-Dr. Uma Aysola

International Women’s Day is a reminder of both the strides made and the hurdles left to overcome on the journey towards gender equality. This Women’s Day, I had the privilege of addressing four impactful gatherings designed to advance women’s rights and foster inclusivity.
The attendees represented a diverse range of age groups and backgrounds, spanning from technical experts in fields such as health-tech, research and manufacturing, pharmacology, and public health practitioners. The audience included students completing their engineering degrees, individuals finishing their master’s degrees in pharmacology and preparing to enter the drug and manufacturing industry, as well as women with varying levels of experience ranging from 5 to 35 years in the workforce. One thing stands out- women’s perspectives have been instrumental in advocating for policy changes, workplace reforms, and societal shifts towards greater inclusivity. These events showcased the remarkable progress made by women across various sectors and underscored the importance of continued advocacy for gender equality.

Insights for Success in Education and Beyond

G. Narayanamma Institute of Technology Science’s Session on Empowering Women Leaders:

I believe in the transformative power of women supporting women. I have had the opportunity to mentor aspiring leaders and advocating for policies that promote gender diversity in leadership positions. Throughout my career, my own mentors taught me that guidance and support from those who have walked the path before us can be invaluable. It is essential to forge ties with people who can support, uplift, and empower you. Being open about mistakes and vulnerabilities fosters growth and resilience, turning challenges into opportunities for learning and improvement.

Women continue to make significant strides in education globally, with more girls enrolling in schools and pursuing higher education than ever before. However, challenges such as access to quality education, cultural biases, and socio-economic disparities still hinder progress.

Jiddu Krishnamurthy once said, “The ability to observe yourself without judgment is one of the most important things you should do as you go forward.” This resonates deeply with me because our choices shape our journey. Fear, disappointment, and insecurity are common, but by embracing self-awareness, we can overcome these challenges and stay true to ourselves. It’s crucial to shed the burden of societal expectations, especially in contexts like academic pressure, where students’ mental health is at risk.

Reflect on these principles as you carve your path:

  • Embrace imperfection and eschew over-analysis; sometimes, done is better than perfect.
  • Set realistic goals and persevere in pursuit of them; ambition demands resilience.
  • Continuous learning is essential for navigating evolving landscapes; embrace upskilling and reskilling.
  • Cultivate a supportive community that nurtures your growth and taps into your subconscious potential.
  • Empowerment begins with you – you dictate when your journey begins and when you wield power.

Acknowledging Achievements and Nurturing Perseverance

Cyient’s Celebratory Event: Unleashing the Power Within You:

The event aimed at recognizing and celebrating women’s achievements. The need for visible role models and platforms are undervalued. By creating a supportive environment where women feel valued and empowered, organizations like Cyient are paving the way for a more inclusive future. It’s a reminder that being emotional is not a sign of weakness; rather, it takes courage to share vulnerabilities and connect with others on a deeper level. Don’t give your power away; instead, harness your emotions and experiences to drive positive change in your organization and community.

The discussion underscored the importance of reverse learning opportunities for seasoned professionals, emphasizing the humility in acknowledging cross-cultural and cross-generational insights. It focused on the importance of perseverance, particularly among the younger generation, in ensuring the sustainability of work and workforce in industries like technology.

Women’s Perspectives in Research & Manufacturing

CII Telangana’s Healthcare Panel on Promoting Women’s Health:

The Healthcare Panel convened by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) Telangana stressed on prioritizing women’s health within the research and manufacturing industry. From advocating for improved access to healthcare services to addressing the unique healthcare needs of women across different life stages, the discussions were invigorating. Additionally, it’s a powerful reminder to us as public health professionals to advocate for change towards shaping a more inclusive healthcare system. Women’s perspectives in research and manufacturing are invaluable for driving innovation and addressing representation of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The panel touched upon the delicate balance between work ethic and asserting personal boundaries from a women’s perspective. Challenges faced in male-dominated industries often relate to ethical dilemmas and the pressure to conform to traditional gender roles.  Every workplace must empower women to assert their values and boundaries while navigating professional landscapes and foster an environment that supports women’s autonomy and agency in decision making.

Entering the workforce is a pivotal moment for women, often marked by unique challenges and barriers. This is where the delicate balance of communication comes into play – the language you use can be simplified, ensuring that your message both aligns with organizational goals and supports your individual aspirations. Moreover, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of choosing your battles wisely. Prioritize the issues that truly matter and advocate for them with conviction and strategic intent.

Elevating the Voice and Visibility of Professional Women in the Global South

Webinar with Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital’s Women in Public Health:

Many professional women in the Global South lack access to resources and opportunities that would enable them to fully realise their potential. Women in the Global South often face stereotypes and biases that undermine their capabilities and contributions. Elevating their voices involves challenging these notions through advocacy, education and awareness-raising efforts.

In this webinar participants gained insights into the unique challenges faced by women in public health roles, particularly in regions with limited representation in global health discussions. Discussions focused on strategies for empowering women through mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and the importance of intersectional approaches to addressing health disparities.

In the 35+ years of my professional life, I have weathered many storms and celebrated numerous victories. Through the highs and the lows, I cannot stress enough on the importance of resilience, perseverance, and a strong support system. Despite the obstacles, we continue to break barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and pave the way for future generations. As we celebrate International Women’s Day and beyond, let us remain committed to empowering women, advocating for gender equality, and creating a world where every woman has the opportunity to thrive. Together, we can build a brighter, more equitable future for all. Remember, life is what you make of it, so let’s make it inclusive, empowering, and full of opportunities for everyone, not just on Women’s Day but every day.

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