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'Women are always underestimated'

Last updated on: March 4, 2013 17:29 IST

'Women are always underestimated'

Shobha Warrier

On the occasion of International Women's Day on March 8 we asked successful Indian women for their views on issues Indian women face today. First up is Patricia Narayan FICCI Woman Entrepreneur of the year 2010, director of Sandheepa Chain of Restaurants. Here's what she has to say about how life is for women today.

The inspiring success story of Patricia Narayan is so legendary that it has found a place in the latest issue of Readers' Digest.

She had to struggle really hard and face a lot of turmoil, both professionally and personally to reach where she is: owning a chain of restaurants. It is her self-confidence, conviction in her passion and hard work that brought her to this position.

On the occasion of the International Women's Day on March 10, here is what she says about how life is for women today.

I feel even today, women don't get the respect they deserve. In the workplace, women are always underestimated and their self-respect, challenged.

I feel words like woman empowerment are only in paper. How many women have achieved empowerment even today? Unfortunately, majority of Indian women are financially weaker than men and it suits men also when women have to depend on them. They are still expected to depend on their father, husband or son all their lives. The lives of majority of women in India are like this and only a small percentage has achieved freedom from this.

But I would say a woman is the only person who can perform so many roles efficiently. While a man may be extremely successful in his workplace, a woman takes care of the house, her children, her old parents, and also her office and she does all this very well. That is why I always say, women are not the weaker sex, like many describe, but the stronger one.

Unlike the women of my generation, today's young girls who step out of college to start a life of their own enjoy more freedom. Though it is a good sign, I feel many young women from affluent families are taking their freedom for granted. They are not channelising their energy and freedom in the right direction, and they are not focussed.

On the other side, there are girls from the not so privileged class who work really hard. They know what they are fighting for.

Unless girls know their responsibility, channelise their energy in the right way and set goals, they will not move ahead. From the day I started my business, I had set goals for the next day, next week and next month and the year ahead.

Earlier, when something happened to someone, the entire village or the entire family would come around but today, there are no joint families to give you support. This family support, I feel is one of the major issues that today's women face.

When I started as an entrepreneur in the hotel industry, there were so many people to pull me down but I chose to shut my ears and concentrated only on my work. So, I tell all young women out there, don't listen to what others say but give your 100 per cent, heart and soul to your work.

Though women of today have performed much better than any of us, the problems faced by all of us have increased. In my case, even today, if I take a step forward, there are many who try to pull me back by ten steps. The situation will definitely change in the long run. I am optimistic.

Image: Patricia Narayanan
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj