8th March, It is her day. She is the beautiful damsel. She is the pretty, shy, coy girl-next-door. She is the corporate lady with a subdued smile. She is the one who wears a cloak of exclusivity. She is the perpetual chatterbox. She is the one who brims with innocence. She is the one with a flawless profile but without an iota of oomph. She is silent but resilient enough to break all stereotypes which restrain females.
You must have recognized her by now. She is your batch mate, your class mate, your team mate or may be your friend. Maybe, you might not have noticed her till now. Reason: She might not like the limelight of admiration or she does not mind being relegated to the sidelines. If you haven’t noticed the aura of her persona, today is the day to do so - the International Women’s Day.
She has stood by her decision to fulfill her ambition. But, believe me, life is not a cakewalk. Defining ambition and progress may be an easy task but the journey to achieve them is not like a fairytale. Innumerable women just like her are not able to fulfill their own expectations because they are held back by many institutional impediments: sexism, discrimination and lack of flexibility. More than these reasons the widely prevalent stereotypes in society instill in them a stigma of not being competent enough. Women’s voices are till date not equally heard in taking decisions which affect most of our lives. Although most of the women outsmart men in classrooms, when it comes to boardrooms only 4% of Fortune 500 companies have female CEOs.
Similar concerns were raised in the summit of 60 aspiring women Leaders from top 30 B Schools across India at “HCL Meets Emerging Women Leaders” .It was a platform for interaction with eminent woman leaders from the industry like Ms Indira Parikh, Ms Ester Martinez, Ms Madhavi Issar as well as global leaders like Mr. Naveen Narayanan , Mr. Krishnan Chatterjee, Mr. Abhishek Shankar and other distinguished ideapreneurs. The necessity for Indian women to rediscover, not reinvent, herself was stressed upon. Women need to shun the insecurities and fears and overcome their self-doubt. A belief was instilled in each of the 60 aspiring leaders that the whole world will stand with you, if you believe in yourself.
Presently, there is a wave of change. In spite of lesser number of women in leadership roles, there has been a 25% surge in the number of female billionaires in the Forbes’ annual list of billionaires.
The International Women’s Day aims to inspire the change. So, the onus lies on you to spot that serene, svelte lady who has dared to dream for the heights of corporate ladder. She may not like your interference but comfort her, help her cut through layers of ambiguity and bias, mentor her insightfully. Talk to her, debate with her, learn from her, teach her even and evolve together.
“You are the hope for a more equal world. The world wants you to change it.”
Disclaimer: I am not a feminist but a believer of egalitarianism.
This article is written by Anuradha Srivastava of PGP 2013-15. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org