“I am a very ambitious person but at the same time, we can’t compare each other’s achievements. A sense of achievement is different for everyone. For instance, when I go to play on the court,  I didn’t plan to be No. 1 Tennis player. I just thought of becoming the best version of myself.” Sania Mirza on a session titled Women Shaping the Future moderator by our founder Shaili Chopra. Other panelists included director, producer Zoya Akhtar, actor Sonam Kapoor, business woman Schauna Chauhan and lawyer Karuna Nundy. These women, each successful in their own segment, talked honestly about their lives, their challenges, their most personal milestones and how they take the sisterhood forward.

Circle of Support

Sania Mirza elaborated on how she had to break multiple stereotypes to accomplish what she has in sports. She began her journey in early 2000s and at a time, many would discourage her from taking up a sport that would consume her life. “We have a long way to go when it comes to empowering our women and girls.”, she said. Sania believes that we talk about women empowerment extensively but we live still live in a men’s world. “We still have to explain why we should get as much prize money as men.”, she summed up.

She started playing tennis when she was six. “To be very honest, at a time when cricket is something everybody goes to, and girls are unheard of dream of becoming a sportswomen… things were different earlier in Hyderabad.” Sania talks of the kind of conversations did the rounds when she was trying to grow. “They would ask if I could be Martina Hingis one day, would she get dark practising in the sun, will she ever going to play Wimbledon etc, what if she turns into a tom boy. All this my parents had to stand up to. Today we can at least name ten sport superstars in India from PV Sindhu, Saina Nehwal to Sakshi Malik and more.”

“If I have made a change in atleast one girl’s life, I will feel very proud of myself” – Sania Mirza

Sonam Kapoor On Creating Her Own Opportunities

“I consider women intelligent, just as capable as men. When there weren’t roles offered to me which I thought respected me as a person, I thought I had to sit down and create them. I had to create opportunities for myself. How did I do that? Because of my upbringing. My father and mother have been very supportive of the choices I have made.” She adds that women need to struggle more to prove their talent in the film industry. “When I came into the industry, I wasn’t treated as an equal.” “I believe in keep doing what I love to do. Every girl should wake up in the morning and say that I am the best thing that happened to me,” she asserted.

“In cinema world, I was not treated as an equal but treated as a woman. But I realised it soon that women should not compromise.” – Sonam Kapoor

We all have the future generations, we should have responsibilities towards them said Sonam. “I have made mistakes, when I joined the film industry where I was conforming to what I thought would make successful. I realised as soon I conform, I face failure. Therefore I feel it’s important to make the harder choices and your own choices.”

Talking about sexism, Sonam explained that women can be the most sexist at times.” There are women who say that if a girl wears a certain kinds of clothes, she will have to bear the consequences. So, it is a mindset that needs to be changed. It is how we bring up our children

On growing up, I realised that the real world is not utopia because here I was treated as a woman, not as an equal. – Sonam Kapoor

Believe in what you do

Zoya Akhtar, the successful director behind Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Made in Heaven and Gully Boy, said that she makes movies which she would like to go and watch.

“I make movies because I absolutely love making them. I want to make movies I want to see. I want to communicate with the audiences through these films. Most of my work falls in the bracket of subcultures.” Sometimes the themes she picks are not popular but she believes in the need to push boundaries. “Trick is to take that and marry it to a language that can be put out there for people to see and accept it.”

Working with women-led teams

Schuana Chauhan, CEO of Parle Agro believes that when women together, they work as a team. “There is less competition. They are more open to listening to each other.”, she stressed. Schauna Chauhan and her sisters have together revived the position of Parle as a young brand and increased their business manifold.

Being unapologetic, Common to all

Advocate Karuna Nundy believes that she is unapologetic about her voice and opinions. Sania Mirza, on the other hand, took pride in the fact that she is a successful tennis player in a cricket dominated country and is unapologetic about it.

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