Women’s Day is tomorrow and I’m already seeing pink. Er, red. As the parent of a dyslexic child I was not happy with the Prime Minister’s recent potshot during the presentation of an aid. It makes easy things – like reading and arithmetic – difficult. And for kids who are undiagnosed – the vast majority in India – school must be horrible. India, particularly CBSE, has made some strides in terms of accommodations for kids with Specific Learning Disabilities and so it ain’t all bad.
What made me more mad, though, was the context – a bright, confident girl presents her dyslexia aid during the Smart India Hackathon – and becomes the unintended target for a smart joke. I was proud of her though – she stood her ground and responded to the questions. She did not break into tears or cover her face in embarrassment. If she’s symbolic of the New Indian Woman I’m glad.
Many of us have faced situations where we’re all serious and business-like when someone suddenly breaks the spell with a joke or reference to the frailty of women. Like “hey, shouldn’t you be going home right now? It’s dark.” Or “How does a little lady like you drive such a big car?” (It’s automatic, dude. And yes, it has reverse sensors, so now please move away from the bumper!)
I spotted ICICI’s #fundyourownworth campaign with Konkona Sen Sharma and did not press the skip button. In the midst of the confused messaging around the role of women this was one that was way more modern and practical. She starts with a joke about women drivers and moves on to talking about finding your own path, and funding your own worth.
It’s very hard to own your own destiny without financial independence. And that is really the conversation we need to have on Women’s Day or any other day. Smashing any stereotype, cultural preference, or regulation, that keeps women from realising their true monetary potential. Having financial independence enables you to be a better advocate for yourself, and in a better position to own your destiny. Companies can shape a new narrative for women and I’m hoping more of them will shy away from the roses and candy routine and talk confidence, capability and independence.
In a step in that direction, Paul Writer and Manipal ProLearn are co-hosting a webinar today (Thursday, 3pm IST) on how upskilling can help break the glass ceiling. My co-presenter, Richa Dubey who heads HR for Schneider and I had a brief chat a couple of days ago and we wondered if often the glass ceiling is also in our minds. We lack the confidence to break it because of conditioning, proven capability, and risk averseness. Sure, the larger world has a long way to go but change starts within. If you’d like to join the conversation sign up here. It’s a gender neutral conversation
On March 8th I’m going to be at Amazon, sharing a panel with some amazing entrepreneurs. Looking forward to continuing the conversation on financial independence and the causality with shaping our destiny.