Meet Aathira Chennat: The New GWI Program and Data Manager

WOMEN'S WAY
WOMEN’S WAY

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We recently welcomed Aathira Chennat to the WOMEN’S WAY team as our new GWI Program and Data Manager. We are so excited to have them on board! Read on below to learn more about Aathira, find out what brought them to this work, and how they hope to make a difference through the Gender Wealth Institute and WOMEN’S WAY.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I came to Philly by way of Ann Arbor, Michigan nearly six years ago. My parents settled there after immigrating to this country from Kerala, a state in Southwest India. I was raised by my mother, my older sister, and a community of aunties who fed, chauffeured, and yelled at me like their own. Growing up, my many childhood homes were sites for plenty of dancing, singing, and meatball curry.

In Philly I’ve found family who’ll feed me, goof around, and dance with me. In my free time I’m likely working with my mutual aid group that coordinates food redistribution in West Philadelphia, joy riding my bike down MLK drive, or napping with my cat.

What brought you to this work?

Dignity is a concept I’m constantly considering — it should be endemic like oxygen to air, instead it’s a scarce commodity. As a person who is trying to heal and persist despite this distortion, I look to the myriad ways oppressed folks around the world have come together to claim their dignity: art, music, cuisine, and community networks of care. I see WOMEN’S WAY as part of Philadelphia’s network, convening women and gender-expansive people with lived experiences of financial insecurity and facilitating the space and resource-share for us to envision systems change.

What does wealth mean to you?

Wealth is dignity, it is the ability to self-determine. For me, this means the ability to experience joy and pleasure and rest — specifically, the ability to grant these experiences for myself and provide them for my loved ones and community members.

How do you hope to make a difference in the region through the Gender Wealth Institute and WOMEN’S WAY?

I believe we are building a coalition of actors: women, folks of marginalized genders, and allies in their capacities as researchers, service providers, caregivers, workers, and advocates who are working collectively towards uplifting a fuller conception of wealth, one that acknowledges our history of systemic oppression and wealth extraction and expands beyond traditional financial indicators. When we as a people redefine our relationship with wealth, name the barriers and stigma, we can start to heal. We share with others, and they do the same until we get so loud that those in positions of power must listen.

Are there any projects or programs that you are particularly excited to work on?

I’m excited to have a hand in so many amazing initiatives! I get particularly excited about the community-led narrative work we’re doing through the Change the Narrative Fellowship and Gender Wealth Index Research Project. Lived experiences precede the statistics, and I think it’s great that we’re working with our community to incubate platforms for their stories to lead.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Philadelphia?

Oh! That’s impossible to narrow down. Maybe gobbling up water ice (dark cherry and lemon!) and a soft pretzel at Fred’s on a stupid hot summer day.

To learn more about WOMEN’S WAY and our work to advance gender and racial equity, visit womensway.org

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WOMEN'S WAY
WOMEN’S WAY

WOMEN’S WAY is the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women, girls, and gender equity.