Sania Mirza marked a glorious closure with the Australian Open 2023, as mixed doubles runners-up. All of us are still hopeful for Serena Williams to return soon and bring everything fiery to the courts. Often touted as the undisputed queen among women football players in the world, is Barcelona and Spain’s Alexia Putellas. The names that put the spotlight on cricket for women – Mithali Raj, Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jhulan Goswami – and for me contribute to the successful launch of WPL!
This time round, attributing this article to the fervor around “International Women’s Day” and to the emergence of the greatest cricketers, of our time!
Now, now. I’m still a Communications professional, nothing changes there. So, why am I highlighting women in sports? Because, to me, this is a platform that beautifully highlights our life – full of grit & determination – for every walk. There is no doubt that any form of sports early on in life can augment our character and values, much better than we can think of.
And yet, our whole species is often wrapped up in discussions pertaining to inequality – either the gap in gender ratio or pay scale; why we deserve a seat in the boardroom; how caring for a family is not equivalent to a career break; and innumerable issues that would blanket up body shaming, skin color, dowry….
Today I’m no activist. But just a believer. Could we all evolve a little and look beyond the set norms? And that’s why I want to nail down the key mantras – mental strength, emotional quotient & financial independence. Sounds so simple, yeah right! But how do we all walk away from the toxic discussions and work towards building something that’s sustainable, impactful, and deserving of each one of us.
For a few minutes, let’s walk back to sports, again. The three aspects that I’m attempting to emphasize on, couldn’t be a better combination, if not for sports. I’m an ardent believer that one should be introduced to some form of sports early on in their life. This is the mere foundation to being a better human being. (Too harsh, you would say!). But really, it’s a fact we all tend to (or choose to) forget.
Explore any sportsperson’s life and tell me if they were not challenged, didn’t struggle for that first game or the gear, fought immense family & societal pressure, and overall, confirming to a coach that they are passionate about the game. If they didn’t have the mental stamina to battle all these issues, or the power to focus their emotions on the field and the manifestation that they will against all odds earn independence for themselves – none of them would have been where they are. I’m not discrediting parents who played those sports and enabled a better beginning for their kids. Or that genius coach who identified raw talent to be groomed. Nor am I discrediting the institutions who work at the grassroots level to enhance livelihood through sports, for many in our country, at the least.
My plea is simple and focused. Train women in lifeskills that will help them tide through the unforeseen challenges of life. Let’s normalize the hardships of life and instead equip our girl child with the toughest chapters of life. Let’s add the nuance of practical education to a girl / woman / lady’s life – just when they are hit by that speedy train called – life will beat you to a pulp, before you learn to stand up!
Financial Independence is an important skill to hone, each day, and every day. So, let’s remind every woman to save that penny at the end of the day and invest it to enjoy the benefits a decade later. Most importantly, don’t be shy to keep your income to yourself and for your tribe (and that can be anyone).
Mental Strength is a crucial lesson to learn over the years. It shouldn’t be like the light at the end of the tunnel, where we are reminded that such strength is achievable only after you have been broken to pieces and must rebuild again. Nope. Think Serena Williams on the court. Remember the vigor and fire she brings to every match. Visualize how stray audience comments don’t deter her from the goal. Despite the battle around color or having a sister competing in the same sport, Serena is a masterpiece in mental strength on the courts! (and of course, to have built a successful career as a business woman too!).
Emotional Quotient. Please don’t even bother equating it with how women need to be more empathetic. Or women have these natural genes to be the caregiver and nurturer. We would also love the role to be reversed (trust me, no one will complain from our tribe). EQ simply means to be kind to all, possibly give an ear to fresh opinions, but have the courage to believe in your options. We must stop asking for guidance and mentorship if we don’t believe in our own capabilities. Live life, enjoy the colors around you, embrace the changing seasons, but don’t let diverse situations or people shake your equilibrium within. That’s why, Emotional Quotient.
If we just manage to apply the essence of these three attributes in our life, my gut says it’s a step towards change. And change that will reap benefits for a longer time, for generations to come. (okay, lets start small and manage next 5years).
On that note, here’s some statistics from the Deloitte Women in the Boardroom Report (2022 update).
The global average of women on boards sits at just under 20% (19.7%), an increase of just 2.8 percentage points since the last report, published in 2019 (figure 1). At this pace, the world will not reach parity until at least 2045, over twenty years from now. Similarly, a Deloitte series that focuses on women leaders in the financial services industry found strong evidence, at the organizational level, of what it calls the multiplier effect—adding one woman to the C-suite resulted in three women joining senior management roles.
And this is where I rest my case. There is a gap and evident potential too!
– Pooja Trehan,