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Progression With Freedom - Fierce Leaders Sharing Stories, Views And Anecdotes On #Breakthebias

This article was also published in Outlook India

To those who think this is yet another feminist article, I would say yes, but if you believe this is only a feminist article, let me surprise you. For years we've been debating on a radical idea of what feminism is, but that's what it is, a radical vision of a woman's morality not being her only job. Time and again, when I have voiced my opinion on 'feminism', my peers have confused it with "ignorance about men", but what I actually wanted to reflect is on maintaining the political, social, economic equality we have been fortunate enough to throw light and implement upon in most parts of society.

Talking about equality in the 21st century may still seem anachronous to a lot. Indeed we have progressed with time and earned our freedom which seemed a far off thought earlier. Yet, there still exist matters that need to be discussed. Since every conscious effort counts as an initiative to achieve a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world this women's day, we grabbed the opportunity to steer a conversation with a few eminent influential personalities from UK, India and Australia. We discussed their views on Progression with Freedom and were delighted to hear their stories on matters they felt needed to be addressed.

Talking about the ability to change, Isobell Cowell, Founder of Dear Future Marketer, says, "If I could change one thing, it would be to have more people understand that a bias does exist and that way it would be easier to address and make changes." One out of many things that she thinks is needed to change is the ability of female leaders to lead and make difficult decisions. Also, removing words like "Sheo" from our vocabulary, she is just a 'CEO'."

Discussing the obstacles female entrepreneurs face during their business journey, we got an opportunity to hear the stories of Amanda Baker, founder & creator of 5 Stories. According to Amanda, "One obstacle that every female entrepreneur might face at some point in her business journey is "Hands down, imposter syndrome. She's that annoying voice that says things like, "You're not good enough. You haven't got what it takes. You're not tough enough." And she loves to make you compare yourself to others. When she shows up, I politely say this. "Thank you for giving me the opportunity to say this to you. I am worthy and I belong here." Honestly, I can completely resonate with this.

Yasemin Akyol Basar, freelance journalist from Australia, believes that the terminology used to differentiate men and women in the workforce empowers gender parity. Yasemin says, "Bossy vs assertive, emotional vs passionate, ambitious vs greedy. We cannot say we have achieved parity until there is a parity in terminology. Young female leaders are judged to a higher standard than their male colleagues. A young female leader climbing the corporate ladder is assumed to have broken many hearts along the way. Assumptions made and words used matter." When we talked to Yasemin about how is the corporate industry changing its policies to provide equal opportunity and employability for genderqueer people? She replied," Social attitudes toward LGBTQi+ community and a person's sexuality continue to be fed by bias. This is especially true for trans people. Concerning genderqueer people, the corporate industry lags even further.' According to Yasemin, 'There need to be further punitive measures, and educational campaigns as passing laws is not enough. We all should ensure they are implemented, as well.`

Various elements need to be addressed regarding gender bias issues and breaking stereotypes in this generation.

When we asked Jules Brooke, Founder - Handle Your Own PR, and She's The Boss (Australia) concerning this, she said, "I think the most important things are to close the pay gap so that women and men are paid equally for the same job. I also think every corporation must have an equal number of men and women on their boards if we are to truly change things."

Women globally have evinced the relentless vigour of women in power. Sheryl Sandberg – COO of Facebook, a 52-year old American, forged her way to success in the corporate world when things were not that easy. We have witnessed several robust, intelligent and inspirational women pioneers who have stood for women's rights while also defining the worlds of science, mathematics, aviation, and literature as an inventor, scientists, and leaders. My recent inspiration has been Malala Yousafzai, who advocates women's rights to education. It may sound basic, but it is rudimentary in empowering women.

We had the honour of having a conversation with Naaz Joshi, Miss World Diversity 2017, 2018, 2019, Miss Universe Diversity 2020 and Miss Trans Queen India 2018, on what aspects of this year's theme of International Women's Day, #breakthebias, still needs to be addressed in breaking stereotypes and gender bias issues even in this generation? To this, she responded, "I am thrilled that this year the theme is #breakthebias. Before I speak about transgender discrimination or transphobia, some people do not prefer to have a girl child as female foeticide, and infanticide is highest in India. I believe when the state of women in India is still so regressive, when will we, the trans women, be able to stall tall and talk about our rights?"

Citing some of her personal experiences, Naaz shares a few anecdotes," If I have to pick one thing that is still there in this generation is the right to equality. No matter how big a celebrity from the trans community I am, people still look at me with raised brows. People in my country don't want to call me a celebrity because I belong to a marginalised community known for begging, clapping and prostitution, and people want to see me at that place only. I am not a gimmick, so pls don't use me to show that you are doing it for me or to show the world you care when my very existence is a taboo for society."

We have come a long way, yet we still have a long way to go. Only through tiny steps like encouraging individuals to promote gender-equal workplaces, boardrooms, government, workplaces, sports, health and wealth can we achieve a gender-equal world, free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination based on gender. A more diverse, equitable, and inclusive world, where difference is valued and celebrated, because together, we can forge egalitarianism, and collectively, we can all #BreakTheBias.


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