Sunday, 8 March 2015

Empowering Excellence on Women's Day!

When all the buzz and hype spread across about this ‘Women’s Day’…When all were going around wishing every woman a ‘Happy’ Women’s Day, trying to make them feel special and enjoy “womanhood”; even I thought that I had to do something to make myself feel special on this day; or that is what the norm asks me to. So, when I was contemplating on a way to adhere to this standard, our renowned Institute came out with the idea of a wonderful seminar on ‘International Women’s Day’, exclusively for women members. At first, I was a bit sceptical about it. (Yes. Incidentally, this day falls on our hard-earned Sunday!). But all these doubts faded away as I scrolled down the invitation mail. CPE Credit hours, the valuable gift pack, coupled with the word ‘free’ alerted my senses (Don’t frown. This word alerts the sense of every known, rational and sane Indian. Remember ‘3 Idiots’??) and I jumped to register for it. And the fact that I am not going home this weekend further substantiated and justified my decision to attend it.

But I should say that the day turned out to be a very inspiring and memorable one, to be etched to my memory for a considerably long time. So inspiring that I am forced to write about this before this special day comes to a close.

Though we were informed that the registration would start at 8.30 am; I had not anticipated anyone coming at that hour especially on a lazy Sunday morning. So, I reached there half an hour late. But, I was taken aback to see that the registration was already half way through, given the commendable ‘punctuality’ with which our professional conferences usually commence. The big hall at Hyatt was getting filled up and before it was 9.30 I could turn and see that all the chairs were occupied and many members were standing!  The hall was house-full!

Yes. The house was full with women. With powerful women across all age groups; practising Chartered Accountants, women retired from high positions, newly qualified lot like us, women who had temporarily taken a break from the profession and who were planning to come back, and women who had even come with their little babies, to attend this function organized especially for them. What I could understand from this unbelievably huge audience was the commitment to the profession and the sense of belongingness they have towards the Institute.

Though I wouldn’t want to delve deep into the topics that were being presented on the day, there are a few points that struck me strong.

That there is absolutely no need to ‘empower’ women. Because, they are already empowered. Just that we need to accept this fact.

Yes. Women are indeed conquering greater heights and have already broken the glass ceiling. Numerous examples of women holding positions in toughest of governments, finance sector, banking and what not! Like one of our speakers asked us, ‘Can you please let me know which area is that you women haven’t gotten into?’

Yeah. All that is right. But, the ‘empowerment’ that I could easily relate to, is something more simple. But which I think is no less powerful. It is what I see every day. It is what we all see every day, almost every hour, but never have either the patience or the time or most importantly, the heart to acknowledge it. Acknowledging doesn’t mean saying ‘thank you’ or wishing on a day like this. It means just being a little more understanding. It means just observing the woman in your home effortlessly managing multiple activities with ease, without carrying this title of ‘empowerment’.

And there were also talks (for and against, in a subtle way) about a woman’s capability to multi-task. To be able to prioritise her career or her family in an appropriate manner in which she wants and not to try to be the best in all the roles that she plays.

That is when I was telling my friend amidst these discussions. ‘Arey…They’re talking so big about all these multi- tasking and stuff like that…Aren’t our moms doing the same thing? Managing office and family…Without creating all these hue and cry about the huge task of striking a balance between home and work…Absolutely Yes…Obviously without even asking for the tag of an ‘empowered woman’.

We were shown a video clipping of an interview of Indra Nooyi…She says ‘If you ask my daughter, if I am the best mom, I’m not sure if she would say yes’. She meant that it was absolutely impossible to be the best in all the roles that you play. To be successful in your career, office should come first.

And then we were told about the importance of being focused, having a goal in life, being ambitious, and also not to focus too much on your kids because they’ll anyway grow up and go away…

A bit contradictory discussion was going on amidst all these suggestions among a bunch of women. Yes. I overheard the rest of their conversation during the lunch break.

“ It is all good to say. To set up priorities…When we all qualified before 20 years; the situation was not this”.

“Yes. The youngsters nowadays are very clear about their goals”.

“If one has to advance in her career to this extent, someone else in the family has to take a back seat.”

“All this talks about bringing the women to the forefront would be only for a day. From tomorrow, everything will go back to normal as usual.”

“To balance both home and office is not that easy as they say”.

For me personally, empowerment was not all that was talked about. It was the very fact that these strong women were powerfully discussing about this. The clarity of thought reflected in their voice, their urge to unleash their talent shone in their eyes and most importantly, their maturity to digest what was actually real and practically showed up crystal clear on their faces.  

I do not know about the big career goals or being at the helm of affairs in a huge organization. What I know is a mother who; though not in such a huge position in office, even though very much capable of it (Yes. She sacrificed it for us.); but still in a work environment that we all can perceive to be reasonably ‘busy and tough’, effortlessly strikes a golden balance. And the fact which I admire most about her is that she never even mentions or thinks about it as if she is doing some herculean task (though it very much is!). For me, obviously, she is the best mom!

There are million women like this, who, as our Chief Guest said, ‘don’t wear their gender on their sleeves’…What they need is not a single day of ‘recognition’; but a lifetime of a little bit of acceptance…..      

A Simple Message...

A Simple Message...