The spirit of Indian women is incredible!
March 8, is International Women's Day. As part of a week-long series to celebrate women, author Manjiri Gokhale Joshi, in this column, tells us why she salutes the spirit of Indian women and elaborates why we must employ immediate measures to make their work lives better.
From taking tough decisions at every stage of life to being committed to the job at hand, Indian women have proven time and again that they have the unique talent to multitask and excel.
The least we as organisations can do is to find ways to improve the current work conditions and retain the talent, feels Manjiri Gokhale Joshi.
Why Indian women work?
Women from challenging socio-economic backgrounds are most likely to work outside home primarily to earn and support a family.
Women from relatively stable backgrounds are more likely to work not just as a source of income but to pursue careers as well.
In my experience, most professional organisations today operate in an egalitarian manner and, women have equal opportunities to contribute and chart their own career paths.
However, there are two key issues that often stop women from achieving their potential at the workplace-- the social environment and a woman's own confidence level.
Even women, who are competent and assertive at the workplace, often refuse challenging assignments, higher responsibility, commitments after work hours or assignments that involve travel due to inadequate family support and social pressure.
Women of all ages often struggle to meet the conflicting demands of a family, the social structure and the workplace. Often, extremely capable women give up promising careers or give up on the fulfilling experience of motherhood as they believe they have to make a choice.
Why we must create a better workplace for women
If organisations plan and intelligently execute flexible work options and also invest in subsidised and good quality childcare facilities to support women and men employees with children it will go a long way in retaining talent.
Women in professions like medicine, nursing, journalism, air travel, hospitality and shift workers in the service industry have been working late hours for years now.
Several organisations in these sectors provide a safe work environment as well as transport facilities.
However, given recent unfortunate incidences, safety during commutes, remains a major factor that could inhibit women from taking on jobs that involve working late hours.
This is where employers as well as legislation could play a role.
Hungry for success? Make that choice!
If you want to be a successful woman professional and also lead a fulfilling family life, you need to first be extremely serious about your career and extremely diligent and accommodating in your personal life.
In order to achieve anything, sacrifice is essential.
And in this case, the sacrifice would be your own personal time or social life at least for a few years till the demands on your time ease!
If you do decide to make that choice and take a break from your career due to family commitments, it is once again your own responsibility to gradually build your own comfort in living with that decision and also consciously make efforts to retain your confidence and go back to your profession if you wish to/need to.
Salute to the incredible women!
The most admirable quality among women is their resilience.
Take the cleaning of vegetables or embroidering a quilt on an overcrowded train/bus to work.
Take the mother on a two-wheeler balancing a child, a basket of groceries and a stack of files to finish work at home.
Take the numerous brave women who work as domestic help or labourers who support families on meagre incomes.
The spirit of these incredible women deserves a salute.
Manjiri Gokhale Joshi is founder of MAYA Care, a not-for-profit organisation for senior citizens and has also authored the book Crushes, Careers and Cellphones released in 2011.
Image: A woman employee in a Dell factory in Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu
Photographs: Babu Babu/Reuters