In our busy urban lives, we seldom sign up for things which are not “work” and when such a rare opportunity comes by, it can be a very humbling experience. Recently, I had a similar experience at the Vital Voices Mentoring Walk. It is at opportunities like these that you realize that a smile can be such an ice breaker. A day before the International Women’s Day around 30 mentors and as many mentees met to begin their mentoring journeys. There were a lot of apprehensions on both sides, but what was most electric about this get-together was the confidence and clear-sightedness the mentees had about what they wanted to do with their lives. The mostly teenaged mentees were from the underprivileged sections of the society, however, they were very clear with what they wanted to achieve in life. They were not shy to ask questions, they didn’t look for validations from us, they just wanted to know how to reach their goal. This revelation was a happy surprise for many of the mentors, including me.
My mentee wants to be a banker, and she believes she can do it, she is even sure that her parents will support her in this decision despite the financial constraints but is worried about walking on this uncharted territory as no one she knows has achieved what she wants to. I tried to give her the confidence that all of us have to take a chance on ourselves at some point.
The mentees were not shy to ask questions, they didn’t look for validations from us, they just wanted to know how to reach their goal. This revelation was a happy surprise for many of the mentors.
Though, this was just the beginning of my mentoring journey but when you are in a room full of women the energy is palpable. The same opinion was shared by Prathima Manohar of Urban Vision, says she, “There is really nothing more empowering and inspiring than a group that empathizes with each other and comes together to learn and grow from each other. We need to nurture this network of sisterhood and mobilize each other to recognize our inherent value, celebrate our skills, abilities and leadership. These efforts are ultimately about ensuring that women in future have equal access to tables at the highest levels of decision-making.”
Mentorship can provide a valuable lesson to both mentor and mentee. Another mentor, Chaitaly Mehta of EKF Global Logistics Pvt Ltd says, “I think every person regardless of their sex requires mentoring at some stage or the other some of us are lucky to get it at different stages of life some of us don’t get it at all. The girls are very determined to make something of themselves, they are very clear-sighted and all of them want to do well in life. As a mentor, it is a challenge for you because you have to dig deep in to find answers.”
When you are a teenager and figuring out your way through a plethora of things, like body image, self-esteem and peer pressure making a career choice may not be easy. Some guidance can make this journey easier and peer to peer mentoring can play a crucial role here. Dimple Sopher who is a fitness expert and is a mentor to a young girl who wants to be a gym instructor, says, “Personal experiences that you can share helps big time as personal experiences are not bookish, they talk about how you can get out of tricky positions.”
It’s never too late for women to seek mentorship to help boost their career, which is a thought a lot of the mentors shared. Sunita Wazir of Hindustan Unilever says, “Mentoring relationship should be gender agnostic, we need mentors at all stages, in our 20s we all have doubts and are happy to talk to somebody without being judged but in 30s when we know our strengths and really care about somebody sharing their experiences.” She believes, mentoring is a new liberation for women.
Women mentoring women plays a crucial role in enhancing your career, especially in a largely male-dominated world, where women are always fighting to break the glass ceiling. A mentor can help you course-correct as she can be your go-to person in times of hardship. Knowing that someone else went through the same challenges as you are doing right now can help continue through difficult phases.
A mentor can help you course-correct as she can be your go-to person in times of hardship. Knowing that someone else went through the same challenges as you are doing right now can help continue through difficult phases.
We need to continue this sisterhood, there is no other way to make ourselves heard loud and clear. And this is summed up wonderfully by Kiran Manral, Ideas Editor of SheThePeople.TV and a mentor at the event. She says, “The world has always had the old boy’s network. It has been deeply entrenched, exclusively male, a precursor to the glass ceiling women encounter to reach positions of power. It’s high time we had in place the sisterhood for women in the workplace. To connect, to advise, to guide, to be a strong wall of support.”