Movies made by WOMEN for WOMEN

Article by: Sumona Chetia, Executive Content Development

Following the death of George Floyd, a black man at the hands of a white policeman in The United States, massive protests against institutional racism rose to attention. The impact was such that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced to introduce new initiatives to address diversity and inclusion objectives within the film making industry. The proposed new rules constructed to offer more importance and recognition to people of colors and, women are all set to open up a new chapter of education and endorsement of all strands of diversity and inclusion in Hollywood and the Global Film Industry.

With this shining ray of hope, let’s take a look at these awesome five movies by and about women. No spoilers ahead, for sure!

  • Mulan- Niki Caro

Acclaimed filmmaker Niki Caro brought Mulan (the epic tale of a brave heart Chinese female warrior Hua Mulan) to life on the big screen. This Disney production is the projection of a righteous, fearless, and empowered Chinese maiden taking herself to the forefront of a battlefield to save her father.

A must watch for your young daughters.

  • Lady Bird- Greta Gerwig

A coming of age drama for teenage daughters and their mothers directed by the fantastic Greta Gerwig is a delight to watch. Lady Bird is a story of anguish and love surrounding the delicate relationship between a rebellious teenager and a passionate mother.

Greta Gerwig’s second solo directorial venture, “Little Women” adapted from the classic novel of the same name, is another name to include in this list.

  • Chhapaak- Meghna Gulzar

Chhapaak is the sound of stamping your feet on a muddy water puddle but, in this Bollywood movie, it refers to the sound of acid splashed across someone’s face. Inspired by the true events in acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal’s life, Chhapaak by Meghna Gulzar is a recreation with a few embellishments, but leaves room for facts face up-front.

  • Misbehaviour- Phillipa Lowthorpe

In 1970, the grand stage that celebrated beauty witnessed the crowning of the world’s first black Miss World moments after being invaded by Women Liberation protestors. The feminist protestors took the stage by storm to bring in a wave of change. Now the story of that night is being retold by Phillipa Lowthorpe in Misbehaviour, inspired by the memoir of Jennifer Hosten, who won the beauty pageant and made history.

  • Panga- Ashwini Iyer Tiwari

Panga is a Bollywood sports drama by Ashwini Iyer Tiwari. It follows the story of a former Kabaddi player and, now a working woman trying to make a comeback to the Kabaddi ground with the support of her husband and her son. Male allies in gender advocacy, indeed!

This list falls short in many ways. You are welcome to jot down a few more movies made by women and not necessarily for women in the comments section. But the actual problem lies in the question, “Why aren’t there more women film directors?” To find answers, wait for the next week’s blog article.


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.


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.


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!


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.


The double whammy every working woman faces

 

 

 

Article By Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Principal Research Consultant – AVTAR Group

A few months ago, a comic visual that nailed the challenges faced by a working woman climbing the corporate ladder made waves in the Internet world. The image was shared on Twitter by Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Indian business conglomerate Mahindra Group. He mentioned on his self-realization moment while baby-sitting his one-year old grandson at home.

Read More » “The double whammy every working woman faces”


India Inc can fight patriarchy with gender-inclusive policies

Padma, who sells delicious kozhukattais (a sweet dish) out of a small roadside eatery at a busy corner of T Nagar (Chennai), was having a raging argument with her 26-year-old daughter. Read More » “India Inc can fight patriarchy with gender-inclusive policies”


Gender Diversity – How to include Men in the conversation?

 

Image courtesy – Pixabay.

Article by: Karthik Ekambaram, Vice President, Diversity and Inclusion Consulting, AVTAR Group.

“Increasing women’s participation in workplace is not a gender issue. But it’s a human issue. Or, rather it’s a business case.” 

That Gender Diversity is a business issue and that companies today strive for a balanced and inclusive workplace are well established facts in corporate. So why is that mounting evidences pointing towards economic advantages with gender equity still not making the requisite mark in the industry leaving the gender balance issue still sparse and scattered? Read More » “Gender Diversity – How to include Men in the conversation?”


Teaching Inclusion To Our Children (Story-telling)

Image Credit : Freepik

Article By  Shruti M – Presales Consultant, Team AVTAR

Children should be taught inclusion at a young age and why diversity has to be accepted. Lessons on friendship, kindness, acceptance, adjustment should be instilled in them early on so that they can learn to build positive relationships. Children experience diversity in different forms in their daily life which will teach them to get along with everyone – making their world a happy and friendly place. The message of friendship and understanding is essential for relationships to flourish in a congenial environment. Read More » “Teaching Inclusion To Our Children (Story-telling)”


What’s In Your Tiffin Box ?

Image Credit : Canva

Article By  Shruti M – Presales Consultant, Team AVTAR

Food goes beyond language and religion connecting everyone across offices, homes, schools, eateries, trains, buses globally. Looking anxiously at the clock repeatedly waiting for lunch time is one of those everyday habits which we look forward to with much enthusiasm. Read More » “What’s In Your Tiffin Box ?”