Sisterhood, Economic Independence And Healthcare For Women: Shaili Chopra At ICC IWN

"Sometimes we all need a nudge from the person next to us, which is why I talk about sisterhood. We need to be able to give each other that little extra push," said Shaili Chopra Session at the latest edition ICC IWN

Kalyani Ganesan
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Shaili Chopra At ICC IWN
The southern region of the Confederation of Indian Industry’s Indian Women Network (CII IWN) organised its 4th edition of the IWN Leadership Conclave on February 23 and 24 at the Hotel Westin, Chennai. The Leadership Conclave, called "Say Yes," is theme-based, and this year’s conference is dedicated to the concept of "Advancing Women for a Sustainable Tomorrow."

The broader theme of the conclave is integrating women into the economic ecosystem. It also handles various sub-themes, including leadership, development, mental well-being, and networking.

Shaili Chopra, founder of SheThePeople and Gytree, spoke on "Spotlight: A League of Her Own." During her session at the ICC IWN, she discussed the importance of economic independence, sisterhood, and health care for women.

When talking about women's empowerment, we definitely need to talk about the economic independence of women, and that is what Shaili Chopra begins her session with—her fifth and latest book, "Sisterhood Economy: By and For Women" looks at the needs of women and what enables their empowerment as a community in the social context of India.

Shaili Chopra At ICC IWN

Chopra revealed that the idea of a "Sisterhood Economy" came from an interview with Warren Buffet, in which he said that the biggest success story outside of monetary investment for him is the backing of his wife. That made Chopra realise that people only knew Warren Buffet and not his wife, who is his support system. Hence, society must know why women matter, what they contribute, and whether they are working in an office or at home.

Talking to women, she realised that women around us have fascinating stories to share about being "married off." So a lot of them were opting to pursue higher education just to postpone marriage because with marriage come other demands like having a child, and once we have a child, we need to have a male child.


One of the titles of the chapters of her book reads, "The Curse of the Saasu Maa," which talks about the conventionally perceived bitter relationship between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law. "We have been raised to believe that our mothers are the best and our mothers-in-law are the worst. I’m a big proponent of recognising how much great work mothers-in-law do and how important it is for us to recognise the concept of a bad mom," said Chopra. She went on to say that becoming a better mother was one of her top priorities, not because motherhood is the most important thing but to "fix the way we raise children in our country."

Another chapter on "Single and Rocking It" features a 55-year-old woman saying that she chose to be single because her first priority was to look after her mother and her dog. Besides, after witnessing all of her family's older women marry, her one-sentence definition of marriage was "pass me the salt." Chopra said, "She literally said that since this was the level of conversation between most couples, she kept thinking that do we really want companions for the sake of companionship, or is it perhaps nice to find yourself companions beyond passing the salt and not necessarily give it a name like marriage or whatever it is?"

Talking about how Gytree was conceived, Chopra said, "SheThePeople has gone from being a 4 million to a billion reach now, and that is only because we have extremely edgy conversations that families would feel uncomfortable having with their daughters. Gytree was basically an idea that was born out of SheThePeople."

Gytree helps women prioritise their primary health care. Women today are wondering where they should go with their health. They are actually devoting time to determining where they should engage and how they can ensure they reach a doctor much faster and earlier.

Gytree is an anonymous and judgement-free platform that is rebuilding the standard of female health care in India. "Women come to us and say I have a daughter, but I don’t want to talk to her about certain things; will Gytree take care of this?"

Women need to put themselves first and not shy away from the fact that we deserve our own space in the sun, and the only way to do it is to make that space for themselves.


Many of us might think that women in cities are empowered and believe that we need to carry the story to rural India. "I say that is the biggest misnomer. We think that all of us have been empowered the way we want to be empowered, but we have not. The larger issue of how women are treated is in the thick of south Mumbai, south Delhi, and south Chennai. Most women are without rights in rich households." Chopra explained that the challenge in rural India is completely different and that it’s a challenge of education and not a lack of agency.

Women don’t need anyone to empower them; we haven’t given anyone that right. Sisterhood plays a pivotal role in women's empowerment. "Sometimes we all need a nudge from the person next to us, which is why I talk about sisterhood. We need to be able to give each other that little extra push." The patriarchal system plays games with the lack of sisterhood among women.

They say that women are women’s worst enemies, and we, unfortunately, fall for this everywhere—at home and at work. "The minute we break that, there is so much power in the ability of women to support other women.

When Kiran Mazumdar Shaw backed Gytree, she said that in the next seven years, more women would back each other and make things that women needed to have."

We all should push ourselves to remember that the sister next to you needs your help. We need men as champions, and we need women as role models. "Please make that happen for yourselves, provided you tell yourself that you’re just as much of a role model. Don’t wait for a designation to arrive at your table to make you feel that you’re a role model" said Chopra.


Suggested Reading: Why Being Female And Political Intersects When We Talk About Healthcare


shaili chopra ICC IWN Shaili Chopra At ICC IWN