Women, go to work, please!

It was this article that got me thinking. And maybe it’ll get you thinking, too.

And if you don’t read the entire article, you can read just the first two lines.

LAKSHMI, the goddess of wealth and fortune, is the closest thing Hinduism has to an economic deity. How poorly her earthly sisters in present-day India are faring. 

Not that I was unaware of the scenario, but this mainly reaffirms what the reality is. This time, with real-life examples and figures to support the claim.

Ironic, very ironic. In the land where the ardently worshipped deities of wealth, education and power are all female, India is losing out a major chunk of its talent only because so many women are at home. A loss that converts into economic deprivation in terms of becoming a significant contributor to the nation’s poverty by a staggering 27%

Whats even more ironic that the only reason isn’t just the lack of education, it’s also the never-ending social pressures that collectively surmount to keep women actively out of the workforce. In-laws demanding the their daughters-in-law stay at home despite their education and desire to earn. Organizations that don’t support working mothers forcing women with children to quit their jobs and take a hiatus, which very often means that they don’t get back to work at all. Women entrepreneurs struggling to keep their ventures afloat, with collectively only around 2% of total venture capital financing going to women.

Of course there have been game changers within the society, in terms of women among the likes of Indra Nooyi, Kiran Majumdar Shaw and Chanda Kocchar, who have risen up the corporate ladder as well as gone to create successful companies of their own. And business models that supported women employment. AMUL and Lijjat Papad. And little proliferations of self-employed women with regard to the good old Tupperware and Amway aunties, the waxing ladies, the tuition teachers and the neigbourhood ladies with their pickle and tiffin businesses. Yet, the number of women who collectively remain unemployed still outnumber them.

Growing up, I was fortunate to be born to parents who viewed education and having a career equally important for both sons and daughters. Which meant that I never thought of myself not having a full-time job, ever. Yet again, that does not mean that I am biased towards stay-at-home moms. The point I’m trying to make, is that not every woman has to have a full-time job. There are women who stay out of active employment out of choice. But that doesn’t mean that the women at the other end of the spectrum, that is women who want to work, should be held back in any form. It is the birthright of every single woman, to have access to education, economic freedom and empowerment. So that when they fo genuinely want to go out and make a living, they are not are obstructed by  financial, physical or social barriers. From more education opportunities,  self-employment and work-from-home options, to child-friendly workplaces, maternity benefits, more microfincnace options and venture capital funding. We need them all.

Maybe this could be a wake-up call, and our mantra for the years to come: Sending more women to work. Hopefully our daughters and granddaughters, shall look at boardrooms and corner office aspirations as normal, instead of glass ceiling achievements, like our generation does. And we will have a fuller, richer economy, that thrives from the collective effort of both men and women.

(The article cited appeared in The Economist : Why India needs its women to work. https://www.economist.com/leaders/2018/07/05/why-india-needs-women-to-work)

Of variables, constants & more.

Life is change,

And change is life.

And along the way, I learned,

There are the variables,

Things, places and people.

That find their way into your story.

To come, stay a while, and leave.

To never return, or look back.

For of the tale

They were a part, a chapter, a page.

That earring I lost,

and searched and searched

To never find it again.

The house I grew up in,

On which today stands a hotel.

That friend who moved away,

And promised to write back,

But never did.

The love stories that were to be,

happily ever afters,

But became tales of heartbreak and tragedy instead.

And then there are the constants,

Things, places and people.

That come, and never leave.

That favorite coffee mug,

You’ll always notice amidst the others.

That go-to restaurant down the corner.

The one that never disappoints.

That sibling,

Who’ll be the worst enemy

And the best friend,

All at once.

That book, you’ll always turn to

On the cold winter evening.

Mommy’s chocolate cake recipe,

The one that succeeds, when all else fails

The strangers that become friends,

To family, and maybe even beyond.

And sadly, these are always few,

And hard to find.

But along this journey, I learned,

That the variables are to be let go of,

For they had a purpose, a role to play.

Which now is past.

And the constants, held on to.

To be loved, and cherished.

And to be held tight.

For constants are blessings

Slight illusions of permanence

Amidst the ever changing.

Nurture the constants,

Let go of the variables.

But never confuse the two.

Nor over attach to either

or despise any.

For as I learned, they’re both imperative, 

The yin and the yang

The black and the white

The night, and the day.

And in the end, as we learn.

Life is change.

And change is life.

She Thought, and so she did.

She was a rebel, always had been,

A woman of her own mind, a free spirit,

For within the depths of her heart & soul,

Lay many dreams nurtured & kindled.

She believed she could bring change,

She knew she’d tread her own path

And within the realms of the physical world,

She believed that she’d find her own place.

The world laughed when she told them of her dreams,

Reminded her of her vices,

Discouraged, Exploited, even humiliated her.

But alas, they failed miserably

For within her softness, lay nerves of steel.

Every wall they created, she climbed over

Every glass ceiling they made, she broke away

To them she never spoke a word,

But with all she did, nor could they.

She stood above them all,

An example, an inspiration, a story of all her wins,

And when someone asked her where she found the strength,

She smiled and said ‘It comes from within’.

They’ll come and tell you’ll never do it

They’ll try to break you all apart

But the one thing that always must stay lit, ‘

Is the flame of hope, within the heart.”