THE two-day Loksatta Conclave, Badalta Maharashtra, started here Wednesday to commemorate the International Women’s Day.
The first day saw women speakers from diverse fields — government, police, education, film, social organisations and politics — take the centre stage to share their personal experience and recount the initial hurdles faced in the workplace.
Speakers felt women might have had to fight a relentless battle to reaffirm their independent identity, but things were changing now with the society in general accepting the immense contribution made by them in every walk of life. The speakers also batted for women’s reservation, saying it would enable them to get themselves heard. They said what mattered most at the end was the ability to pursue work unfazed, overriding the odds to get to their respective goals.
The conclave was entirely dedicated to women participants who said Maharashtra, with its progressive outlook, was better placed compared to other states when it came to gender parity.
Principal Secretary, Urban Development, Manisha Mhaiskar said, “While it is true that often doubts are raised on whether a particular task can be handled by a woman employee, once proved, the same administration and officials encourage and repose their support in you.” Speaking on the occasion, Vasudha Kamat, Vice-Chancellor of SNDT Women’s University, observed, “I feel…it’s time women are given greater responsibility to shoulder. Let her prove her merit. Often in the male-dominated society, decisions and doubts are expressed without giving an opportunity.”
Former mayor Shubha Raul said women had had to face many problems to prove themselves and gain acceptability at the workplace. “The only way ahead is to keep working and be firm,” she said.
The participants touched upon multiple aspects that come in way of women who have to strike a balance between home and workplace, and handle the pressures from the society. Yet, majority believed, there was no short cut.
Well known actor Mukta Barwe said, “Today, society is accepting women who are ready to fight and prove themselves. Compared to other states, Maharashtra with its progressive outlook is the place for women.”
Noorjehan Safiya Nijah of Bharatiya Mahila Andolan said the organisation was formed to raise the issues and voice of Muslim women. “Today, we have 70,000 members and our work extends to 13 states,” she said.
Taking up the job of a firefighter was met with reservation as many wondered what could she do in the department at ONGC. Yet, Harshini Kanhekar struck to her dream. “From college admission to taking up the responsibility as an officer, there were many challenges but I ensured not a single mistake is made as it would dent the image of women,” she said.