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BW Businessworld

Better The Balance, Better The World

Gender equality would not only give freedom to women but also contribute to society, ultimately creating a sustainable future for individuals and families

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They said women look better in the four walls of the kitchen, but Kalpana Chawla looked better stepping on the moon. They said women can’t be a better driver, but Jessi Combs proved them wrong. They said women don’t have enough strength, but Geeta Phogat marked a history. All around the world, women are breaking the glass ceiling and pushing harder to realize their dreams.This year’s International Women’s Day theme of #BalanceforBetter is a need for action to drive gender balance across the world, and there couldn’t be a better time for this towards achieving wholesome parity.

As I introspect the scenario of past years, the biggest challenge for a woman was to make a choice between her career and family, which indicated that success in both cannot coexist as two peaks of a mountain, and led women to obviously opt for the later option. This stated a point that there was no such thing called as work-life balance for women, which meant that they either sequence the focus or alternate with high intensity between profession and home. However, now that the world is going digital and innovative, I see that the world is emerging to be a different place altogether. Technology, Entrepreneurship and Internet at large have given opportunity to women to carve their own two-peaked mountains. Women lead businesses are growing and online support systems and resources are aligning automatically to create time, flexibility and success for women. Breaking the barrier of corporate or bureaucratic careers, they are starting their own businesses, innovating and developing new products, writing software codes, finding business solutions and lot more, while defining their own schedule, which exactly was the sore area that women had to prioritize between home and career in the earlier days. However, let’s not mistake this for an easy win. Be it a man or a woman, climbing a corporate ladder or making your own business reach the height is not at all a cake walk. What entrepreneurship and digitalization have enabled is the possibility to be a boss and a mother at the same time.

To reach an exciting future, a lot of effort needs to be geared towards building a gender-balanced world for which everyone will have a role to play all the time, everywhere. From local and grassroot activism to world-wide collective action, people are already expecting a balance in the future. Meanwhile, women are continuing to trailblaze in the 21st century, influencing world events, politics and businesses near and far. It is not only the case of woman succeeding in a so-called man’s world – that fight goes on, but it is now a case where women are setting precedents for men to follow too. And let’s not forget that stereotypes are also being challenged and a more diverse representation of women is evident across. However, unfortunately, our society is still patriarchal and puts women second on the priority list. Thus, the race is still on for a gender-balanced government, boardroom, employee base and economic world at large.

While there has undoubtedly been progress towards more balanced societies, this doesn’t mean that the challenge is over.Globally, there has been talks about gender parity, but it looks like the call to action and closing the parity gap is slow paced and a very long way to go. And while we are at it, it is also important to change the ‘mindset’ of the people. Now is the time we understand that a woman is not just an epitome of beauty and someone best suited for household chores, but much beyond that. It is important for people to know that she is free to make a choice for her livelihood, lifestyle, career or any opportunity that the opposite gender has freedom for. As rightly quoted by Steve Maraboli, “Once your mindset changes, everything on the outside will change along with it.”We must also create a mind - set amongst the younger generation to treat everyone as equal and to voice the opinion against any biasness. Any good news is that it has started happening already.

Overall, gender equality would not only give freedom to women but also contribute to society, ultimately creating a sustainable future for individuals and families. Let's rise above discrimination and let our actions be a raging fire to prove that a balanced world is a better world.When we talk about Feminism, we are not asking to give greater powers to women, but simply an equal opportunity based on merit, talent, aspirations and potentials. This year’s theme #BalanceforBetter calls on stakeholders to accelerate measures to achieve gender parity across the world. So, let us hold hands and together achieve #BalanceforBetter.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Gitika Srivastava

The author resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts and operates a cancer informatics company in Bangalore, India

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