What are the qualities of an empowered woman? And how can women be empowered while maintaining their femininity?
Empowerment means having an ability and freedom to make choices about ones life. It does not mean freedom from discipline or responsibility . An empowered person can deal with a crisis with tough mindedness qualities normally associated with men. Femininity is associated with traits such as empathy, sensitivity, nurturing, caring, developing and collaborating. But each one of us have certain masculine and feminine qualities. These are not mutually exclusive. If empowerment and femininity are nurtured in balanced proportion then an integrated & complete human being will develop.
Can we get rid of deep-rooted patriarchal mindsets?
Yes, but not immediately. For that to happen we have to sensitize men to be convinced about the benefits of gender equality. We have to recognize that men as key players have to be involved to ensure gender parity. By the time boys and girls reach adolescence, attitudes about unequal gender roles are already formed, and large proportions of girls and boys express attitudes justifying the right of a man or boy to control the behaviour of or perpetrate violence against women and girls. Therefore, it is important to help young girls and boys, especially boys, to adopt gender egalitarian values. There is evidence to show that after the appropriate interventions, gender role attitudes became more egalitarian and notions of masculinity became more positive in rural Bihar.
What are the challenges women generally face in their workplace?
On almost every single socioeconomic indicator from infant mortality to life expectancy to enrollment in educational institutions to employment, women continue to face many challenges . They lag behind their male counterparts in general and at every career stage in particular. In corporate boardrooms or in leadership positions, women are grossly underrepresented.
The huge challenge is to topple invisible barriersmindsets widely held by managers or leaders, suggesting women are not equaland their devastating implications for corporate performance, from recruitment to placement and from promotions to succession.
Women also experience challenges while fitting into organizational cultures as most of the organizational cultures are designed by men for men.
Once women start their family they have another challenge- balancing work & family. At this time there is more turnover of women throughout the ranks of the industry the world over.
What strategies does ‘Walk the talk’ offer to create a good ecosystem wherein women feel empowered?
Achieving gender parity is a complex scenario . It can only be achieved if all the stakeholders- employers, governments, NGOs , men & women themselves ”walk the talk” in ensuring equity with effectiveness. To that end, no one agency can be expected to craft all the policies or provide all the benefits that will make a difference to womens lives. All the stakeholders have a shared responsibility to make the environment as enabling as possible. Linkages in five areas, therefore, are essential:
– National governments can act as a catalyst, provide direction, and shape policies to create a holding/enabling environment.
– Business enterprises need to cooperate closely in a competitive industry and invent new practices or models that are not only good for women but also for business
– NGOs need to provide services such as quality childcare, which cannot be provided by the corporate sector.
– Academic institutions need to align education with changing industry needs.
– Women themselves need to rethink their roles and careers and put the new attitudes to work.
Can you share your personal icons of empowered women and what sets them apart?
Ella Bhatt. Ella Bhatt noticed that despite their contribution to any system women remain invisible when it comes to bestowing benefits & facilities to them. To address this lacuna, she founded SEWA (Self Employed Womens Association) to grant them their rights.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Founder of BICON. A pioneer & entrepreneur in an unconventional industry .
In the process, she shattered many stereotypes & established herself as an inspiring role model.
There is a lot of passion which is quite evident while reading your book. Where does it stem from?
Paradoxically from a feeling of compassion and empathy. Feeling with and feeling for others. This strong emotion finds its expression into action for larger good. Cofounding Forum For Women In Public Sector at New Delhi or setting up Handicrafts Training & Production Center for women in rural Assam under the aegis of OIL India are such examples of passion and compassion into action .
About the Interviewee:
Anjali Hazarika is the author of the award-winning book Daring to Dream: Cultivating Corporate Creativity Through Dreamwork published by SAGE (1998). She holds a doctorate in management and two postgraduate degrees in psychology and the social sciences and is actively involved with research-based advocacy on women’s leadership issues at workplaces. Earlier with Oil India Ltd, Anjali Hazarika also served as a Founding Director of an Intercorporate Learning Network of 12 oil and gas companies in India.
Anjali Hazarika is the author of the award-winning book Daring to Dream: Cultivating Corporate Creativity Through Dreamwork published by SAGE (1998). She holds a doctorate in management and two postgraduate degrees in psychology and the social sciences and is actively involved with research-based advocacy on women’s leadership issues at workplaces.
Earlier with Oil India Ltd, Anjali Hazarika also served as a Founding Director of an Intercorporate Learning Network of 12 oil and gas companies in India.