[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Vaidehi Vaidya on accelerating women’s careers in sports via her venture
While Indian players like Mithali Raj and Smriti Mandana have given new life to women’s cricket, the gender inequality gap is still very glaring.
An athlete her entire life, Vaidehi Vaidya was a taekwondo player and played football during her engineering years. “That is primarily because of my mother. When I was growing up I didn't think of it from a professional career point of view,” shares Vaidehi. Soon, she realised that she is not a person who can do a nine-to-five job.
Vaidehi pursued an MBA (Master of Business Administration) in sports from the UK, and her project was on women's football in India, which brought her back to the country.
“It allowed me to travel from metro cities to one of the remotest rural villages in India, in the northeast and southern parts of India. I came across many women who were interested in doing something more than they were doing in sports particularly, but they were facing a lot of issues—from language to taboo against wearing sporting attire. Safety was also an issue,” she recalls.
Shocked to see women’s living conditions, Vaidehi was moved to do something to improve their lives. So, she began on the journey of shaping Women in Sport. She realised there was a lot to do, and the need to work towards bringing complete gender equality and neutrality to the space.
Her venture Women in Sport works toward bringing gender balance to the field of sports.
“There are a lot of women who want to get into sports, but they are unable to figure out how they can do it. They are unable to find the right mentors or right advisors with the right expertise and knowledge. The information is out there, but for some reason, it's hard for them to find these people and reach out to them,” explains Vaidehi, the Founder and Managing Director (MD) of Women in Sport.
Started in 2015, the online forum aims to be a one-stop solution for all the support required by women in sports. The envisions starting on-ground operations as well as facilitating in-person meetings by 2022.
“It is a way of bringing all women under one roof. So, throughout my experience in sports, I have seen women wanting to do something but unfortunately, they're all working in silos. Individually, they are trying to do a lot of stuff, and even men, who are working towards the betterment of women's sports, are also working in silos. I believe that if we combine the force and create a united front, we will be able to solve a lot of problems together,” she explains.
The platform facilitates master classes as well as consultations apart from mobilising connections that women can leverage.
Advising all women she says, “The idea is to take the first step. It looks tough, and it looks hard, but take that first step and the path will form.”
Edited by Kanishk Singh