‘AND‘ – the simple 3 lettered word represents the spirit of empowering yourself to pursue different tracks, without having to turn your back on one path for choosing the other.
One dimensional labels have, for long, been used to typecast women.
Time and again you are told that you can be either a successful homemaker OR a successful professional, a caring woman OR an ambitious woman, a demure woman OR a brazen woman. Unfortunately such stereotypes are painfully restrictive, leave women with little choice, and have dissuaded many women from reaching their potential.
Now is the time to give a chance to ‘AND‘ .
I will tell you about two women, born in different times, almost 70 years apart, and how OR and AND have influenced their lives.
The Age of OR
In the year 1941, a girl from Allahabad, scored 100/100 in Maths in her Xth standard. Those were the days when a very few women in India got the chance to complete school and coaching classes were unheard of. Jyuthika Chatterjee‘s name appeared in the local newspapers and till date remains on the school board.
But that was the age of OR.
Due to the lack of colleges for girls nearby, she could not study More.
Married into a well off family, she had to be contended being a home maker. Today at the age of 90, she still holds people in awe with her clear logical thinking, her grasp on numbers and her photographic memory as she recalls her life events with date -time stamps.
She regrets that she could study no further. She is our beloved grandmother.
The Age of AND
After completing her Engineering, Manu Ramachandran is doing a Management degree at a premier institute in India. She is the daughter of our neighbours; I have seen her growing up and bringing laurel to her parents and teachers.
“I want to be the Wall Street girl”, said a beaming Manu, after she secured an internship with a leading financial services firm.
Her mother Vidya, who herself is a teacher is proud of her daughter’s academic achievements. Who would not be? Yet, she reveals her own apprehensions.
‘Whatever my daughter does, she comes out with flying colours. Still, I am afraid if she becomes a very high flier, it will be difficult for us to find a good match for her marriage within the community.’
The one-dimensional labels trouble her.
What if her daughter has a demanding job? Will she be able to take care of the needs of her family?
Like any other middle class family they would like to see their daughter settled, she tells me.
Somewhere it reminds me of the apprehensions of my own parents, more than two decades back, and how I had to convince them to allow me to pursue an Engineering degree.
I interject. I reason out with Vidya that Manu, being an intelligent and smart girl will chart out her own course. I assure her that her daughter can be :
A successful professional woman AND a homemaker
A caring AND an ambitious woman
Vidya looks somewhat convinced.
It is high time that we get rid of such one dimensional labels, stop thinking in terms of limitations and start exploring the possibilities with the use of ‘And’.
I add on here that my own interests span across art, history, poetry, philosophy to business, economy and technology. I have worked at construction sites and have managed software projects and have done my management degree and have consulted with businesses and I love to blog. You may call me a jack of all trades (master of none?), but so be it.
Here is my message for the 21st century girls
Acknowledging Maniparna‘s post that inspired me to write on this topic that is very close to my heart.
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