mauritius (a small island near Madagascar) moved to PEI in 2016 to pursue her education. Now she is the Executive Director of PEI Coalition for Women in Government; she co-hosts the podcast Dialogue with Drake and Daboo; and she is a co-lead for Mask Central PEI, which is a collective created to allow various groups and organizations looking for donations of non-medical masks to connect and interact with generous donors.
As a fellow CFA, Sweta and I both shared our gratitude for the ways in which Islanders cultivate space for us to share our big, bold ideas. The close-knit Island community allows for relational work to happen across sectors, departments, and industries.
“Government may not be easy, but it’s accessible,” Sweta says with conviction. “Unlike other jurisdictions where there is often a huge disconnect between politicians and other citizens, PEI has a unique position where we are all connected.”
Sweta is an integrator with big impact and influence. She sees injustices and gaps in systems and she endeavors to fill them through engagement and implementation. She’s all over the news now but when she started university, she was the quiet kid who didn’t say much.
“I sat next to this girl for the entire year and still didn’t know her name.”
This self-recognition propelled Sweta outside of her comfort zone as she started to dabble in student politics when she noticed low involvement and engagement of international students. She found her footing there because she was encouraged and supported by other women to do so. She surrounded herself with like-minded and like-hearted people who shared similar vision and priorities for addressing common challenges.
Now she is a twenty-something year old Executive Director and her leadership encourages and supports many.
“We have a duty to inspire others,” she emphasizes boldly.
Sweta beams with optimism and hope for the future as she says these challenging times also provide incredible opportunity. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlights structural issues that people were ignoring in the past.”
As she reflects on her peers and society more broadly, Sweta says there’s an increase in conversations and actions as it relates to policy. “People are more engaged, generally speaking, as we are collectively seeing the impacts and influences that policy has on our day-to-day life.”
When I was a graduate student studying policy nearly 15 years ago, we would have been hard pressed to find two young women hosting a podcast on policy (and not just because podcasts didn’t really exist then). Now, Sweta co-hosts Dialogue with Drake and Daboo, a progressive podcast on policy, politics, and pop culture.
“We are all experts in something,” she notes enthusiastically. “Everyone has something to teach and I’m so grateful that I get to talk to and learn from so many incredible people when they’re guests on the podcast.”
I tried to get the inside scoop on who the special guests will be in March but we’ll have to wait and see. “I don’t want to jinx it,” she chuckles, “so stay tuned to hear our amazing guests for International Women’s Day.”
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and Sweta embodies this determination and drive to make the world a better place every day. I left our conversation feeling fired up and inspired to take on the world. Strong women like Sweta have a way of doing that.
“It’s ok to feel out of place and uncomfortable as we work in systems that were never set up for us. This shows us where the work needs to be done.”
Importantly, Sweta looped back to our conversation about relationships: “Don’t let your fire go out,” she says, “find the people who are like-minded and like-hearted and with the local and global community, the possibilities for connection are limitless.”