Corona or Dalgona?

Article by: Athira Premarajan- Research and Content Development Associate

You know how it works. Fresh today and gone tomorrow. That’s the pace of social media trends. There was a time when a ‘winking beauty’ from Kerala, took over the social space of the entire world. Though it stayed for a little longer than anticipated, it was long forgotten the very next week! Now trending are the frothy Dalgonas. This will forfeit too. So will the Corona.

Rising to the challenge is not new to any human being. We have learned to survive the odds even during the hardest of times. Journeying through the most unprecedented times of the century, we are slowly regaining our world step-by-step. In this process, the role of technology in leading us is huge. It has opened the window of possibilities and opportunities – Learning from home, cooking from home, celebrating from home, invoking from home, working from home, et. al. Among this, the popularity, reach and requirement of ‘remote working’ or ‘work from home’ concept tops the list.

Though it was already in the scene, remote working had not gained limelight until recently. The social stigma that sustained with remote working was long gone within a couple of days since the outbreak. Although, it is sad that a pandemic had to teach us the vast possibilities of the different tools and products made by humankind. Anyway, better late than never! This opportunity has proved the world – both employers and employees, the availability of alternatives. This has made a huge impact in the lives of millions of women – who are trying for a job with flexibility, who has requested for flexible working hours, and for those of who wants to balance familial duties and earn, working from home. Now, just to list out the benefits, how has this window of opportunity given the women workforce a breath of fresh air? Let’s find out!

Time for Dalgonas (*wink*):

Working moms often are seen working tirelessly towards bridging the gap between her kids and her motherly duties. This unexpected vacation has given her round-the-clock chance to bond with her kids, dishing out their favourite snacks and of course, the trending Dalgonas!

Update and Upgrade:

Skill building is an essential aspect of any business. In lieu of the time spent on travelling, working moms can now focus on upgrading skills and knowledge from the vast ocean of courses, webinars and workshops available online.

Multi-tasking and Crisis management at its peak:

Going through sibling crisis is a more complicated task than even the pandemic, a mother would agree. Not saying this would give her a certification but, surely does this innate talent helps in her everyday tasks, especially in her work. Prioritising also falls under this.

Better Control of Finances:

With online services shut, travel expenses hitting zero, and complete home under control, financial matters have never been so much easier. The cognitive capability of women takes a new spin every time while planning the week, accurately listing the requirements, which again benefits them in their work to better plan and process.

In the Comfort of Home:

Productivity is never better when you work from home. Believe it or not, it is proven as well as approved! Nothing better than the comfort of one’s home to concentrate and get creative.

Women are the masters of handling situations. Be it at home or away. In the era where we are proceeding with our baby steps to incorporate AI in every field, our world is not far away in reaching the sci-fi imaginations. Women, nevertheless, we can all agree, are beyond imaginations – their strength, capability, discipline and perseverance, most of which are her innate qualities.

Though the scenarios may differ than what is mentioned above, with the lack of domestic aid and online food services, we sure can find time for doing our favorite hobbies or learning new things. Understand that no one has their day planned accurately. Pull out one hour from those lazy evenings or preferably weekends, to rejoice and explore what you loved doing or what you always wanted to do. Look at the brighter side and make use of this unexpected vacation to procure expected and productive outcomes.


Working Women – The New Investment Gurus

Article by: Dr. Divya Kumar, Associate Manager- Research, Avtar

It was a pleasant afternoon. Our team had gathered at the lunch table and were enjoying passing our delicious lunch boxes to each other. Neha, one of our teammate joined us a little late. I checked with her, whether all was fine. Neha replied with a big smile “Yes, I had been to the bank to close my fixed deposit as it dated for maturity and also wanted to check for other recent investment plans.” Wow! we working women have come a long way.

Women are always great with money. We really know how to save every penny. But it is important to know that SAVINGS is not equal INVESTMENT. They are different. Saving is setting aside a sum of money from our income, for future, predominantly for any unforeseen contingencies. Whereas, an investment is an asset or item accrued to generate income either for short or a long term.

Till a few years back, women relied on their fathers or their spouses to go about their investments or financial plans. Times have changed. Now, there is increased access to obtain knowledge about financial planning and advises from experts through the web world, social media and awareness sessions at offices. The digital wave has ensured every working woman her financial independence and surged confidence in her investments. Working women tend to take career breaks for motherhood or elder care at least once. It is critical being at ease with financial investment by choosing the correct investment tool. So here are some investment tools, listed. The listing is a blend of traditional and more dynamic avenues methods of investments for you to consider:

  • Public Provident Fund is one of the most popular investment plans in India and has tax benefits.
  • Employees’ Provident Fund is considered as one of the best investment options for working women as it allows tax benefits and gathers tax-free savings.
  • Life & Health Insurance cover provides much needed financial security for you and your family. Remember, as your income increases you should increase the insurance cover.
  • Government schemes Kisan Vikas Patra is one of the best short term investment plan as the maturity value doubles the principal amount. Sukanya Samridhi Yojna was launched specifically for the welfare of the girl child.
  • National Savings Certificate is considered as one of the safest investment schemes that can be availed at the post offices.
  • Post-Office Time Deposit/Monthly Income Scheme is considered to be eligible for child investment plans, where a single mother can invest a certain amount for her child’s education and healthcare.
  • Bank Fixed Deposits is another good investment cum savings options that can be availed in both public and private sector banks.
  • Mutual funds are a unique investment pooling entity which enables investors to invest in a wide range of securities in a single platform.
  • Systematic Investment Plan (SIP) is a facility offered by mutual funds to the investors to invest in a disciplined manner.
  • Gold is contemplated as a good investment in Indian society. It is important to note that only invest in gold coins and bond from RBI authorized dealers and banks can be exchanged for higher whenever needed. Purchase of gold jewelry cannot be considered as an investment.

So how can you start your financial planning?

It begins with your annual and monthly aligned budgetary allocations. It is important that your family needs to be alerted periodically keeping in mind future expenses – buying a house or accumulating capital for a business idea that you always dreamed etc.

Next, reduce impulsive spending. Shopping and entertainment are the two biggest impulsive spends. This is largely influenced by pester power (the ability of a child to pressurize its parents to buy a product/item, largely influenced by the advertisement in the media).

Eventually, in due course of time, you will be enabled to channelise your hard-earned money to fulfil your financial goals.

Because  –  “WHAT IS MEASURED GETS MANAGED”!


Do Women Have What It Takes to Be Great Leaders?

Article by: Shobhika Ramanathan, Associate Research Analyst

The topic itself gives us a suspicious question as women are already multi-taskers. But why is there a persisting doubt against them as great leaders? There are many instances where women prove that they have all the qualities to hold the position of leaders.

According to the research done by Harvard Business Review in 2012, with a database of 360-degree reviews, women scored as equal as men in handling leadership positions. The surprising fact is, when the same research was held in 2019, women in senior leadership roles remained relatively steady as same as when the original research (2012) was done. This is one of many such examples.

Gender shouldn’t be a factor determining a person’s leadership qualities – a person’s leadership abilities depend on their strengths and personality traits. Women see leadership roles from a different perspective. One research states that 65% of women describe a leader as one who shares their knowledge to uplift his/her team to reach success. When this attitude of women is put in managerial roles, it can make them stronger and effective leaders.

Let us take a look at why women should be given the throne:

  1. No “Nos” To Multi-Tasking 

Women are used to multi-tasking since their young age. Managing many works at the same time is what she had mastered already. Hence, for her, this is a go-go!

2. Patience in Full Battery Level 

This doesn’t conclude that women are always polite. But they know how to handle a situation or an argument without losing temper. Given any situation, she knows how to tackle them.

3. Already A Winner Against the Odds

Yeah, some people would say otherwise, but being a woman, we know how to work against the odds. You know why? Because we have always faced discrimination and restriction – regardless of which, many women have come out and stood up for themselves and succeeded against the odds in flying colors. They have the drive to prove people wrong, who put a barrier in their way and succeed in whichever path they are working in.

4. High Scale On Emotional Intelligence

The ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others and relate is something that accounts for a great leader. Married or not, a woman always possesses this character. With this power, she can handle all kinds of people with clarity in what she wants for her team and herself.

5. Easy Mingle Policy

Normally women don’t stay alone in any situation. Although she is always with her companions, she clearly knows whenever a decision must be taken. And, it will always be in favor of everyone else on the team. This fact helps her more when it comes to an organization. It gains her respect for being the kind-hearted individual she is and will for sure cheer her to go on.

The above-stated points are only the match’s highlights. The real match is yet to begin. There are for sure many other qualities of women that suits up to the mark, to fit in as a leader in the corporate world. So, come on let us try to understand those boons and reserve her a seat!


How to beat the cultural definition of gender-based roles?

Article by: Athira Premarajan, Research and Content Development Associate

Janaki waited anxiously to hear about her culinary expertise at her new home. She was so proud of herself applying all that her mother had taught her since the day she stopped going to school as she was told it was time for her to learn domestic chores. Leaving her colourful textbooks behind, which mostly had untouched leaves of Ruskin Bond and R K Narayan, she happily obeyed her mom’s advice. Within a year’s span, Janaki saw herself in the new red saree draped beautifully around her – leaving her home – being welcomed to her new family.

“Janaki,” whispered her mother-in-law, “I am glad you got it right. He always likes his Rotis soft and fluffy”. Unexplored still stayed in the dusty corners of her open wardrobe, Bond and Narayan.

Disclaimer: It isn’t a tale. Also, not a real story. But it is an inspired piece from thousands of lives who are still alive today. There are two aspects we can infer from this: The hefty burden of familial duties a woman is bound to carry and lack of knowledge of education. We sure aren’t in Utopia or the Barbarian era. However, some of the ideologies we keep quite are Utopian or Barbarian. It is really not necessary to state the obvious but, time and again we have been failed by traditions and ideologies, which are outdated. Yes, gender discrimination is an earthed topic, still hot on the plate. However, the measures taken to curb it is always off the plate.

Before traversing globally, let’s take our nation’s state on the same. According to studies, Indian women spend an average of 300 more minutes than men doing household chores. Now, is it because men are not healthy enough or they have less than 24 hours as opposed to women? No. It is the centuries-old practices and lack of sensitization that holds responsibility for this data. Even in the families adopting the best of gender equality practices, chances are that certain unknown biases act up, in turn, making women responsible for house chores and caregiving.

Now, how can this be curbed? Is there a written set of rules and norms? No. Have they conducted studies on it? Yes. But here, especially during the time of the pandemic, we are putting out an easier set of activities that the men allies could adopt in creating a better home for your other half.

  • Fix your Ideologies:

The term hereditary, as a matter of fact, is a term that we own up to proudly – for the caste, race, region or any such category we belong to. These come with a couple of tagalongs – traditions, rituals, ideologies – which has been imprinted in you probably even before you turned four! Out of the several good aspects these tagalongs carry, you have been taught or per se experienced certain illogical set of norms meant to be done by a particular gender. A boy usually runs to the grocery store while the girl does the dishes. This stigma apparently has affected several other of our routines inflicting a sense of gender inequality. Fix it.

  • Sensitize your Peers, Correct your Elders:

You may belong to a set of prominent broad-minded thinking peers. However, when it comes to reality topics like washing one’s own clothes or dishes, these forward thinkers would still be at the mercy of their mother or wife. Or for instance, your mother asks to leave your plate on the table after dinner, offer to clean it by yourselves. In two words: Identify and Rectify.

  • Put that down, ‘he’ will lift it:

Well, we cannot alter the biological form we are born into. It is true that several jobs require people with good physical built and sometimes not. And there are certain roles that cannot be fulfilled by a substitute. However, judging a person’s strength based on gender is unacceptable.

Note: Saleswomen and women working in the service industry also feeds their family.

  • Remove the Social Stigma:

Women, often a victim of this, is usually stamped with duties pertaining to house chores. Surprisingly enough, accrediting to the ascribed talents and acquired knowledge, women themselves find it odd when men help them in the kitchen cooking or doing dishes. Nor will they find it easy to involve in financial decisions. The need of the hour here is a ‘Reset Button’. Do you have it ready?

  • If it is Boy, Engineer, If it is a Girl, Doctor:

Bet you remember this dialogue from the famous movie ‘3 Idiots’. Well, it would be boring to iterate it in any other format. This and several other scenes in this comedy epic captures a load of gender disparity issues. Watch it once and think about it. And, prevent it from happening with you.

Good luck and be the driver of change!


Choices women shouldn’t have to make

Unprecedented times. Unplanned for reality. These are some of the descriptors that may be used to define the state of countries, societies, organisations, families and individuals, today. As individuals, micro-constituents of entities that are strategizing to beat the challenge, how about taking the crisis by it horns, embarking on an introspective spiral and contributing to better ways of living?

This is what we at Avtar Women did and we now have this list of Top five choices women (half of the sky!) shouldn’t have to make:

1. To choose between family and a career

This is a global phenomenon. Women’s workforce participation rate is substantially lesser than men’s across geographies, across societies. The male breadwinner, female care-taker family model results in many women (pursuing careers) taking a break at critical junctures involving care-giving – motherhood or elder care. While this may be a choice many women consciously make, in many cases, the decision is not entirely the woman’s. If organizations are to be cognizant of career enabling needs of women and families more supportive of a woman’s career aspirations, this will be a choice any women will not have to make.

2. To choose educational courses perceived to be lighter and easier to pursue a career on

This is unfortunately a choice that millions of women/girls have had to make. Encouraging girls to take up courses that will lead them on to ‘manageable’ careers (that will ensure quality work-life integration) is common place. Why do you have to pursue an MBA or an engineering is a question many girls get asked. This is a choice; we wish women do not have to make. Ultimately, what one becomes is what one dreams, what one is encouraged to dream! 

3. To take a pay cut as they make successful career comebacks

Gender wage gap is prevalent, across organizations, across sectors. While discerning organizations are working towards ensuring gender wage parity, this becomes more pronounced when women make career comebacks. A 2019 research by Avtar revealed that 69% of women on career breaks in India, anticipate a pay cut when they make a career return. If organizations are to critically look at the talent potential of this talent pool and women on their part proactively plan come-backs (undertake up-skilling interventions and negotiate with potential employers), this choice could be nullified. 

4. To take ownership of three Cs, even as young girls

This is how gendered roles are driven when children are boxed to activities at a very young age. When little girls are told that they have to warm up to the 3 Cs – Cooking, Cleaning and Caring pretty early (because that would benefit them in the future), the choice is many a times sealed. This perpetuates gender stereotypes and the gender skew in care-giving continues. This is definitely a choice young girls shouldn’t have to make.

5.  To be silent victims/spectators of body shaming

Multiple researches have shown that women/girls are more likely to be body shamed than men/boys. Often women choose to not react to seemingly frivolous comments on their appearance and body language, to not ruffle feathers. This leads to power equations in gender thrive, in extreme cases leading to emotional and physical abuse. If women/girls do not really have to make the choice of being a silent bearer, we as a society could go a long way in reducing the rate of crimes against women and children.

So these are our thoughts! What are yours? Add on to the comments below.