Men’s take on Women’s Day – Sanjay Mukherjee

Here’s an inspirational take on women by a man, who shares how their role as a mother, wife, sister and a friend is an entity so strong that can raise generations and create solid foundations for the future.
The Lifestyle Portal in conversation with Sanjay Mukherjee, a Pune based Learning Consultant, Business Consultant, and an Independent Journalist by profession. He is also the Founder of The Mountain Walker, RedstoneSummerhill and Chief Strategy Advisor for Peak Pacific. He shares with us about what he thinks about Women’s Day in the modern world.

Sanjay Mukherjee, Pune

Thoughts on Women and Women’s Day

We began by asking Sanjay whether it is important to celebrate Women’s Day, he replied, “I think it is important to do whatever it takes to improve the quality of life every single day. Celebrating a specific day is good so long as it does not end up being just that day or week. If we are all focused on respectful behaviour as a matter of daily habit, then that’s a great cause for celebration.”

Giving his views on the role of women in his life, Sanjay says, “I look at people as people – not as men or women. And as such, men and women have both influenced my life and learning and behaviour in different spheres of life. Having said that, I grew up in Mumbai with a lot of women around me (sisters, cousins, family friends, aunts, friends, their friends) and it wasn’t until I travelled out of Mumbai in my late 20s, that I realised that in the rest of the country (and the world at large), women and men are kind of segregated in society. I have many great friends, people I can share and say anything to and vice-a-versa, and if I have to give you a statistic, I’d say 70% of my friends and influences are women.”

Well, according to Sanjay, most societies, laws, power structures, opportunities and even languages are already pretty male-oriented and it is an event like Women’s Day that tries to address this imbalance in the global society.

What India must do for women

“Women have to respect themselves. Respect that is given can be taken away since it is artificial. Respect – like power – is not given; it is assumed and perceived on account of behaviour and strength,” adds Sanjay.

Failure or success- who is responsible?
Sanjay explains very well, “My paternal grandmother raised her eight children and raised them right out of abject poverty – all on her own. She passed her 10th grade against all norms, which was very rare in the 1930s in Varanasi, India. Her husband (my grandfather, who died in his early middle age) was a supremely talented man in engineering, culinary and performing arts, but very reticent and temperamental and he believed people should start working early and education was an unnecessary luxury. She believed in education, continuous learning and hard work. She stood up for what she believed in and ensured that each one of her children (4 girls, and 4 boys) was at least a graduate (7 of them had Masters).”

He continues, “She taught them housework, music, mathematics, three languages, scriptures, and what was called ‘practical science’ in our family – in today’s world it is called management (of resources and relationships). She helped her husband run canteens, she sewed clothes, taught and took tuitions to make a good life for her children. Her children also taught and took tuitions right from primary school, paying their way through life. She maintained cordial relationships with all parts of her family even though no one came to her aid as she struggled with her little children. So what’s the point of this story?”

With regard to personal and professional life, Sanjay explains, it’s all very hard and it’s all hard work, every step of the way. Nobody can really hold us back – we stop ourselves with our fears and inhibitions.

Women at work

“Personally, I know more women (than men) who are self-employed, have their own businesses or are exploring new skills and avenues. Every single person matters. Successful people are people who believe in their own self and wanted to achieve their dreams, rather than men or women who society rallied around.” says Sanjay

Talking about the proverbial glass ceiling, Sanjay adds, “At the end of the day, men and women are both capable of learning and doing and leading and following – in a work environment, what it comes down to is who can evolve a better strategy to negotiate the environment. Gender restriction is a deeply ingrained conditioned behaviour that men and women (both) continue to perpetuate.

If you look closely even today, you’ll realise that in many companies, HR teams are mostly women, but the VP or real decision maker at the top is a man. Why? There are some great companies, and some great HR leaders (many of them are women) and there have been changes over the last decade, but unless more individuals stand up and take on the mantle of making a difference against the peer trend, the change will remain superficial.”

Sanjay signs off by saying, “I am not qualified to give any messages. I can only share what I remind myself every morning: Get up, brush your teeth, get ready, today is a new day – get busy and stay gainfully occupied.”

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