March 8 –International Women’s Day, celebrated across nations to cherish and acknowledge women who have been a part of our lives. Corporate India is more so celebrating it to reward its women employees and appear all women friendly.

November 19 – International Men’s Day – I don’t even remember celebrating it here in India!
This difference, in the way these two days are celebrated sets me thinking. Is it that Women’s Day is celebrated only to make women feel that they are respected and regarded as one among the men?

The role women have played in society has changed drastically in the past few decades, especially so in India. They have grown from strength to strength, from being home makers to leading some of the biggest corporate houses today.

Though women have proven their mettle time and again, their ability is often questioned! Some question their strength, some their commitment while others question their ability to perform professionally, vis-à-vis their male counterparts. Women have been facing the “glass ceiling” effect ever since they tried venturing into the male dominated business scene.

This glass ceiling can be felt in more ways than one. For instance, women are paid differently for the same work when compared to men, or they are often excluded from informal networks, etc. They also face another ceiling called the “hour glass ceiling” which means they’re discriminated against, based on the number of hours they work. Women also face a lot of hindrances in progressing upwards in the corporate ladder, and not to mention – Sexual Harassment too! These noticeable and commonly known issues relating to working women, proves that corporates tend to have preconceptions and stereotypes about women workers and their abilities, which makes them behave in a way which is discriminating against women and their spirit.

I wonder how this discrimination even came in. I don’t want to be a sexiest and blame all the men for it! From a rational point of view, I fail to understand the difference in what women and men do. Men work outside their homes to earn a living while women work equally hard to run a house and raise a family of well groomed individuals. Both men and women put in the same amount of work. As far as I understand, “the man” being superior came in when they started taking part in commerce from where they earned money, and money being a way to buy things that one wants made women depend on them ages ago. This dependence is seen fading off in today’s age and often men find it difficult to accept this change. I do not blame them for not liking the change, after all most of us don’t like change!

Workplaces need to be more responsive and to create situation where men and women are treated with equal dignity. Corporates need to be more open to women leaders who have the ability to cut through a male dominated work place, and make their own mark.

There is a common thread that unites all women. They were strong, intelligent, individualistic, and comfortable with themselves as women. Strong women don’t need male pretensions and don’t emulate male behavior. There are lots of examples of women who have stood their ground in testing times and emerged victorious. To name a few – Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chanda Kochhar, Indira Nooyi, Barkha Dutt, Kiran Bedi. The women on my list achieved what they did before the feminist movement told us that such feats were not possible for women living in a “man’s world”. These women achieved great stature, not by adopting male behavior, but by using the strengths that are unique to women and not possessed by many men.

(This is dedicated to all women at Sutra)
Cheers to Women Power!
(This article is not in favour of women and against men. It is a perspective on the Glass Ceiling that women face in spite of being capable and worthy)

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