Sangeeta Prasad: Be bold & stand up

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We determine the kind of people we evolve into by our own actions

I have had the privilege of spending a large part of my adult life in working mostly with men. It’s been a fascinating journey as I experienced nurturing, mentoring, protectiveness, indulgence as well as sheer dismissiveness.

I have always observed that certain things stood true wherever I have been.

Being comfortable in ones skin, being confident to speak out and being assertive certainly establishes ground rules in a cogent manner. Performance and delivery are the twin tenets which holds one in good stead anywhere any time.

It’s true that in this life’s journey difficulties and opportunities have and do come in good measure; and self-realisation and motivation, support of people who care are redeeming catalysts. Health, happiness and the endeavour to get up after a fall are critical to our life’s journey. As I have grown in years, I have also endeavoured to create an enabling environment and it’s always heartening to see young men and women coming on their own.

When I started my career in a well-known and diversified company and was going through my induction in the early 90s in mines and collieries (what an enthralling experience that was!), I experienced intrigue, affection and wonder. Some of my colleagues actually wanted to know whether a male family member was part of the company and if I was joining because of him! I was indignant at that time and would reply that I was the first member of the family to join the company and that I had joined because I respected the company’s ideals, values and vision. I remember this incident now with fondness as at that time girls hardly joined in the line function and the questions may have stemmed from genuine concern. I must add here that my tenure, thereafter, has been enriching and has enabled me to grow as a person and a professional.

I have had hilarious experiences in my early days when as a branch manager I had to face customers who would ask me to call someone who is technical!

Such experiences are hard, but have taught me a great deal and helped make me stronger and better as it was my actions which defined me and earned me respect.

The world has evolved since, as in the last two decades I have seen how girls have blossomed in every sphere, be it academic excellence, sports, art or even engineering.

In conclusion, I would like to say that it is we who determine the kind of people we evolve into and our own actions determine our equity and presence in this world. Of course, our upbringing and good Samaritans we meet along the way do play a role but it is primarily the self that is responsible.

I continue to strive with the strength of my parents’ blessings and teachings, my teachers’ guidance, smiling faces all around (especially my daughter’s), the support of my family and continuous learning from all sources. They collectively encourage me to believe that I will be able to traverse the journey of life in a meaningful manner.

In life, it’s important to know what makes one happy and then do that. A woman needs to be comfortable with herself, realise what makes her happy and decide her choices accordingly – without regret. Whether a woman wants to be a doctor, housewife or teacher, she should be proud of it and never regret the decision.

On societal pressures: These are often cited as woman-centric issues. But they apply equally to men as well. Societal pressures related to the right time to get married or sustenance for one’s family, are equal and pertinent to both genders.

Be assertive: Be proud that you are a woman. But don’t take advantage of it by assuming some brownie points or slight margins for error is inbuilt because of that. At the same time, there is no disadvantage inherent in being a woman.


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