We have lived in times where men had the sole decision making powers, be it regarding the choice of furniture in their house or whether the wife should opt for working a job of her choice. Women have been designated indefinitely to roles such as mothers, wives and generally someone who you could lean on. This very quality makes a women the pole centre of any support system.
Contrary to popular belief, women are the biggest supporters of their own kind.
Be it a household, or a corporate setting, women are trying hard to survive the winter that tests their social acceptance as someone who is more than just a primary care giver in the former and someone who can lead in the latter.
As we speak to women entrepreneurs, we try to learn how supporting other women in the industry has made an difference on the whole.
Charu Noheria - Co-Founder & COO of Practically
In order to empower women in the workplace, I personally believe that, firstly, we need to be educated on women's issues, secondly, we need to be aware of our role as women and, thirdly, we need to give ourselves a chance to lead. Organizations and coalitions are encouraging more women to work together to create a more inclusive environment for people who identify as female.
In my individual capacity, I try to offer my time and expertise when anyone reaches out to me be it for introductions, job referrals or even professional advice. I believe that we can learn and grow together no matter what we are doing and where we are in our careers. My advice to women is to support and encourage each other. It is important to figure out how to thrive as working women, so you should take the time to invest in yourself while supporting others. Recognize your talents and find out how to share them with other women who may need guidance and inspiration.
I have also been lucky to work with several accomplished women leaders who I look up to. They have shown me that you can be successful and empathetic at the same time. I actively seek out women entrepreneur groups and try to take part in their activities to network with other women entrepreneurs.
Dr. Shikha Baghi Bhandari - CEO & Owner, Timeless Aesthetics
I threw myself into my work right out of university. The work ethic instilled in me by my parents, enabled me to persevere against worldly odds. These qualities are necessary to make it into world. I realize that not all of us are given the same opportunities, which is why it is necessary for people like myself to create opportunities for others.
There is no better way to help someone than to enable them to help themselves. That is one of the main reasons why I took it upon myself to educate and train women to become self-sufficient. These skills can earn them work and they can even start their own businesses.
Timeless Aesthetics is a place where you can find yourself. My entire focus is to make you believe that you're important, you are perfect and you're capable. These elements are also part of my trainings.
Our nonprofit initiative "Timeless Promise" helps those less fortunate and acid attack victims. These women are simply ignored by the masses, they not only receive free treatments at my clinic but I also offer them training and employment to which, there are no charges or fees.
Learning a good trade can set you up for life and I firmly believe that. My mother worked her entire life and I am showing it not only to my children the importance of financial independence but also to those who walk through my doors.
I hope to make a difference in someone's life, I believe I'm doing so in my own way.
Pragya Agarwal - Co-founder of ORCO Spices
Being a woman, I personally respect and admire any woman entrepreneur starting her own business or working with someone. Nowadays it’s good to see almost every young girl wanting to do something. I personally prefer having woman partners, people in space who I work with. I chose to have at least a woman in the team always.
I strongly believe in ‘Women for Women’, which is also the essence of my startup ORCO, an organic condiments, and spices brand. The journey began in 2017 when on a daily basis I witnessed my house help being a victim of domestic violence. Having been associated with social work for a couple of years, I realised domestic violence at home is quite regular in Indian family units, particularly among the low-income communities. That’s when I decided to take a step forward and help these women become financially independent.
I began ORCO Spices with my 25-year-old daughter Adhvika Agarwal, with the mission to empower marginal sector women by setting up a small unit in the backyard of my own house and motivating these women to use the skill they already had, i.e. processing spices. Understanding the changing trends Adhvika, decided on taking the organic route and it was an uphill ride from there.
We started with merely 4 women working part-time in our backyard and now we have been successfully able to employ over 100 women and plan to take the number up to 500 in the next year.
It makes me extremely happy to see that my daughter and I were able to build a brand that has helped several underprivileged women become independent and financially stable.
Shradha Vyas - Founder, Carpediem
I have personally been through the phase of a girl in the events industry, which has now shaped me into the Woman I am today.
It is definitely tough, as in most fields which are male-dominated, but more in the events industry you feel the pinch when a woman has to give instructions and demand and be tough on men of different categories from workmen to the office level.
So I do all I can to promote women, teach them the tricks of the trade on how to effectively communicate and not only survive in this world but to thrive.
And of course, if all else fails – the last trick is to get angry and everyone shuts up.
Srijana Bagaria - Co-founder, Pee Safe
Ensuring access to good hygiene and sanitation practices is one of the sustainable development goals. However, when it comes to women and their access to these amenities for better health, there is not much to talk about in our country.
This is despite numerous campaigns and other initiatives both by the government and private sector entities. The pandemic brought out this gap further with many women left without access to basic and affordable things like a sanitary pad.
Pee Safe went a step ahead during this time and even before COVID-19 struck, we launched our sister concern Raho Safe, a brand that provides access to affordable personal hygiene and wellness products. At Pee Safe, we even launched our own range of female condoms called Domina, something that is yet to be popularly accepted in India. Pee Safe was a brand that started to address the need for hygienic solutions for women at the outset and diversified to other products later.
As women, we are often challenged by limited opportunities, a lack of products that suit our needs, among other things. On Women’s Day, it is important to bust the myth that these challenges are roadblocks. On the contrary, these are an opportunity in disguise. We must quit trying to prove ourselves but rather focus on growing and acknowledging our potential to succeed. We have been changemakers always and will continue to remain so for the times to come.
Shumita Kakkar – Founder, United We Care
My startup United We Care sprung out of an essential need in January 2020 when the pandemic was in its full course. Mental health issues are a huge problem in India primarily due to a lack of awareness and the stigma surrounding them. This came to the fore during the pandemic when the lockdown, etc. led to many people suffering from stress, anxiety, and related issues.
For women and members of the LGBTQ community, it was an additional blow. At United We Care, we wanted to give people access to counsellors, therapists, and even lawyers without the fear of stigma or judgement.
We have been able to reach out to a number of people through our platform and integrated campaigns around mental health during this challenging time. As a woman, I challenged two stereotypes: the stigma around mental health issues and the fact that women cannot lead from the front.
I was able to make a difference and believe every woman can do so in her capacity. We have the inherent ability to multitask and think laterally. On this Women’s Day, let us make use of this ability to forge ahead in what we are passionate about and move forward with conviction.
Vanya Chandel - Founder, Forfurs
We are presented with so many opportunities, that we can rise with others and not over. We are taught to fight for a certain spot to be successful when in reality we can just make space for others like us. Raising each other, co-existing, and collaborating is truly how we bring change in our work environment.
I run a business where we require artisans in our workshop. I try to do my bit by employing and training untrained woman artisans in my workshop. This is good not only for business as we can train them according to our requirement but also for the women as they now have financial independence and a steady income. I believe the easiest way to support someone is to give them a chance.
Some of these “untrained” women have turned into great assets to the company and it makes me proud when I see them excel in their work. If you are in a position where you can help or support someone, you should just do it. I see so many capable women around me that just require a chance to prove themselves and I am so grateful that I am in a position where I can support other women. There are so many women that are coming up with their businesses and doing great in their respective fields, I think it’s time we support, encourage, and empower each other.
Neha Suyal - Co-founder, Woovly
Having come from a home where the education and independence of women were held in high regard, I never knew of a challenge that I couldn't solve. Today, women are being rightly recognized for their contributions at their workplace.
For instance, at my company, one of the most important job profiles is held by a woman and that says a lot about how far we’ve come, with respect to the education and career opportunities that are available for women today.
Not much of an advice, but to all the women out there, ‘Why should boys have all the fun?'
Chahat Aggarwal- Founder and CEO of Impact Study Biz
Being a woman who has faced her fair share of struggles I do want the path to be easier for those who would follow. And to do so I decided to question and look into all organizational policies ranging from talent management to compensation for any overt or covert gender bias. We offer flexible timings and work-from-home options to men and women alike. And it isn’t just due to the pandemic. We shall continue on the path once things go back to normal as well. We believe this step to be of great help to new moms. We try to be very intentional on our part that we promote gender parity and discourage gender stereotypes. As a result, today we have female talent throughout the organization.
On a personal level too, I try to be as resourceful to women who are contemplating quitting their jobs and thinking of dipping their toes in the entrepreneurial pool and am very open to sharing all my learnings to women who aspire for a career in branding but don’t yet know the path to get started. And I am a cheerleader for life, in life overall to all women who are out there trying to make it happen irrespective of their field. Cheering each other on can do wonders for someone you know.
Bunisha KhajaMohaideen - Co-Founder, Terabite Ekarts
I strongly feel the best way to inspire fellow women is by showing them the way we practice to lead our professional careers and enhance the skills. Let's practice before we preach, Real Inspiration must be a lesson, not just an advice.
I look forward to encouraging every woman to speak up and showcase their complete core competencies in their professional arena in whatever industry they are part of.
Naina Aggarwal Ahuja - Founder & COO, Talking Point Communications
Over the years I have mentored many exceptional women who wanted to understand how PR, reputation management, and digital communications works.
PR is to a large extent a women-dominated profession and often people don't understand the work and commitment it entails.
I always make it a point to walk newcomers through the same and also constantly encourage colleagues to learn and evolve. I feel it's crucial to keep growing both personally and professionally.
Debasri Rakshit - Director of Operations & Strategy, Spark.Live
It is encouraging to see more and more women diversifying their portfolios and capabilities today. There are also new avenues to showcase their creativity and abilities now more than ever before. Horizontal marketplaces such as Spark.Live are not only helping them learn new skills but also enabling them to teach what they know to others.
During the lockdown, even as traditional jobs went askew, women began honing their inherent talents and skills in more ways than one thanks to platforms like Spark.Live. Women are leading from the front in everything they do – be it running a tech-based business or becoming an entrepreneur in their own right while ensuring that they have a healthy work-life balance. Gone are the days when being a woman was a hindrance to one’s professional success.
Conviction in what we do is everything - and, I believe, it is true for everyone, whether you are a man or a woman. It is, therefore, important that women give their best to anything they do - while supporting and encouraging each other in their endeavors and turning every adversity into an opportunity to achieve their goals. On a larger level, we hope to get more support from the government and corporates to bring in actionable, conducive policies and avenues to help us forge ahead.
Bhakti Dalal - Founder of BDCC
I have been fortunate to work with women entrepreneurs who have been always available to offer the right advice when I’ve been in need of advice and guidance on a particular matter. I believe this is the simplest but most impactful way to support anyone. I try to reciprocate all the support that I receive.
Being available to share unique perspectives, approaches on how one can tackle a particular situation, or just being a good listener – sometimes all we need is a good sounding board.
I also believe it’s important to share positive and also not-so-pleasant experiences as ultimately, we’re all facing similar challenges and opportunities. Sharing experiences can not only help someone but could also provide oneself a solution to one’s own challenges.
Fortunately, there are several forums and platforms that are emerging that allow women to support one another, which is not only encouraging but also instils confidence in one’s ability to continue working despite numerous challenges. These forums act as a safety net that allows women to learn of new developments, know what are the challenges that others are facing, and solutions adopted to overcome these challenges.
It's time women change this narrative of being pitted against each other. We need more women leaders and that's why the support of each other becomes ever so essential. The stereotype has been shoved down our throats so deep that we are reluctant in believing that women can be world leaders. It's just about the time that we prove them wrong.