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It is a man's world, but let's not forget women

Women's rise to positions of power is definitely a cause of cheer, writes Shalini Narang.
None | By Shalini Narang, California
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2007 04:11 PM IST

On the brink of the upcoming International Women's Day on March 8, I cannot help but retrospect about some recent happenings that though directly relate to some happenings in the west, yet offer a lesson in life and learning to one and all, especially in a globalised world where pleasures and pressures of home and work intersect and interplay.

The important incidents in parallel showcase the rise in the stature of women and the perils that arise with our special emotional and biological make.

To recap the happy happenings, effective July 1 2007, Drew G Faust, an eminent historian and outstanding academic leader will become the twenty-eighth president of the prestigious Harvard University and the All England Club that hosts Wimbledon championships will award equal prize-money to men and women players.

On the other hand, NASA astronaut Lisa M Nowak was arrested for allegedly hunting down rival astronaut and US Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman.

Nowak and Shipman were both vying for the affection of another astronaut and Nowak apparently decided to take out the competition.

While the ascend of women to positions of power and prestige in academic, political, corporate, scientific, sporting and other fields is definitely a cause of cheer and celebration and initiatives for gender equality in pay by a leading sporting organisation is a stride in the right direction, on the other side, macro and micro travails impacting women seem not to have lessened but changed in subject and scope.

In the same vein, some worrisome lifestyle choices that were earlier only a part and parcel of a man's world, have now traveled to the other side and are a clarion call for societal and personal introspection and action especially in the light of the special social and biological responsibilities that women bear.

Going back to the positives, continued progress of women in all fields is praise worthy having made the cliché it's a man's world a passé. Hopefully, the trend is a harbinger of a world in which gender has no negative connotations.

On a realistic plane, history and human behavior show us that social patterns and prejudices governing societal behaviors are slow to mold.

A social change is sustainable when people in positions of power-political, social and economic make conscious and consistent efforts in creating ecosystems that promote and propagate change positives.

For continuing the ongoing momentum towards gender equality, small and big initiatives are very vital and hopefully in the years to come, women will find newer and more potent means and models of camaraderie and companionship that has made the old boys club in corporate, political and other circles, a powerful force to reckon with.

It is common knowledge that many top-level business deals are not struck at boardrooms but during tee times and at other social trysts. To clarify, I am not championing special favors on gender basis but new means of connection and communication.

Many a times, fruits of persistent and persevering initiatives and efforts towards changing or challenging existing social norms and patterns of behavior diligently pursued by one generation are not reaped by the people who have struggled, but by their progenies.

Also while treading the path of progress it is important not only to put the principles of success in practice but also to steer clear of the pitfalls. It is a delicate balance.

For large-scale societal changes, the initiatives have to be multifold. Besides governmental, legal and other institutions creating policies towards gender egalitarianism, sustainable societal changes also need a home base. Initial life lessons to girls in emancipation - educational, economic and emotional are important stepping-stones towards long-term life and career successes.

Girls with role models of potent women emerge strong and self-sufficient. Like good quality sponges, children absorb what they see, hear and experience and initial experiences play a very significant role in shaping their thinking, personalities and decision-making.

Parents of girl children have an important role in providing a milieu in which they thrive and grow as responsible, self-sustaining and thinking individuals whose special abilities are significant not just in career climbs but in promoting and propagating happy homes in which the future lives.

At the important juncture of the International Women's Day, let us remember to celebrate both work worthiness and happy homes and hearths that makes all else worth it.

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