Freedom is being you without anyone’s permission! We are about to celebrate our 75th independence day, and the hard question to ask is that are the women in our country free to choose? To be themselves to make their own decisions?
Many would argue that we have made a lot of progress. Today, women are working in every field and making a mark, be it the corporate sector, sports, development sector, or entrepreneurship. But the answer to the question is neither linear nor binary. Ours is a vast nation that is home to a very diverse population- in terms of traditions, cultures, mindsets, generations, the works. Even today, how much ever educated, well placed a woman might be, as she navigates through the various life stages, she has to overcome hurdles.
We were in conversation with Sonica Aron, founder, and managing partner at Marching Sheep(An HR advisory firm), who told us in detail about what freedom at work means for women and how we have tarnished its definition. Here's more.
Choosing The Right Career
As a child, it is not her but the parents who choose what career path is most suitable and safe for the girl child. It is well-meaning and well intentioned because every parent wants the best for their child, so they think in terms of societal norms. What will make her get a good groom? What will keep her safe, out of harm’s way in a country where eve-teasing, molestation, rapes are still rampant.
The Right To Get Married Whenever She Wishes To
As she grows, it is not her but the societal pressure that forces her to get married at the ‘right marriageable age’. So what if she wants to focus on her career, and that needs her to travel or relocate or keep long hours? And once she is married, she is expected to fit into the accepted definition of a perfect wife, perfect daughter-in-law even if it comes at the cost of her career expectations.
How Women Can Break Barriers
And because she has been conditioned all her life to adjust, to compromise, she does exactly that. And this has ramifications on her career continuity, career growth, career aspirations. If we want freedom for women at work, for them to be themselves, to be able to speak up, to take charge of their career aspirations, we have to first help them break barriers of the societal norms that prevent them from being themselves and stop them from choosing for themselves. Below are some factors that we all must understand:
- It is perfectly alright for a girl child to have an interest in subjects and career paths that have hitherto been dominated by men. Let them choose.
- It's okay for a woman to marry late, or decide to stay single should she choose to do so, and should be no stigma around it. Let her choose.
- If a couple chooses to have children late or choose to have one child or no children at all. There is no shame in it. Let them choose.
- It is perfectly alright if a woman chooses to grow in her career and relocate to another location, and her family follows her. It is as normal as a man relocating and his family following him.
- It is perfectly normal for a woman to return from maternity leave and be just as ambitious as she was before she went on maternity leave. Do not assume. Let her choose.
- It is okay if a woman to choose work from home to be able to manage personal and professional obligations, without compromising on deliverables. Don’t let your biases decide the ratings or the promotion. Let the results do the talking.
In a nutshell, Freedom at work for women is about giving them choices and respecting those choices.