Happy International Women’s Day Every Day!

Why celebrate womanhood once a year when we live it every day? To all who thought I would come out with a hell of a story of my struggle and hardships to build a successful corporate career- bummer, I have no sob story. Disappointed? But that’s the whole point! Just because I did not hit a glass ceiling, my story doesn’t become less impressive.

Struggles are not with the world outside alone; they are internal too, within yourselves. We have blamed men who historically dominated workplaces enough because they chose to work, and we were forced to be homemakers. We do not wish to be equals, we always have been equal and beyond. Now, what we deserve and is our right to be seen and treated as equal. To reach there, I have my 5-point mantra:

1. EQ wherever you go! Use your high EQ level to your advantage at workplaces and everywhere else (be a similar manager for all roles you play).

2. Build a door of opportunities; don’t wait for the knock. Often, we feel we’re being watched and there shall come a right time when we will get our due. Well, every time is the right time. Look for opportunities, take them up and like every other thing, you will figure a way out and be successful. Get a job and make learning an enriching experience.

3. Stop feeling guilty! One of the most critical setbacks you have is if you have a taxing, high in the career graph job, you miss out on many other smaller yet essential things. Like I always missed the mid-week tea parties in my child’ kindergarten. I pondered, and I asked the school management why only on weekdays? They said, well, mam, no other mother has challenged ever. To my surprise, all the mothers in that batch of 28 kids were homemakers. Was I the black sheep? No, they understood me, and thereon we always had Saturday morning tea parties. What did I see there? Those mothers took me as a role model and they wanted to know everything I did to ensure I work flawlessly while handling multiple other roles like being a mom, wife and daughter in law. The answer was within, if there is a will, there is a way!

4. Honesty and transparency- I have no words to express how emphatic my male bosses/colleagues have been. That’s probably the reason why I give my 200% to the organisation. You handle multiple roles and sometimes are the troubleshooter for numerous people. As long as you have a soundboard to hear you out and sometimes to just reassure you that you are right and are valued, you will overcome that mood swing. I have a recent example, small but extremely considerate. It was that time of the month where stomach cramps made me numb, and I was part of an important meeting. My male colleague asked me if I was ok, and I chose to tell the truth that I have my period pains. In the next few minutes, he wrapped up the meeting and said that the discussion could wait. Now think of this – How many of us would have chosen to tell this in the first place? But see, when I did, I saw accommodation coming my way.

5. Settle for nothing but the best- I can only speak for myself but I have a question – Did you start your career dreaming of being the head of the department? CEO? I confess I did not. I was brought up in a conservative Gujarati family where women being allowed to work after marriage was also an achievement. I did not rebel; I have been plain lucky to find the right partner, in-laws, and all through – bosses who believed in me and gave me the opportunity, empowered me and motivated me to keep going.

And there is no looking back since. Fifteen years into the field of branding and communications, working round the clock, at odd hours, sometimes on holidays (even dismissing a few to handle crisis), but here I am, standing strong and thinking what next?

Thank you, my heroes!

I am for what I am but more importantly for what you believe I’m capable of. This International Women’s Day, make it special by celebrating womanhood every day

#choosetochallenge gender inequality

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Sonal Panchal Shah

Sonal Panchal Shah

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An adventurous professional, an imperfectly perfect mom or a WooMAN with special interests! I live life at the mercy of words-it pays my bills after all:)