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How Empowered Women International Touched Your Life” was the question we asked our women entrepreneur contestantsWhat does a first place prize winning essay look like? Read Jameela Alter’s powerful story and see for yourself. Click here for a complete list of our other winners.

Jameela was the recipient of a $500 prize for her winning essay plus a package that includes marketing and promotion of her wonderful work in our social media platforms, as well as in a newsletter and blogposts.

Jameela Alter

A Tribute to EWI

I didn’t truly understand the meaning of the term, empowering women, until Marga Fripp invited me several years ago to participate in a graduation ceremony at EWI.  I was asked to speak about my book, “On Clipped Wings,” and to sell my hand-folded hymnals that I enjoy transforming into serene angels.  On Clipped Wings is about two Indian women who soar in spite of their troubled life begging on the streets of Calcutta.  Marga’s warmth and sensitivity gave me the courage to mention that the book was semi-autobiographical in that I had been a victim of female circumcision, but was groping to soar in spite of it.


After having participated in a few more EWI events, Marga said to me one day, “Your business card should state, Author, Artist, Educator,” and I baulked at the idea.  I thought business cards were the prerogative of important professional people.  Yes, I had written a book, I loved creating with my hands, could hardly wait to go to school to teach, but I never thought of myself as anything beyond an ordinary wife, mother, and teacher.  While I have partially realized my dream about writing a book, it has yet to be recommended by Oprah Winfrey and read by millions the world over.  However, EWI has helped me realize that there is a world within the world at large, with or without the help of Oprah; a world that I must create for myself.

Jameela Alter's book "On Clipped Wings"
Jameela Alter’s book “On Clipped Wings”

Believing in myself has been a slow process, now that I have it within my grasp, I’m not letting go of it. I am now retired, but I tutor children at home.  I am about to complete writing my second book.  I love dabbling in different arts and crafts.  Most importantly, however, I am happy because EWI helped me realize that we are all here to carve out unique roads for ourselves, and that the trick is to be a patient, persevering, confident carver of that path.

The last time I participated in a EWI event, I made a few hundred dollars.  But I can say with confidence that EWI’s most precious gift to me has not been invitations to talk, or to sell my hand-made crafts.  It has been the priceless gift of realizing that I am a unique individual, capable of achieving my dreams and making a difference in the lives of some people.  And that sure does make me happy.

Clare Boothe Luce, the first American woman appointed to a major ambassadorial post abroad, and best known for her play, The Women, once said, “But if God had wanted us to think with our wombs, why did he give us a brain?”  I commend all those at EWI who selflessly empower women from all walks of life, year in and year out, to use their head, hands, and hearts to realize their true potential.

Be a changemaker. Make a difference. Donate.

Jameela Alter’s First Place Winning Essay: A Tribute to EWI
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