She Leads India is the country’s most impactful conference for women. A collaborative platform that featured some of the most powerful and diverse female experts in India. These dynamic women leveraged their experiences in the fields of politics, business, entrepreneurship and entertainment and discussed their approaches to thoughtful and effective leadership.

The conference opened with a candid and truthful discussion about the patriarchal structures that keep women from expressing themselves and therefore guarding their unique humour like it’s a “secret”. Acclaimed comic, and global sensation, Aditi Mittal shed light on the evolution of her comedy. She explains how it’s a deviation from the normative dialogues in comedy and most strikingly how it is simply rooted in the truth of her life as a woman living in a misogynistic world. She addresses internalized misogyny among women, and outlines that as the first step to empowering a female community to use their voice and opinion to express themselves. “I have been more of a misogynist than feminist for most of my life since we were so conditioned like that by society,” she says.

“I have been more of a misogynist than feminist for most of my life since we were so conditioned like that by society,” -Aditi Mittal

The conference also featured Sheila Dikshit, the longest-serving female chief minister in Delhi. A long-term member of the Indian Congress and a remarkable woman she has made strides towards a ‘Clean Delhi’ rallying for the government. She opened the session by giving herself credit for her own book something most women would be shy to do. “What inspired me to write this book was myself!”. She discusses her life in public service and how she navigated through male-dominated systems to achieve her goals for a clean Delhi. Under her regime Delhi was the first city in the entire country to distribute sanitary napkins to Indian girls.  “Women should be just as educated as boys are,” she said. On being asked about the plight of women’s safety in Delhi she explained the issue starts from home as does the solution. “When boys are born in a family, they have to be taught how to respect women, and must grow to take responsibility for the role they play in their social environment.”

Entrepreneurship Empowers

Entrepreneur turned author, Rashmi Bansal lent some perspective on how entrepreneurship has empowered women for many centuries. That women are self employed- as vegetable sellers, designers, handicrafts producers. It’s the ‘scalability of their business that’s in question along with their motivations to pursue their passions as a long-term career as opposed to just a job. Devika Shrimal of Kanabis said women needed to embrace business as a way to push boundaries.

Shivani Malik discussed what leads to smart business decisions explains being aware of markets and national and international trends helps one enter the market at the night time and set up a base for their business.

The Voice of Women

This was focussed on the #TimeIsNow hashtag by UN Women. Founder of an artist collective, Ihitashri Shandilya said the sisterhood mattered. “We must begin by giving the women around us credit.” In the context or art and culture she explains that it is women who have been the “flag-bearers” of traditional art forms and while we might consume their products we are entirely unaware of their names and identities.

“We must begin by giving the women around us credit.” -Ihitashri Shandilya

Priyanka C Raina of Gracia Raina foundation talked of the work her efforts had rolled out. She put the spotlight on an issue that most of us ignore – the concept of financial abuse. A form of abuse she says is associated with being financially dependent.

Nishtha Satyam of UN Women summed it up well by adding, “financial abuse is an attack on our finances and financial choices”, the further explained that women are considered “pathological consumers” and are shamed for their choices.

She also explains that “Women standing up for other women is essential and the most important network”. This is important because women invariably get paid less for the same work as men. They also fear backlash for asking for high pay. “It’s high time we adopt a the correct approach to this problem” she explains women needn’t feel grateful or apologetic for getting maternity leave.

Also Read: Women Have To Rise Up: Sheila Dixit At SheLeads

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