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Being a woman…

Mar 13 2020 / Posted in Women

- By Dr. Harvinder Palaha, MD (Pediatrics),
Programme Director, Maternal and Newborn Programme, SNEHA, Mumbai

I am a woman and so is the 50% population of the world. To the world I am an educated, working, independent person who is in complete control of her life. But is it?

Till the late 19th century women were treated as commodities. They had no power to decide their fate, were abused, exploited and demeaned. Traditions like child marriage, sati, polygamy, slavery and being denied their basic rights to education, health, dignity were common.

History is witness to those countless, faceless and fateless women who just existed and died without having lived at  all.

It is shocking how in our country where all the major deities like ‘Durga’, ‘Lakshmi’, ‘Saraswati’ and so on are women, the condition  and status of womenkind was so pitiable. Female foeticide was the rule rather than exception and strangely is being practiced even today.

Even in modern times, men outnumber women 78%(men) VS 32% (women  in managerial positions.64% women face microaggression at work. Women are twice as likely to be taken as someone junior and 1.5 times more likely to be addressed in a less than professional manner.[1] Women are paid 23% less salaries than men globally and one in every three women faces some kind of domestic violence.[2]

Before 1850, women either stayed at home or worked as household helps. A disturbing element of history is its unfairness to women. The majority of our most famous inventors and discoverers are men in large part because women were denied the education and opportunity required to make similar achievements (or to get credit for them).

Then gradually the change started and change for the better!

At a time when women were regarded as ornaments of society and were confined to the four walls of their houses, Janaki Ammal certainly broke the stereotype when she pursued a career in scientific research. She was a botanist who studied cytogenetics and phytogeography. She lived in England for a few years, conducting chromosome studies on a wide range of garden plants, but soon returned to India and became the Director General of the Botanical Survey of India. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1957

Anandi bai Joshi is the first Indian woman to have obtained a degree in western medicine. She was married at the age of 9 and gave birth to a son at the age of 14, who, unfortunately, died soon after. Her own poor health and the death of her son inspired her to start studying medicine. She studied at the Women’s Medical College in Pennsylvania and worked in the Albert Edward hospital after her return to India. Anandi bai is a true inspiration to all girls to achieve academic success and follow their dreams.

Dr Marie Curie was the first person to win two noble prizes in history in two different categories. She discovered two elements Radium and Plutonium. She also developed the use of radioactivity to treat cancer. She contacted Leukemia due to her work and succumbed to it at the age of 66. Only other person to win two Nobel Prizes was Linus Pauling

Woman multitasking

Most of the women are good managers and she maintains the entire family with a limited budget varies from 10000 to 50000 per month or even more or less as good managers do in corporate world and she works 24 * 7 * 365 days in a home without expecting any benefits .She performs mother to child, wife to husband, worker in home, employee in office etc. They are capable of doing their work at home as well as in their offices. And we can see that girls are being the topper now instead of boys. Being a manager, a manager needs to be strong, manageable, intelligent and the one who can control and encourage his or her subordinates with patience. And women have all these capabilities in them. For example, Sikha Sharma of Axis bank, Indira Nooyi of Pepsi etc are actually the better managers which are making their companies or banks at the top level. YES,I would like to hold my stand by supporting the argument that "WOMEN ARE BETTER MANAGERS".

The number of women entrepreneurs entering the business arena is increasing day by day. After years, there has come a time when women are doing everything they want and are going all-out to pursue their aspirations. No matter how big a movement of women entrepreneurship it has become, the momentum needs to last and not fade with the tide of times.

Harshita Mann, Director of Lancers International School, feels that young budding women entrepreneurs must be provided with an environment where they can bloom and blossom. “We must offer them a progressive, safe and supportive environment, and also honour their voices and ideas. At the same time, we do our best to mentor and guide them to foresee the future, build and work on their communication and decision-making skills, and motivate them to claim the leadership role they believe they are best suited for.

Like any other field, science too has been dominated by men throughout history. Nevertheless, there had been some female geniuses who braved the patriarchal system and made some unforgettable contributions in various scientific fields, from Chemistry to Computer Science. Their contributions gave science a new direction. Without these brilliant women, the world would not be the way it is today.

Dorothy Hodgkin was the third woman to wind a Nobel Prize  in 1964 and was  an important woman in field of chemistry. In the field of cytogenetics, Barbara McClintock is well known for her ground breaking research in making a genetic map for maize. She won the Nobel prize in 1983 and was considered second only to Gregor Mendel

Women are proving to be excellent leaders too. Although they are a minority but are proving to be a force to reckon with. They have given a whole new meaning to leadership. They are equally at ease in boardrooms as in kitchens of their homes Great women leaders of our times include Ms Golda Meyer, (First women PM of Israel), Mrs Indira Gandhi, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur(First Health Minister of India and member 0f Constitution committee) and many more.

Women leaders

Modern Day Marvels include Gertrude B.Elion, pioneer in cancer medication, won Nobel Prize in 1988 in medicine. Grace Hopper invented the computer programming language COBOL besides being an Admiral in US Army. Clara Barton founded the Red Cross which has helped millions of people around the world. Ms Srimovo Bandharnaike was prime minister of Srilanka in 1960, followed by Mrs Indira Gandhi who became the Prime Minister of India in 1966. They played an important role in shaping the future of our neighbouring countries.


5th November 2013 will remain an unforgettable date in India’s space history. This was the day when Mars Orbiter Mission(MOM) or Mangalyaan was launched into space by Indian Space Research organization (ISRO).It is also a date which none of the ISRO scientist is likely to forget. The MOM team was dominated by women space scientists and all three women including  Nandini Harinath,Project Manager,Mission design and Deputy Operations Director,Mars orbiter Mission, Seetha Somusundaram, the program Director of ISRO Space Research Program Office and Minal Rohit, Scientist and , Engineer Project manager, Methane Sensor for Mars. In the short film ‘Snapshots from Afar, these three eminent scientists talk excitedly about their experience. When the Mangalyaan was inserted into the Mars Orbit on September 24th, 2014, is a day they will never forget in their lives.Their lives and achievement have opened doors to give wings to dreams to many young girls who aspire to be space scientists.

There is no difference between decision making capabilities of men and women. Some are quick decision makers and some dilly dally. Women have tremendous staying powers and can bounce back from maternity leave, marriage, sickness etc.

Allegations that women use charm to go ahead ? There are some who do so, but they are few and far in between. They may appear confident and capable by dressing and talking well, but ultimately what matters is how you perform. Women in senior positions are great motivators, committed, responsible and dedicated. They bring intelligence, humility and knowledge to the table which is a good combination. Women have proven their mettle in every possible field, be it literature, science, education, entrepreneurship,politics, management and whatnot. Yet sadly they are still being denied their rightful place in the society and the world. We still face the scourges of rape, female foeticide, dowry deaths and what not. Even in the elite institutes where men and women work together, a female employee stands to lose her promotion if she avails of maternity leave.

In the words of great poet and Noble Laureate Sri Rabindra Nath Tagore “The future eve will lure the future Adam from the wilderness of a masculine dispensation and mingle her talents with those of her partner in a joint creation of a paradise of their own.”

Here is to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.


[1]State of women at workplace-Lean in

[2] NFHS 4 2015-2016