Some thoughts on International Women’s Day

women's day

Happy Women’s Day!

As I think about it, I had a few thoughts: First thing that hits me is why do we as women need a day to celebrate? So companies and spas can offer women’s day specials? My cynical side questions if we are equal, why do we need a day to make us feel special?

But of course, a more balanced me reminds me that we are a long way from being equal- women around the world face the challenges of security and fundamental human rights, and maybe a day like women’s day should be the time when we re-assess what is going on, and what we could do to help.

I have written before about women’s safety in India and my personal story (Women Safety in India- My Story). The recent furore over the documentary India’s daughter reflects the issue with attitude towards women’s safety. Indian government has banned the documentary for being slanderous against India- but aren’t blasphemous views by the rapists and lawyers a reflection of the views held by a section of the population. In my view, this is an essential viewing, for all sections of population from school on-wards. You cannot change a mindset unless you first show the brutally honest reality that exists. Until every village and city views girls and boys as equal, boys are taught to treat women with respect, and women’s safety is a focus for everyone- things won’t change. This isn’t just an India problem- many countries in Asia and Africa have challenges in ensuring women have rights to education, safety, their bodies. And this is what we need to focus on.

The other thing I often wonder about is the corporate world: are programs to promote women in corporations helping us or hurting us? In my mind, sometimes these reservations and policies to promote women hurt us more than help- somehow your growth or success is doubted or questioned because you got the special program.Programs to help women manage work/ home, options to be virtual, etc would give women the opportunity to stay in the corporate world, and they will grow in the company on their own merit. As an independent woman, don’t give me any handouts or concessions- I want to go ahead on my own merit.  In an article, New York Times noted that the number of working mothers has been dropping in the US, and is lower than other developed countries (Link)- the main reason they found is the 8 week maternity leave is too short and there aren’t family friendly policies.

There is a lot of debate on the “having it all” idea- I wrote about this in an earlier post: (My musings on the article: Why Women Still Can’t Have It All). I think women leaders have an opportunity to lead the dialogue and direct it to a more inclusive direction- inclusive because maybe you managed your work and home without flexible hours, but you cannot take that option away from someone who can’t (I am looking at you, Marissa Meyer). Women need to support each other- backing our individual paths to ensure that we can carve our own paths. And there is hope: Katherine Zaleski, president of PowerToFly recently discussed with Fortune how she used to judge other working women until she had a child of her own. She co-founded a startup which matched women with technical skills with jobs that they could do from home. (Link). Stories like this give me hope of a more inclusive women workforce.

So as I end this note, I hope that by next women’s day we move to a world that is a better place for women!

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4 comments on “Some thoughts on International Women’s Day

  1. very well written Rohini. I am with you on the “special treatment” – handouts are demeaning. What we need, as you said, are firm-level policies that are supportive and accommodating to women and our specific issues, not because we need help, but because the firm needs us!

    • Thanks! 🙂
      I appreciate the thought about bringing women leaders, but the problem is it almost seems like the promotions are not on merit, but to fulfil a quota. It almost sets them up to a disadvantage, as the merit is ignored but the quota is remembered.

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