Celebrating women scientists, engineers, technologists, educators, analysts, innovators and problem solvers.
Women in STEM, like those in many other professions, have to work harder to establish themselves. Girls in classrooms ask fewer questions, which translates to less participation in workplaces: in fields where women are underrepresented, the problem is worse. We need to discover and shout about existing role models (loudly, as often as possible), as well as create and nurture them. Encouraging girls to question, explore, debunk assumptions, and more importantly, *rebel*, can help with creating a world in which women don’t have to struggle for credibility and credit. You and I can change the narrative 💪
Here’s wishing for a world without limits. In which we can walk the streets without having to carry with us a variety of self-defence mechanisms and tools (pepper spray, umbrellas, scarves, pen knives.. the list is endless), without having to be on high alert and think of what-ifs, without having constant anxiety. A world in which we don’t feel guilty for the choices we make, as women are so often wired to feel. A world in which we speak up more and are listened to. A world in which we aren’t stared at, objectified, restricted, ignored, subdued, marginalized, controlled, suppressed, groped, abused, manipulated and silenced.
Many women in India do not have access to menstrual management tools, and they resort to dirty rags, newspaper and even sand and ash as a result. Goonj works with women in some of the remotest parts of India, helping to divert material from cities to villages. Support their “Not just a piece of cloth” campaign, through which they provide affordable cloth pads. Know more: goonj.org/njpc
“According to the 2011 census, there are close to 15 million girls who are married before the legal age every year.”
Here’s an illustration in collaboration with CRY India – read and support what they do here. Help prevent child marriage!
Navratri is a 9-day Indian festival that involves the worship of the feminine spirit, power and divinity. Specific colours are symbolic of the rituals associated with each day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if India respected its women the way we worship our goddesses? Here is a 9-part series that aims to celebrate women through the 9 colours of Navratri. These are simple examples that probably capture a very very small percentage of the countless challenges that women face on a daily basis in our country.
Day 3: Today’s colour is grey. For women who’ve had to fight unimaginably hard battles and are still fighting for justice.
Day 4: Today’s colour is orange. For all the women (especially domestic helps) who work odd jobs and long hours to be able to support their families and afford their kids an education. I think we have a lot to learn from this country’s fiercely strong didis/akkas/bais.
In some parts of India, widows are isolated from society and abandoned by their families. Apart from wearing only white and being forbidden to participate in festivals, in extreme cases, widows are also to shave their heads and suffer psychological abuse. Last year, thousands of widowed women, who typically dress in white, gathered in Vrindavan to celebrate Holi, breaking a 400 year old taboo. While these traditions are changing in many parts of India, this comic is for all those women who’re still seeking acceptance, and more importantly, fighting for a life of dignity.
Day 8: Today’s colour is pink. Women everywhere think negative thoughts about themselves – I come across so many women who think they’re too fat, too thin, too short, too lanky — there is always something wrong. We try on a dress, and even if somebody tells us we look fabulous, we want to think otherwise. We seem to obsess when we look into the mirror. I’ve figured that the most amazing feeling in the world is to look into the mirror and see somebody who’s beautiful, confident and ready to take on the day. That in itself is most battles won 🙂
A story almost every woman in India has heard or experienced. I’ve heard this phrase – “I don’t have a choice” – from so many women when it comes to the topic of marriage. Societal and family pressure can be enormous. The issue is perhaps a lot more complex than shown here, and this depiction is an over-simplification, but I believe that making women realize that they have a voice, a choice, is the big step forward.
Being a woman is hard in any part of the world. In several countries, women simply don’t have the power to exercise their choice without facing cultural backlash at best and possible death at worst. But even in countries where women can make a choice without the (very real) fear of abuse/death/execution there is the fear of what people will say, of being rejected by society and your family, of treading a very lonely path.
Just imagine a world where women could wake up and make a choice fearlessly. The choice to make our own decisions, the choice to marry or reproduce or have a cat or climb a mountain or work from home or wear a miniskirt. The power to simply be. The freedom to live without fear, walk the streets without being armed with umbrellas and pepper sprays, the freedom to live without being judged.
A lot of women do succumb to pressure, it’s easy to give in. Ever so often, I hear an unhappy woman tell me, “But I don’t really have a choice.” I see women being pressurized into marriage in India: “I don’t really have a choice.” I hear of women giving up their careers because their in-laws don’t approve: “I don’t really have a choice.” I see women putting up with husbands who abuse them: “But I don’t really have a choice.” It’s like women are constantly living life in between the frying pan and the fire, trying to find middle ground, never quite allowing themselves (or being allowed) to live a life which is entirely theirs.
I am conscious of saying that we do have a choice comes from a place of privilege. Yes, we do have a choice. But I hope for a world in which we could exercise that choice while being completely unafraid, without worrying about who’s going to stare at me in my bikini, who’s going to judge me for my burkini, what if I wore a miniskirt, what if I divorced my husband, what if I didn’t have kids, what if chose to not be a homemaker. The list goes on. The world puts out a very narrow little box for women to fit into. I just hope we can be bigger than what the world wants us to be.