As someone who started her career in advertising and a goal to be an A list Ad agency creative director, running an online mommy community is as different an experience as you could possibly ask for!  Then again, it’s not that different, once you go deeper.

As someone who has always been interested in human behaviour, society, feminism, advertising and media I am always observant on what’s happening in my space and also how the media portrays women especially mothers in general. Seeing 2016 through this prism, a mixed bag is probably the best description.

1)      Advertising – It takes 2

Kicking off with my favourite topic – Advertising.  I’m pleasantly surprised to see many more brands steering towards equal parenting and ‘share the load’ ideas in their ads. While most Indian brands perpetuate the perfect mom and stress her out with her  ‘Taiyaari Jeet Ki’ 2016 saw a few brands breaking out of this mold by promoting the idea that it takes 2 to parent. It’s a monumental task in our country to make this shift but ‘baby’ steps are being taken. Here’s to many more diaper dads and laptop moms. Let’s have more dads doing homework and more moms enjoying motherhood for the wonderful thing it is rather an the high performance sport it’s become over the years.

Motherhood in India

2)      ‘Getting em’ back to work

Several initiatives and platforms worked to move the needle on getting moms back to work. The maternity benefits bill passed in August this year extending paid maternity leave from 12 to 26 weeks should help this big time. While there’s always a slip between cup and lip in terms of universal implementation, an FMC survey that saw over 1000 moms participate felt that it’s not only important to give these women maternity leave but also the chances of women getting back to work post motherhood will be greatly helped if companies had daycare in their premises because poor child care facilities and the guilt that leaving their kids in less than ideal childcare facilities are still the number one reason why most mothers don’t get back to work .

3)      It’s all about money, honey !

Demonetisation hit everybody but some of the silent sufferers were the moms who live in difficult marriages and troubled households where they have been saving money as the only means of security. Years of fiscal prudence keeping their savings away from the ‘family’ eye were dealt a blow with having to ‘declare’ these making them somewhat useless even though they were exchanged. Many of us on FMC were taken aback to hear stories of fellow members having saved lakhs (one of them have 15 lakhs saved!) that had to be disclosed to their husbands and in-laws !

Ruchita Dar Shah of First Moms Club

4)      Celebrity pregnancies still drive the media nuts

Once again Indian media went totally crazy about an actress becoming pregnant and working and going about doing brand endorsements. It’s almost like the first time some women has got pregnant and decided to step out . Well guess the same journalists don’t see enough pregnant women taking the local trains in Mumbai and travelling to work till their 40th week. Unfortunately, the same people going all goo- goo-ga-ga about the preggy actress and her baby glow are gonna pan her for her post-partum fat.

5)      Digital India is definitely working for us !

Last, but definitely not the least would be the rise of the digital queens and mommy –re-booteds’ among us. There is a growing tribe of women entrepreneurs thanks to the digital revolution including yours truly. The digital world is truly gender agnostic. Access to the digital world is only helping us moms get empowered and bridging the gap and find our voices.  Moms today are finding alternate careers as bloggers, content writers, social media partners. I know of several start ups including a few where I’m helping in an advisory capacity that are being started by moms who took a break during which they found market gaps & problems that needed solving and are creating ventures to address them. Digital fluency is helping moms get back to their career either full time or flexi and at the same time take care of their children and feel less guilty .

Most digital women entrepreneurs start from home and continue doing so for many years . More than work life balance it’s work life integration that has happened thanks to digital.

To 2017 and beyond !

Everyday women and mothers and their stories are being celebrated on platforms like Shethepeople. Women have always been strong , multi-taskers and natural entrepreneurs but now thanks to the digital revolution , many more people are hearing about and getting inspired by them. To end, I quote Shakespeare (with my own little naughty twist),

There is a tide in the affairs of (wo)men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

Moms, our time is now!