A gathering of dynamic women with dazzling ideas under the same room is bound to set off a brilliant discourse. That was how it was with the select gathering of the fair sex from all walks of life at the Hindustantimes.com-organised event at Taj Palace hotel in the capital onWednesday evening.
Hindustantimes.com has been organising 'Dialogues' -- a unique discussion forum that seeks to enhance awareness and address issues on various topics where prominent experts and leaders are brought together to delve on various issues that plague socially conscious people of India.
Titled Half the sky: Claiming your rightful space, the deliberations focused on how financial independence of women can bring about empowerment.
Moderated ably by journalist Namita Bhandare who started the discussion with a poser offering food for thought: "What happens to all those bright young girls who start with a lot of promise? Why don't we see many women in the mid and senior rungs in corporates and elsewhere?"
Outlining her view on actual empowerment of women, Priya Dutt, Lok Sabha MP, said: "For me the real sense of empowerment is the freedom to make a choice. And earning on her own gives women the freedom to choose."
The entire array of issues facing women from the grassroots to the highest echelons of the corporate world and public governance found notable place in the discourse interspersed now and then by clapping applause.
As Dutt said: "All of us here have stories to tell, and to learn from each other."
The next speaker Charu Sachdev, a lawyer by training and credited with bringing top luxury and fashion brands into India as the master franchisee, said a level-playing field was the need of the hour for women entrepreneurs.
Narrating her foray into the world of entrepreneurship as she wanted to do "something different and something edgy", Sachdev proposed concessional terms and conditions from the government for women entrepreneurs for loans and other modes of assistance.
Narrating personal anecdotes, Advaita Kala, writer of the 100,000-sale-strong Almost Single and upcoming Bollywood scriptwriter said she found more appeal in using 'financial freedom for women' than 'women's emancipation'.
"Financial security is quite different from financial independence."
Jagi Panda, co-founder and managing director of Ortel Communications, voiced her apprehensions on not seeing too many women at the top. Panda dwelled on the difficulties even women entrepreneurs from financially secure families face.
"I went through at least 100 agencies before I could secure funds for my enterprise." "Earning a fat salary is not empowerment. What is important is breaking the stereotype and acquiring financial stability."
Elaborating her personal experience, Lok Sabha MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal said she grew up in a conservative family feeling 'different' from the 'men'.
"The need really is to change the mindset of society in general. There are women leaders everywhere right from the defence forces to the Lok Sabha speaker to the President of India, but Indian society's mindset still remains the same."
A few issues saw universal agreement: the women's reservation bill has to see the light of the day and more young women should join politics.
The active involvement of the audience in asking probing questions, seeking solutions or recording observations made the event a lively one.