I recently met a group of women entrepreneurs in Nizamabad. They come from humble backgrounds, doing all the work traditionally expected of women in their homes, but each of them also runs a small business. They have no real help from their families, nor can they afford the convenience of modern appliances. It is a hard life, and it would be easy to succumb to the drudgery of making ends meet. But what I saw was just the opposite. Their enthusiasm, passion and drive to run their businesses just blew me away. And it’s the same in other small towns I have visited over the last few months.
Their circumstances don’t get in the way of their dreams to make their businesses bigger. Most women I’ve met feel they cannot fail if they have set out to do something on their own. They try to make sure their family responsibilities are not affected but that doesn’t stop them from giving just as much to their own ventures and jobs, no matter how big or small those may be. And yet, there is a sense of guilt I have noticed in most women, including myself, “Am I doing enough for my family? Am I doing enough at my workplace? Am I doing the best I can do for both?”
Here, I would tell women – as I tell myself every single day – that it is okay to be flawed, it is okay to make mistakes, to falter. It’s a thought that women need to internalise first and foremost. Don’t stress because you are being held to somebody else’s world view of what is right and wrong for women to do. Your work speaks for itself.
It’s like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said recently: “Don’t talk to me about being a woman, judge me for the work I do.”
I relate to this 100 percent. It doesn’t matter if you’re a working professional, or a homemaker, or anything you have chosen to be. It’s what you do that counts. How well you do it, how passionate you are about it, how much more you want to achieve, and what you’re willing to do to achieve your goals.
We don’t speak up. We should.
We compromise because we don’t want to seem argumentative. I ask you, what is the point of shying away from arguing the merits of a case?
We prioritise tasks that are not personal priorities. We need to stop doing something only because it’s what expected of us.
We take on too much because we don’t want to seem lacking in ability. There’s nothing wrong in asking for assistance you need resources to get something done.
We don’t persist because we don’t want to seem pushy. Why? You’re simply trying to get the job done. Push as much as you need to.
We don’t voice our ambitions. Action is the difference between dreams and reality. If nobody knows what you want, how can they help you achieve it?
I could go on. But I’ll stop here for now. Because I’d like each of us to think about these aspects.
We all want a more supportive, more understanding environment, and nicer people to help us achieve our goals. But first, let’s learn to love and appreciate ourselves and accept that we deserve what we want, what we have dreamed of.
I don’t usually quote Walt Disney, but it seems just right here: "All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them."