Empowering Women Starts Young and with You

Article by: Sumona Chetia, Executive Content Development

I vaguely recall myself as an eight-year-old practicing a group dance choreographed by our English Ma’am. This dance wasn’t any typical group dance. A twist accompanied it. We were supposed to sing on our own and match our steps to the song. And the song was penned down by our Ma’am. The 8 of us who were part of this extravaganza for our annual parent’s day celebration weren’t much happy about it. The prime reason being it wasn’t a song of our choice. The first stanza of the song went something like this, “Hum hain nariyan…jalti chingariya. Desh ko karenge roshan…”(Hindi lyrics).

Our tiny brains couldn’t grasp a word of what we were singing or dancing to, but our Ma’am focused on making us look brave and smart as we sang at the top of our lungs. On the day of the event, we were excited because we were allowed to wear our pretty ghagras (back then, Bollywood had a huge impact on us). But what followed left us embarrassed. Ma’am had put chart paper cut-outs of a shield on our blouses. And we had to carry similar cut out of swords as we perform onstage. I was hoping for a miracle to save me from this possible prospect of being the fun talk of the school. And so it happened. I secured the second position for showing academic excellence in that year. As I was a sub-junior, a teacher instructed me to queue up with the other winners so that I don’t get lost during the prize distribution ceremony. That means I didn’t have to perform that funny group dance. My English Ma’am looked dejected, but she had to let me go. And off I went happily to stand with my peers and laugh at my friends doing the silly dance.

Years later, I understood the meaning of that song. The lyrics translated to the feelings of a brave woman wanting to make her country proud. Women Empowerment, in particular. And those paper shields and swords was to visualize the warrior in us. I let out a deep sigh of despair. Did Ma’am not explain the context of the song to us? Or I didn’t pay attention? Whatever that was, one thing was for sure that our English Ma’am wanted to instill the impression of a smart and independent woman from our early school days. Such a humble yet, powerful attempt!

Do you have a daughter? A young sister? Or any girl child within your family? If so, then now is the time to reap the seed of “You are a wonder woman!” in their hearts and minds. As they say, change begins within the home.

Let’s look at a few feasible ways on how to empower a girl at an early age and transform her into an empowered woman for the future-

1) Boost her self-esteem

It works like a charm! Be it her first dance recital or her first work of art. Every little creative work that she does appreciate it for the way it is. Make her value her worth. Build her confidence.

2) Celebrate her self-expression

Let her dress the way she wants. She may prefer princess outfits or opt for something like jeans and tee teamed up with a pair of sneakers. Don’t force on her the ideology of how a girl should dress up.

3) Shun the negativity

The truth about body shaming and beauty standards should be laid out for her to differentiate between the right and the wrong. Teach her to combat negativity by introducing her to the healthy notions of body positivity, race, colour, and creed.

4) Lead by example

Show her how you treat your female colleagues, relatives, friends, or acquaintances. Be the role model that she deserves at the early stage of her life.

5) Incorporate gender education

To empower young girls, make gender education compulsory. Guide them in understanding the basics of gender equality and disparity. Refrain them from the evil social prejudices.

6) Enhance their communication skills

Let young girls voice their opinions on every little thing that matters. Offer them the chance to recognize and develop leadership qualities. Over time as parents and guardians, you can mould a girl’s unique abilities and transform her into a respectable and responsible citizen of society.

7) Provide education

Last but definitely not the least, provide girls with education. That’s the most basic but also the most important. Let them pursue their studies to the extent of their capabilities. No one has ever regretted by presenting a girl the gift of education.

As a child, I lost my chance to understand the power of women taught by my wonderful English Ma’am (forever guilty but more than that grateful for her visionary approach), but I was lucky enough to be surrounded by learned parents, supportive elders, and inspiring role models who showed me the right way to empowering myself. You can do it too for the girls around you. Lead a good way and they will follow you.


Investing in women for a better world

Article by: Manasa Sai, Senior Consultant

The word ‘investment’ brings in an image of money in my mind. However, when I think about it from a working women’s perspective: investment means money, the faith that people have on me, and the kind of responsibilities that I am given in an organization to work with.

I remember my first salary negotiation as a college graduate. The company offered a ball park of my monthly income and I used all my cards to negotiate for a better pay. Finally, the interviewer using a soft tone told me that “look men use money to take care of their families whereas women use it for shopping!”. So I decided to share a beautiful story of how I spend my money.

I generate active income by working for an amazing company named “AVTAR – The Power of Diversity”. As soon as I get notified about the pay remittance in my mobile I mentally calculate how much I should invest in my LIC policies, my brother’s education, our family’s healthcare insurances, and the last minute household purchases. Though my brother tells me that his certification is not important, I tell him that investing in self-development will never go a waste. I then sit down to re-check if I can spare some money to spend on my sketch book and the acrylic paints because the artist in me wants to revamp her painting skills. Wow! I didn’t know that I would become this person one day. To conclude, investing in women is like investing to uplift an entire family. If we handover money to a woman she will immediately start thinking about: keeping her family fed for as long as she can, to educate her siblings/children, to allocate money to support every family member’s personal goals, to pay all the internal and external bills, and to cover expenses that you never anticipated. Despite all that mentioned she will also save some money for the next month’s expenses just in case something goes wrong (this is where overthinking helps us :)).

It is a wonderful idea to invest in women in terms of giving us bigger responsibilities as well because women feel guilty of not being able to complete the given responsibilities on time. If someone tells us that they ‘believe in us’, until we get the acknowledgement that the task is successfully completed we will never be able to sleep peacefully. My dear readers let us break our biases and invest in women for a better world.

AVTAR offers “B-Divine Unconscious Bias” workshop for Organizations, so do enroll and become aware of your biases.


FIVE RITUALS THAT WOULD BE USEFUL FOR WOMEN POST COVID-19

Article by: Shobhika Ramanathan, Associate Research Analyst

There is a powerful saying by Eleanor Roosevelt which reads as, “A woman is like a tea bag – you can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water”. The situation in which we are living now is exactly the HOT WATER phase for all and especially for women. It is for her to decide that whether she is going to come out as a cup of refreshing hot tea or just remain soaked.

Women are said to be stronger than men generally because of owning the ability to come out of any situation sooner. But without action words are just ‘words’. The current situation is just a testing phase for everyone. To come out of this is to leave the ‘fear’ which rests in us. It is left to us that whether we ‘compete’ against them or to ‘submerge’ in them.

Nobody would have even dreamt that the start of a new decade would be a bag of surprises – not a good one though. Due to this pandemic, there has been a terrible drop in the economy with many companies actually opting for recession. Jobs are now accompanied by a bad friend – ‘Insecurity’. All women are ‘Left and Right Handed Batsman when it comes to the game of life’. Wondering why? Compared to men, they are to manage both their life at home and life at work with equal concentration, without which a Home would just be a House. This time is hard for men but even harder for women.

 There is a ‘New Normal’ waiting for us ahead of this pandemic. Life would never be the same like before. There would be many changes in the work environment after this disaster. For men, they can adjust to their routine provided but for women, certain things can be tough. Thus, they must have a new plan for their daily work.

Let us see the new 5 rituals that will suit HER to abide by, after this COVID period subsides.

Home Is the New Office

All around the world, there are many organizations that have started to provide many policies for women i.e. flexible work from home – She can decide the time of work for the day. Already saddled with her office work, household chores, and childcare, she is already powered down. But since this situation is going to prevail for a little longer, this puzzle has to be solved soon. Better Sooner than Later! Gear Up!

Ask For Help

Do not hesitate to ask for help or even do one. Wherever possible, extend help to your family, co-workers, teams, and the community at large. The world knows that you have more burden in your shoulders. You can also share your work if it is too much to handle. Have a word with your manager/boss whenever you feel stuck. When your time is tough, remember there is always another person in your life to share it with.

Exercise to Energise

Dear ladies, it is important to first take care of yourself. Take nutritious food and try to exercise at least half an hour to be in-line with your day. Energise your fellow mates around you. Be Positive, Spread Positivity!

Resilience Is the New Mantra

Being resilient is itself a solution. It is true that no-one on earth predicted or were ready for this pandemic. Attaching to the feel of panic does not make this better. It is through these times that you can discover yourselves to be strong. Get back to your childhood! Remind yourself of your hobbies and do those while you are out of track. Be in contact with your colleagues and chit-chat to get relax you mind. It is OK to feel low… provided you BOUNCE BACK soon!                         

Time Table Should Be On Table

You might have come across this – “Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.” Yes! It is important that you manage your time in the right way. Take a pen now. List all the things in 2 separate lists. Things that you want and things you need to do for the day. Sort them out and figure out a final list with timings mentioned beside it. “Stick to the plan” and start your day. It is not the time which decides your start of the day, it is you who should decide it. Anytime can be your start point. So if you are not on track now, pick up your Time Table and get set for your day!

Do not worry about the situation that you are facing now. Do your job right and every other thing will fall in its place. Another famous quote reads – “The Greatest Job Security Is Performance”. Do remember that. Let us not turn back but look forward to a better future with the help of an optimistic sight!

“She was powerful not because she wasn’t scared but because she went on so strongly, despite the fear.” – Atticus.


Do you remember your inspiration? -An Anecdote

Article by- Athira Premarajan, Research and Content Development Associate

I remember exactly how the writer in me was born. It was one of those lousy afternoon sessions at school. But collectively, we looked forward to Communicative English class. The day was oddly special as we knew the results of the monthly evaluation test was on its way. We were a group of kids who innately had hatred towards the subjects of Maths and Science. At least, I wish to believe it that way. Because it was the time when Engineers and Doctors were even growing on trees (no offence)! So, we eagerly looked forward to these subject papers as accomplishing an 80 was a cakewalk, and also, we loved our teacher.

The distribution of papers was followed by the usual grin on everyone’s face. One could capture a group photo as it was always a ‘picture perfect’ moment. After her usual feedback session and advice, my teacher took my paper and started reading it line by line. It was a scary moment until I realized it was for appreciating my writing. As the subject involved mostly creative writing and the likes, it seems I had nailed it perfectly. So, that was the best moment of my life, which lead me to what I am today.

As my teacher, there will always be one person in each of our lives, who might have inspired us in being what we are today. Probably those people won’t even know it but, that particular afternoon made me believe that I can write. It made me intentional of being something I never thought I’d be. Intentionality basically is a result of self-will and perseverance. There will definitely be an inspiring figure for everyone to become what they are. Mine was my teacher. But, had I left that inspiration halfway at the end of that class, I wouldn’t have realized my talent and satiate my passion to write. Intentionality thus, should come from within and act as the catalyst in achieving our ambitions. My inspiration was my teacher and the catalyst was my will.

Being a millennial, my life comes with various perks and challenges. Opportunities being the perk and competitions being the challenge. I am certain that all of us millennial are more or less on the same path when career intentionality comes in the frame. Although similar, the situation one is in can be paradoxically different. It would not be an easy affair for a mother of two to become career intentional one fine day. But, if you have that spark within you, believe that no one or nothing can ever stop you from becoming what you want to be. I held on to my passion despite being engaged with another job. Wanting to have a career in writing, reading and writing had always been my allies. Besides, my intense will to learn the technicalities also landed me in several online courses. Now, these were my attempts in keeping my passion alive. I know that every one of you out there is a proud owner of your passion. But, how often do you nurture it? How much have you considered to turn it into a career or something more? Excuses can be made by anyone. And had the successful women had time for making excuses, never will they have been tagged under the same. So, sort out some ‘me time’ and start today. Spend an hour for building your skills and get used to the market trends before you enter it. Only willingness, or to technically put it, only intentionality will lead you to what you want to be. So, through these borrowed lines I’d like to say, be your own wind keeper.  Seasons change but, keep your passion alive, updated.