Women and Second Chances — IWD’17

“We want to construct a different world of work for women. As they grow up, girls must be exposed to a broad range of careers, and encouraged to make choices that lead beyond the traditional service and care options to jobs in industry, art, public service, modern agriculture and science.” — Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director. (Click here to read more)

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th each year to mark the contribution of women to society across the globe. It is a perfect time for all of us to acknowledge, celebrate and reflect on the progress made on Women’s rights globally. But more importantly, it is a day to call for an end to gender inequality in all its forms — especially those that exist in the work space. Aptly themed “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50–50 by 2030”, this year, International Women’s Day happens at a time when there are major changes happening world over that could have significant implications for women.

Now more than ever, we need to make small changes that have the potential to make a big impact.

Women and Second Chances

Sairee Chahal, CEO and Founder of SHEROES in India, realized the difficulties women face in building a comeback career. She built a platform that connects women across India with flexible careers, allowing them to balance the competing demands of family and a job. It’s rooted in her belief that every woman deserves to find success irrespective of education or geography.

She shares her views on “Second Chances”, and challenges women to be more alert to everyday opportunities that could provide that break they need to get a better shot at life.

“There are no second chances. There can never be.

If we ever put down our lives on a spreadsheet, each and every minute detail, which apparently might seem inconsequential, they may have had a role to play in bigger scheme of things.

We at SHEROES believe that women’s lives are nonlinear. The career graph is more so. The primary reason so many women drop out in their careers, is to accommodate different roles which takes priority in their lives. Motherhood, family pressures, societal expectations and a lot of other things come into play, when a woman is “expected” to take a break from her career. Also the biases attached to hiring a ‘woman’ who is bound to abandon her career for a ‘settled family’ life. Rendering her unstable.

The #futureofwork is here to jolt us out of our slumber and apparently the biggest beneficiary of this shift, are supposed to be women. Women and men are coming out and talking about engaging and tapping the large pool of resource women have to offer. #EqualPay is being discussed and we have at least begun to recognize the need for it. We have made the beginning. Are these the second chances we are talking about?

They are not chances, rather ‘opportunity’ is the right word. Opportunities draws closer to what I am trying to put across here.

What would you consider a second lease of life? A new job, a new partner, a new friend, a new mentor, or a new dog maybe! It is going to take some soul searching on your part to list down all the opportunities, huge, life-changing ones or the unimportant ones.

The opportunity to break stereotypes, to steer away from the beaten path and to take up a less traveled road, to rise above average, it takes a lot more than a second chance to make things work for you.

Second chances or as I would like to call, opportunities, carry the promise of hope. At the risk of sounding idealistic, it is legitimate to ride on the hopes of a better and brighter tomorrow. A woman’s career graph is overlapped by other parallel responsibilities they have to shoulder. They may be familial in nature, or may be a better career opportunity, or exploring different avenues in life. All this leads to that second chance we are now romanticizing. Essentially these second chances are just a window to have a better shot at life. I would like to rephrase that. To make the best out of our life.

Thus, no point of second chances, just innumerable opportunities to grow and learn in life.”

SHEROES engages with businesses to help them connect with female talent in the form of employees, partners, customers and business owners. Sairee is India’s foremost women-at- work evangelist. She is the convener for The SHEROES Summit and has been instrumental in bringing together businesses and women professionals on a common platform. Nominated for the Editor’s choice for L’oreal Femina Women’s Award, she is also a Cartier Women’s Award Initiative for 2012 alumni, a TED speaker, Business Today, Most Powerful Women in Indian Business 2012 and has been featured on shows such as Young Turks, Pioneering Spirit and What Women Want.

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