#VoicesofWomen: Empower yourself, only YOU can do that, writes Rashmi Pandit, in her winning entry at VOW. Read On!
ODYSSEY OF EMPOWERMENT
The newborn’s wails pierce the walls of the operation theatre, and the obstetrician proclaims, “It’s a girl, born 4:53 a.m.” And with that begins the glorious scripting of a woman’s saga. So, does the proverbial cutting of the umbilical cord set her free at birth — to be whatever she aspires to be, do whatever she wants to do? Or does it shackle her to a lifetime of prejudice and handicap? I am afraid, the jury is still out on this one!
Hailing from progressive Kerala, and born to educated parents, as I metamorphosed from infant to adolescent, not once did my feminine gender or habitat scream disadvantage or inequality. So much so that once when someone asked my father, “Why would you admit your girl to such an expensive school? After all, you don’t need a fancy education to marry her off!”, he shot back at them, bemusement writ large on his face, “Why would you admit your boy to such an expensive school? After all, you would have to marry your boy off too, wouldn’t you?”
You might chuckle at this anecdote, and even marvel at how my father could pull such a clever repartee out of his hat with such agility. But beware, in dismissing this as a mere anecdote, you are missing the tree for the twig. You miss the undisguised theme oozing out of my narrative — that from the day I abandoned the security of my mother’s womb to start exploring this world, which, decades later I discovered, was a gender-dysfunctional world, my parents were busy, building for me an ecosystem that would give me the nourishment, confidence and skills I’d need all my life to valiantly spread my wings, tango with the clouds, and soar the skies! So, what’s the point, you might ask — well, it’s simple, it’s not just charity that begins at home, woman empowerment also begins at home. You might recall the famous Rabindranath Tagore quote,
“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high….”.
If all women were born into families where they could live this Tagore quote, with no limits, uncertainty, or compunction at being women, they wouldn’t have to look outside for empowerment. And by empowerment, I mean not just the freedom to take small decisions in one’s mundane everyday life, but also the prerogative to embrace any career one desires, and in the chosen career, to go as far and as high as anyone possibly can.
Empowerment also means having the liberty to choose whether to marry, whether to have children, or it could be, simply having a choice….
True empowerment is being able to live and love life without being hindered by the fetters of biases, scrutiny and judgement. And this journey HAS to begin at home.
These days, the workplace is akin to a second home, consuming as it does, the most part of our waking hours. So, empowerment has to continue at the workplace too. Does that translate to bespoke skilling for women, so they can grow in their career? I think not; at least I wouldn’t go as far as uniting gender and career growth in holy matrimony. Career advancement, gender notwithstanding, comes the way of those who continually acquire knowledge, up their ante to stay on top of developments in their field, and constantly upskill. And who better than me, a compliance professional, to testify to this? Had I not kept abreast of the ever-changing regulatory landscape, premature career menopause would have set in, and believe you me, there’s only so much that I can blame on my gender!
Then there’s the thing about spouses, in-laws and babies, you might argue. Even with an egalitarian ecosystem in their marital home, don’t marriage and kids add an unwelcome layer of complexity to a woman’s career?
Hate it or love it, even at the height of their career aspirations, don’t most married women feel obligated to place their familial responsibilities above their career milestones?
It may appear so, unless you, like me, believe, that if you’ve had the privilege of getting the education you did, and have a career that you love, you surely have it in you to set the boundaries at home. So, all ye ladies out there, who think that but for the trammels of domesticity, your career would have gone places, I beg to differ. If you are expending your energies fighting your mother-in-law, bickering with your spouse, and venting your frustration at lunchtime with colleagues, STOP.
Divert your energies to upgrading your qualifications, upskilling, and transforming the way you work.
And before long, you’ll find your manager sitting up and taking notice of your work like never before. And with your career and money on the upswing, you can hire all the help you need at home, freeing yourself of domestic drudgery. Can’t you see what a win-win this is for all? Happy home, happy office, great work-life balance, but most importantly, happy and empowered YOU!
So sistren, my mantra is EMPOWER!
Empower yourself, only YOU can do that, and it’s never too late to start, for empowerment is not prone to synaptic pruning!
In the words of the famous American actress and comedian, Roseanne Barr, “The thing women have yet to learn is, nobody gives you power. You just take it.” So, embark on your odyssey of empowerment NOW. And whilst you are at it, also empower the men around you. Empower them to challenge norms, to change behaviors, and to break the bias. And voila! You have the ecosystem you need, to learn, grow and ace in your career and life.
Author: Rashmi Pandit is currently working as the Head Of Compliance at Morningstar Investment Adviser India Private Limited. She is one of the Popular Choice Award Winners of VOW(Voices-of-Women), an annual women focused blogging contest presented by We-Ace, powered by IBM