SheMentors

Feature Video: Let girls play again, make public spaces safe

Feature Video: Let girls play again, make public spaces safe

If you visit the park near where you live on a regular evening, there would be some instantly observable patterns. While you might find boys of all age groups going wild, you would mostly see pre-pubescent girls, limited to a corner in the park. It is somewhat like a social symbolism of where our women presently stand, in terms of the unspoken hierarchy.

WATCH THIS: GIRLS WANT TO PLAY AGAIN

On the closing afternoon of the Anti-Street Harassment awareness week, a bunch of both pre and post pubescent girls from the community settlement of Bandra plot in Mumbai came together to play at a nearby public park, as a symbol of them making their rightful claim to these spaces, something that women are implicitly inhibited from doing. Anu Salelkar and Ridhima, are two enthusiastic young women who work with Safecity, and helped organize this little initiative of the girls. Describing the context of the girls, Anu tells us:

“The community developed after the 1992 riots. A lot of Muslim families relocated here. Not all the girls come from families affected by the riots, but it’s a majority Muslim community here.”

Girls Play Kabaddi

Girls Play Kabaddi

The problems with the claim:

Getting girls out of their homes is not that easy all the time. Anu says, “A lot of times parents don’t send their children out. There are also a lot of structural issues why girls are not allowed, like spaces inaccessible, lighting is an issue. Sometimes the area itself is unsafe, because of certain things. Some spaces that are accessible during the day become inaccessible for girls post dark, mostly because of men hanging out there or lack of proper lights. A lot of times, the fact that sexual harassment gets blamed on to the girl stops the girl from actually going out, because they want to go through the entire mess.”

Also Watch: Using Tech To Make Spaces Safe for Women

Most girls who hit menarche turn shy and more reluctant to playing in the fields, especially when boys are watching. Parents are deeply indoctrinated to encourage such behavior, which becomes the trigger point of women slipping into oblivion. Most of the girls also don’t play beyond their school hours (that is if they haven’t dropped out) because they are expected to help in domestic chores, like filling up water and tending to the younger siblings.

“We need to change mindsets, which is a long and hard process. At least what we can do is get the ball rolling”, says Anu.

One of the girls, Khushi (name changed) tells us, “Moving in groups serves as a great source of confidence in movement and claiming access.”

Unsafe v/s perceived to be unsafe

There are both perceived and actually unsafe spaces. Anu shares her knowledge from conducting and attending numerous workshops and discussing experiences of women with street harassment. She tells us that the perception that a space is unsafe comes from the fact if there is a bunch of men hanging out in the vicinity. “It might not mean that the guy is actually harassing you, but a bunch of men generally become an unsafe area. Because A, women are taught from a very young age that a group of men are dangerous, Or B, their own past experiences.”

Mini Exchange’s Sarah Jones has 5 tips for startups wanting raise funds

Mini Exchange’s Sarah Jones has 5 tips for startups wanting raise funds

Sarah Jones of Mini Exchange has just raised over $1 mn in seed funding in the UAE for her online clothing business for children and mums. She shares five tips for startups raising money in this region. From a mere 500 items at the start of 2014 to an offering of over 30,000 items from more than 250 international brands, the company has grown rapidly due to effective marketing campaigns and active social media presence. In January 2015, Mini Exchange was selected as the GCC-based start-up for the 10th edition of the US-hosted Google Blackbox Connect programme, which Sarah attended in Silicon Valley.

1.    Start fundraising early

Fundraising takes longer than you think and you don’t want to get to a stage where you’re desperate for cash. Prepare early, take your time and do panic if it doesn’t happen in the first two months.

2.    Never give up.

Fundraising is not easy. It takes time to prepare for it. It takes time meet potential investors, to build relationships with potential investors. There are lots of ups and downs, lots of positive conversations and also people that turn you down. Don’t be disheartened and keep going. If you have a good product you will find the right people to invest in your business.

3.    Have a great pitch deck

The way you present your company is key. Investors want to see that you’ve taken time in your pitch deck. Don’t underestimate the power of first impressions.

For the same reason good design matters for your product, it matters for your presentation. Investors are just as impressionable as your average consumer. Pretty slides send a signal that you know how to build a good product.
4.    Find the right investors

There is a lot of money out there but in my opinion it’s key to find the right money. The right people to back your business, to support you. As one of my lead investors said to me once – “It’s lonely at the top, we’re here to help you”. You need people that recognise that it’s not all plain sailing, that there will be ups and downs and bumps in the road. Get the right backers from day one that will support you, add value, and understand that.

5.    Be gracious when someone says “no”.

It can be frustrating to hear “no”.

You’ll probably hear “no” more often than you’ll hear “yes” throughout your fundraising process and as tempting as it is to turn your back to an investor that rejects you, you have a lot more to gain by being gracious. Because this is almost certainly not the last round of funding you’re going to raise, or the last startup you’re going to do.

Why Maya Angelou inspires us all

Why Maya Angelou inspires us all

 

1. SHE HAD IT ALL!

She was victim to all sorts of oppression and marginalization – from racism to childhood sexual abuse from her mother’s boyfriend. She also worked as a commercial sex- worker and bar dancer, which introduced her to the worst form of stigma one can ever face. She was a black woman who lived off the streets and traded her art for survival, practically all her life.

 

2. WHAT IT DID TO HER:

She still had the strength to stand up, fight back, and challenge the structures of the system. She was an active part of the African- American Civil Rights Movement, where she worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

 

3. WHEN SOMETHING TROUBLED HER:

She inspired the world to pick the battles they believe in. If something affects you, do something to change it! This is your life. Do it! Change the world. She was a strong believer of the Gandhian principles and said that we cannot wish bad for others, but we need to protect ourselves, for which we need to stand up to our choices. Say NO when it’s NO!!

 

4. ON FRIENDSHIP:

She knew the best recipe to have friends. She believed that in order to have a friend, one must be a friend.

 

5. HER SENSE OF SELF:

She had so many names. From Marguerite Annie Johnson to Mya, what her elder brother fondly called her, to Rita- the Calypso dancer, to Maya Angelou, as we will always know and remember her, she retained an identity that was intrinsic to her existence. It evolved over the years. She didn’t associate anybody’s identity with their name, where they came from or what class they belonged to. She didn’t other people and that’s what kept her and the world around her so bright.

Feature Pic Credit: CT Counselling

6. WAY OF LIFE:

Passion drove her. To quote her own words, “passion, compassion, humor and style”. Her passion was not for her work or art or literature or poetry. Rather, Maya Angelou was passionate about every moment that she lived. She felt it, and hence could take the best out of it. She was a great writer, one of the most popular calypso artists, also her poetry came to be known as the anthem of African Americans.

 

7. ON KARMA:

She spoke about feelings and emotions and the energy that we create around us. Her simple words are a reminder how all that we do or say translates into making someone feel a certain way, and that to make-feel good is what we should direct all our actions towards, if we are to live in happiness and peace.

 Maya_Angelou


8. WHAT SHE TAUGHT US:

She taught the world to accept the beauty in all the diversity that has made up this world. She explained to the world that how every person is a sum total of his/ her own experiences, ‘of everything she has ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot’. It can never be the same way for all of us. We are all bound to respond to the same situation in a zillion different ways.

 

9. ONE FOR THE WOMEN!

She translated all her negative experiences as a young girl into building inspiring literature and music for women. She gave the women of the 80’s the strength to be empowered to claim their space in the public sphere, to claim the right to be heard; in a male dominated society where men controlled the poetry and hip-hop culture of the time.

 

10.WRITING STYLE:

Her unapologetic, highly opinionated, fierceangelouS7 writing style and its popularity is reassurance to people that silences can and must be broken. She presents the painful realities of the world in quite a subtle and yet honest manner. What her career also tells us is that you can make various different choices in life, you will end up in greatness if you ‘love what you do and are willing to make sacrifices for it’.

Facebook to hire thousand more, says COO Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook to hire thousand more, says COO Sheryl Sandberg

Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg is a marvellous asset to the company. Sandberg, who had earlier built her business unit at Google from four to 4000 employees, is now set to build Facebook’s employees size as well. In a new development in Facebook, Sandberg is all set to hire thousands of more employees in the company. She reasons that it is necessary to keep up with the rapid growth and Facebook is growing too quickly.

“You should always have several people who could succeed you—and then several people who can succeed them—so that you’re prepared for future challenges,” said Sandberg to Stacy Brown-Philpot, ex-colleague at Google, as stated in Fortune.

Stacy Brown-Philpot, who is now a CEO at Taskrabbit, was earlier working at Google with Sandberg, shared her incident.

“Sandberg used to press upon her the importance of lining up successors for herself way in advance of promotions. “How can you go on without having someone in place who can do your job?” Sandberg asked Brown-Philpot when they worked together at Google,” as reported by Fortune.

When Sandberg started out at Facebook, a small start-up then, after quitting the most desirable job at Google, it had only 550 employees. She has applied her skill learnt at Google to increase Facebook’s number of employees to 11,000.

Sandberg hasn’t taken any interviews since her Husband, Dave Sandberg’s death; however, this is the first time after that that she has come out in public to announce something.

The COO of Facebook has already been known progressive in her thinking since the time she came to Facebook.

Picture Credit- Adweek

Starbucks’ Avani Davda on how inspiration fires you up

Starbucks’ Avani Davda on how inspiration fires you up

It is two-and-a-half years since Avani Davda took on the top job at Tata Starbucks. She was mentored at Bombay House before being handpicked into a leadership role when Tatas partnered Starbucks in 2011. Davda worked on the project right from scratch at Starbucks’ headquarters in Seattle before Starbucks opened its first store in India in October of 2012.

Avani credits her success to the people who inspired her – from family to the folks at the Tata Group. She asserts inspiration is a big factor in leadership and for her, that’s what enriches the learning curve.

Check Out: It’s Her Business for more interviews

Feature Image Credit: Business Today 

When I Was 25: Kalpana Morparia looks back

When I Was 25: Kalpana Morparia looks back

She never wanted to be a banker. She just wanted to sit at home, shop and have children. Lots of children. Kalpana Morparia’s story is rather unique as she went from being nearly non-ambitious to the country’s top female banking star. In this video she shared what was going on in her mind in their 20s.

 

Feminism cannot be about rhetoric & male-bashing says Rana Ayyub

Feminism cannot be about rhetoric & male-bashing says Rana Ayyub

Feminism in India is a skewed concept says eminent journalist Rana Ayyub. It’s not about male-bashing or rhetoric on twitter. ‘To me it’s about making women more aware of their rights she avers. There are enough men who are feminists and taking them along our journey is very much within the concept and definition of feminism.

Do women make good bosses?

Do women make good bosses?

 

Do women make good bosses? Or do they come in the way of women rising to the top? This debate has been central to the one on gender diversity. On shethepeople.tv, there have been several discussions on the need for women to aspire for their own sake. For women to hunger for ambition no matter what that end goal is (motherhood to workaholic). Mahindra Holidays CMO, Deepali Naair dispels some assumptions and shares her experiences have been fantastic working for women, and with women.

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