Any woman, who does not let the stereotypes, sexism, and the patriarchy at home or workplace stand in the way of her goals, is winning her battle.
“Life is a whole box of crayons. We have to use all the colours we see and fill it up with happiness,” says Ritu Dua, an artist.
Like Ritu, there are so many women who have painted their own canvas of success. All you have to do is look around.
I met some 100-odd women from all walks of life in Navi Mumbai at an event to hear them talk about their journeys, success stories, and the many challenges they have had to overcome to get to where they are today.
Everyone's story had one common message - you have to work for it/there are challenges everywhere, but we need to overcome them.
Today, a little girl is being taught that she can run an office, a state, and a country - because it’s possible. Women are learning every day that they can jump down the rabbit hole and return to make their own choices. They can climb up the proverbial ladder to professional success or even choose to dedicate their valuable time to running and maintaining a household.
"Every day is our day. Everyone else is working towards making us feel important. Look at me, I am a businesswoman who accidentally got into politics, and now here I am, as the first lady chairperson of the Standing Committee. Dreams do come true,” shared Netra Shirke, Director at Aashish Cabinet and NMMC Corporator. She has become the first woman to hold the position of ‘Chairman’ of the Standing Committee.
The challenges women face are not hidden, any women can list them out for you. From patriarchy and sexism, to the lack of equal pay and equal rights, to the lack of basic facilities like hygiene, safety, and most importantly, the lack of freedom when it comes to making their own choices.
From basic requirements like a sanitary napkins to toilets, be it in the slums or schools, girls and women are deprived this and much more.
“Eighty percent of rural women do not use sanitary napkins because they can’t afford it,” shares Kalyani Joshi, who works with Saral Design, a Mumbai-based startup aiming to tackle the problems of menstruation, sanitation, and hygiene. We are mostly all engineers on the team, and we decided to create a solution to their problems, so they can take better care of their hygiene,” said Kalyani.
“It is by connecting and supporting one another that we move forward today,” said Suhasini Mehta, Founder and Managing Director of Stellant Communications, who organised the event, Pleadies.
Listening to each of the women talk about their journeys, I realised that each of them, irrespective of who they are and where they come from, have had to battle stereotypes and fight for their professional rights in male-dominated industries to emerge as the leaders they are today. Though intimidating, to me, it is also incredibly inspirational.
Each woman is a beacon of hope for women elsewhere. That is an important thought. Don’t shirk from it. What you do today or tomorrow or in the future impacts not just you but others around you. You never know who you may inspire as you conquer your own challenges.