There is a need to instil responsibility for themselves
That is why the Chetna story of practicing what it preached is important. The attitudes sought after in the workplace are not acceptable in most social settings which see such women as bold or aggressive.Though there is considerable writing about leadership, and management students are taught the attributes of charismatic leadership, engendering organisations need change leadership that has vision and energises others to make that vision happen. Leaders have not learnt to use the gender lens and do not see the gender inequalities. “Younger colleagues work collectively. In the TV series Main kuch bhi kar sakti hoon, sponsored by PFI and watched by some 400 million viewers, when asked why they liked the programme, the women said they liked saying Main kuch bhi kar sakti hoon or I can do anything. “Companies look at time as money.
Working women with babies are not seen as an asset to the organisation.The launch of the book saw a lively discussion on engendering organisational leadership by some of the country’s pioneers in NGO work and gender issues. She recalls being introduced to a woman scientist by her husband — “she is a scientist, but she is my wife”. Pleading for a moderate view of feminism, she says it simply means women should be given a shot at all opportunities.The book, A shared destiny… My journey with Chetna, China PPR ELBOW Suppliers written by founder-director Ms Capoor is almost a personal diary blending her upbringing in a liberal, cultured IAS officer’s home with the travails of setting up an organisation focused on nutrition and women’s empowerment and the joy of seeing it blossom into one of the leading NGOs of not just Gujarat but the country. The simple truth is companies prefer women who are available 24×7.
Men also seem more comfortable in sharing power. There is a need to instil responsibility for themselves, to work just like all men have to!At a Women’s Day meeting, Ms Mathur says, just 10 to 15 per cent of the 150 women said they were feminists, showing that feminism is still in a nascent stage. Men have to take on this role if we want to engender organisations, she said. Chetna has been a strong voice on health and adolescent issues influencing policies both at the state and Centre. “In short, companies need to wear the gender lens.Feminists tend to equate empowerment with leadership, she said. There is premium attached to availability”.Ms Capoor points out that often women’s personalities are hidden behind that of their husbands.In the early ’80s when three young women, Indu Capoor, Pallavi Patel and Minaxi Shukla, all in their twenties, decided to set up a civil society organisation called Centre for Health, Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (Chetna) in Ahmedabad, little did they realise that 35 years later it would become a model for engendering organisations. Getting the disempowered to say their name on video is a huge push towards self-esteem and confidence.
If Ms Capoor could do it at 23, why should the 21st century woman hold back?Rajesh Tandon, founder-director of Participative Research in Asia, who inspired writing the book, said many organisations had been set up but Chetna was different. Very often women are made to feel “they are not worth it”. Their families feel a job with regular pay is more important.Having children makes women feel they are being judged.”When an organisation intuitively practices what progressively becomes part of its identity, the work has wider impact and is recognised beyond the organisation.”Courses on engendering organisation, based on the book and experiences of the three women, are to be started by Chetna Outreach which Ms Capoor now heads. “Passion or any other reason for working is not supported. The conflict is between going to work and home. The contrast is particularly stark in gender justice/women’s empowerment work. Being conceived by three young women, Chetna realised that women’s struggles in the workplace were different and unique.” Till society changes, we have to be conscious of gender inequality, she says. They need to encourage men to participate at home just like they encourage women in the workplace. If the place of work is far off, the woman’s workday gets extended.
According to Ms Muttreja it is women’s care giving role which is the biggest impediment to their taking on leadership positions in organisations. “Women in India are ready for change, they need opportunities. Further, workplaces favour certain women. This means the discourse on leadership needs to be recalibrated. This is what Chetna has been able to do,” says Mr Tandon. It combines grassroots work with advocacy and is heard with respect within the country and internationally.All these factors should be kept in mind while creating structures and strategies for working women, says Ms Mathur. Process of building collaboration with other organisations, working on women’s health is emphasised”. Leadership enacted with masculinity (power, authority and knowledge) has greater value, she said. Care giving structures can be changed if we are willing to change patriarchy. “Leaders are not what they do but what they can get others to do. Emotional quotient is more important than IQ. A lot of work in the feminist movement relates to belief in self-worth. While many corporates help women to fit into these structures, they do little to make the structures more gender sensitive.”Poonam Muttreja, executive director — Population Foundation of India, pointed out engendering civil society organisations was very different from the corporate sector.”
Earlier, men had a problem working with and under women but that is no longer an issue, said Kartikeya Sarabhai. The men who inspired and guided Chetna were feminists. At any time 60 to 70 per cent of Chetna’s staff is women and every section whether it is communication, research or finance and accounts is headed by women. Women outnumber men and are in senior leadership positions in the social sector. They want women to be clear and outcome-oriented. The feminist framework of leadership emphasises “power to”, “power over”, “power with” and “power within”.Mr Tandon points out cultures, systems and practices within organisations tend to remain gender blind and don’t practice the values they espouse in their work.To work or not work is no longer a choice, but we bring-up girls with the idea that it is their decision to work or not, says Ms Mathur.
They argue “productive women” are available only from 9 am to 6 pm but men, who may not be that productive, are available from 9 to 9. Women’s careers are not seen as important, specially in the support staff. Yet leadership continues to have a male connotation even in NGOs. The book attempts to make young women more confident.The writer is a veteran journalist based in New Delhi. They are not okay with demure behaviour. Female role models like Ela Bhatt, Medha Patkar and Saint Teresa are not recognised as leaders in social movements, she said.Anuradha Das Mathur, founding dean, the Vedica Scholars Programme for Women, said that a survey across business schools showed why women hold back.Ms Muttreja noted a different leadership style practised in Chetna