At the dawn of another New Year, the ink has barely dried on the long list of resolutions we have penned …and we are ready to face 2016, all guns blazing! In addition to the ‘travel more’ and ‘read more’ that we know have found their way on to your checklist, here are some resolutions we think your list could really use – so that this year you help change other people’s lives, as well, for the better!
Sometimes, to be a role model, you need not do the kind of work that will earn you a white mural of yourself outside a museum. Perhaps your maid is deciding which child to send to school? Tell her, nay – show her what an educated daughter can do. Or perhaps you have a friend who got married early but still wants her PhD? Some simple words of encouragement should do the trick; all they need is a push. Telling them, “You know what? You can. You should. Heck, you will!” should get the ball rolling. Sometimes, to be a role model, all you have to do is back someone’s dream and assuring them that they are worth it.
At work, at home, or in a café. For the freedom to choose a life, a career, equal compensation and harder assignments, for a grande smoothie with whipped cream, minus the judgement …know that you are worth it, just by virtue of being you. We are at a point in this women’s movement, where even though we have been made aware of our rights, we still feel we have no voice. Sometimes, we create these barriers for ourselves, fearing a backlash. Shake off this mindset. And focus on this very simple funda- you’ll never get what you want if you don’t even ask. So ask more.
This is the only version of that obnoxious Hollywood song that you should be humming subconsciously in your shower. ‘Stop looking for your hero elsewhere, it is you, yourself!’ Do that alone, a venture or an adventure, which you felt you needed your husband or boyfriend’s help for! Always dreamed of riding a bike to Ladakh, but waiting to land a biker boy who will oblige? Your approach to this has been all wrong. Learn to ride a bike, find a bunch of Rastafarians such as yourself and burn that rubber already. Only taking the first step is difficult; once you do, you will experience the empowering joys of holding the key to your own happiness.
Do this by understanding why things are the way they are. As a woman, you might have a first person account to share on what might be acting as a glass ceiling for women to advance. Assess where you notice the pipeline breaking, and start with your own company. Is it after young aspirants enter your company that they have their wings clipped, or is that they never knew they had wings in the first place? Did it happen in college? Or their childhood? Start with researching your field. As a woman in authority or with whatever amount of clout you have, take responsibility to right the wrongs. Like Manisha Raisinghani did with her tech company Loginext, as CTO and co-founder. Remember: a situation remains bleak not because the bad guys are winning, it’s because the good guys choose to do nothing about it.
As a woman – and a man, too – but especially as a woman, you will have stronger empathy towards another woman only because you have actually walked a mile in her shoes. So it is your responsibility to at least give the most worthy causes of our time a listen, instead of writing it off based on hearsay. I say, take some time out, and research the cause to see if you are a feminist.
I can save you the weeks of research and eating your own words by simply guaranteeing to you that you are one. Trust me, you have been one all along. If you believe in equality, if you believe you deserve every bit of the agency and as anyone else, you are one. Like our poster child Amy Poehler puts it: Saying you’re not a feminist is like saying “I don’t believe in cars, but I drive one and I love that it gets me places and makes life so much easier and faster and I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Here’s some more food for thought from Ellen Page. “I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” And once you discover you are indeed one, help someone else see the light, too.
Women forget that they have been given lives and bodies not only to support children, families, husbands, distant aunts and uncles (read: parasites) who live and feed off of you. Your life is your own, and it is only fair that you do things just to live it up your way, once in a while. A time out to think and unwind is also a great way to zoom out and get things – all your life’s duties, responsibilities versus your wishes and desires – in perspective. You will be able to optimise your time better.
Because all these years, you thought these skills were meant for adults/ parents/ older siblings/manly men/ literally anyone but you. But now, you’re all grown up, captain of your own ship, go to work every day, solve issues relating to national security maybe – except, surrender your own living room to the cockroach when he comes visiting. It’s time you engage in mortal combat with him – and with the other life-skills you have been avoiding all your life. Learn how to change a bulb, hammer a nail, put those cockroaches or lizards in a perfect hostage situation, sew on a button, patch up a leaky pipe, fix the tubelight, keep your computer up to date – the possibilities are endless, to acquire these little nuggets and save up for that rainy day.
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