Stories that Inspire-3

Gender Equality at work places

Globally Gender Equality is an area of focus for nations, organizations, political parties, self-help groups. these are working towards building gender equal communities. I got recently sensitized towards the great work happening across the world and the immense effort required to gradually lower the impact created by inequality since several decades. Societies, countries, nations, political systems have evolved to become more sensitive towards the cause of equality to witness the improving trend today. The path is tough as it is deep rooted, but with focused efforts change is surely visible with increased commitment to the cause.

This story is about a young girl Jiya, who lives in Mumbai. Jiya is a fresh graduate in Law, currently looking for a job in the dream city of Mumbai. Jiya was the third child of the four siblings, first three girls and last one, a boy. Amongst the siblings, there was a gap of three years in the first two and one year between herself and her brother. Jiya’s father was a factory worker and her mother was a home maker, a full-time wife and mother to their four children.

Jiya looked shy and introvert, unlike other same age girls I had interviewed in the past…curious I tried to strike a conversation and after about nearly three-four meetings with her she was comfortable to respond and share. It was interesting to learn about Jiya’s early life, her schooling and her journey to reach at the doorstep of her dream company.

Jiya’s past life explains her introvert personality… her story goes back to the time she was born. Delivering a third girl child in a row was traumatic for her mother, the expectations of wanting a male child was on its peak when Jiya was born; Jiya was unwanted in the world that she was born. Her elder sisters had got their share of love and affection being the first two and that the gap between the elder one and her being three years. Jiya came to life at a stage when her mother was aging, father was desperate to have a son, also the financial condition of the family was right for a family of three to live comfortably. But the societal pressures of wanting a male child was mounting up to the extent that Jiya got her brother just after a year of her birth. Which meant that the tryst of wanting a male child was fulfilled… Jiya faced the maximum as priorities of her mother changed and she was mostly not available to take care of her, her eldest sister was seven and barely could manage herself. Her father had to do additional labour as he could not support the family with his current job. Jiya had memories where she was left crying for hours as there was no one to attend to her, the mother was busy cooking, cleaning and taking care of her brother, the elder sisters had company of each other and were a team. There were practical challenges, but it impacted her psyche, her childhood. But Jiya quotes that ..then; she thought it to be normal as that is how she grew up…. for many years she thought that it was ‘SHE’ and not ‘HE’ and that’s what made the difference of how otherwise she (He) could have lived her life as her brother got more attention for obvious reasons!

Jiya was a gifted learner and was able to fair well and always got good grades. This was what made her parents let her graduate unlike her sisters who could barely complete junior college and gradually got married couple of years ago.

School and college was not easy for Jiya, as being a girl and that too from a poor family had its own set of challenges…Jiya shared that in her class there were barely 10-12 girls and rest were boys. She has gone through the pain of being teased on her habits, her physical strength, her long hair, her clothes, she was mocked for her sense of dressing, envied and cornered as many could not stand her good grades …Jiya had already faced it all.

While she was in grade 10, Jiya was sent to another school to participate in an essay writing competition, before the competition was to begin … Jiya narrates that she got a chance to listen to the chief guest – a renowned writer of those times, she states this was a life changing experience as the writer influenced her thinking, Jiya realized that she was doing something really wrong, something that needs to change for better, it was – ‘not being able to accept herself’ and ‘overcoming gender stereotypes’ for a fulfilling life.

Jiya still remember the tips she got from that address of the writer:

  1. Focus on your strengths
  2. Think positive and avoid negative thoughts
  3. Accept your imperfections
  4. Do not stress on what others might think about you
  5. Take and own your decisions
  6. Try your 100%
  7. Do what you love

On gender stereotypes, the author asked a powerful question to all the girls ‘What is your answer to someone who mock at you of having less physical strength’? ‘What would be your response?’… there was pin drop silence until a girl responded ‘I will use my wit to outwit that person, as that is my strength’ and everyone clapped for almost a minute!

The author further said that gender stereotypes should not be avoided but challenged and that is the first step towards creating gender equality, so power up and go for it – sky is the limit.

Jiya lived a life after that day to be an inspiration to others and faced all stereotypes with self belief, she wanted to study and graduate from law school, with her good grades her parents didn’t withdraw her, the school found a sponsor for Jiya to fund her further education.

Today Jiya has her first interview at a famous Law firm in south Mumbai, she is all prepared for her interview beaming with confidence, holding a resume which she carved out by her diverse interests, hobbies and a powerful academic record.

I knew after talking to her that she was not a shy and introvert girl which seemed when I first saw her…it was possibly my bias!


Certified Coach, Trainer, Human Resources
Employee Engagement & Organisation Development ProfessionaL

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