The Unstoppables…

Happy Womens Day 2023!

Come, let us meet some women achievers amongst us who with their determination, zeal and spirit have reached pinnacles of success.

They are The Unstoppables!

And who, as is often the case, were stopped/controlled/restricted many a times on their tracks – by the world around them as well as by their own fears.

Yet, they persisted.

And, here they are. Standing tall, realising and respecting the Queen within them, and those around them! Whilst, not hesitating to keep their crown intact as well as making sure that the crowns of the women around them are also intact!

Here’s to their daring and daunting inner strength!

Pratima Amonkar, Asia Lead – Digital Natives, Startups Cloud, AI Strategy, Microsoft Asia Pacific

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

An empowered woman is a woman who has the knowledge, skills, and confidence to make her own choices and take control of her life. She is someone who has access to education, resources, and opportunities, and she uses them to improve her own life and the lives of those around her. She has a strong sense of self and is able to advocate for herself and others. She recognizes that her actions and decisions have an impact on her community and the world, and she strives to make a positive difference.  She is supportive of other women and supports an equitable and inclusive society for everyone.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

The desire to make a positive impact and drive change in the industry is the one aspect that has motivated me to keep going on my journey as a woman leader in technology companies. I am driven by the responsibility to use my position and influence to advocate for greater diversity, equity, and inclusion in the industry, and to innovate and push boundaries.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

I am inspired by the ‘common’ woman who juggles work and home and strives to live up to her full potential against all odds. Her resilience, determination, and grit in the face of numerous obstacles and challenges are truly inspiring. The ‘common’ woman’s strength and perseverance remind us that we can all achieve our goals, no matter how difficult they may seem. My favorite inspirational quote is one from Helen Keller who said, “Why consent to creep when you can soar.”

Tracey Griffin, COO/CFO, Ex-McKinsey & Company 

 1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman? 

An empowered woman controls her own destiny.  We, as women, all have different paths and choices to make. That path could be a mother, a teacher, a doctor or a business leader. Regardless of the path taken, the woman who intentionally picks her own path is an empowered woman.   

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going?  

I have been fortunate that, at an early stage in my career, the concept of “impact” was imprinted in my brain. Whatever you do as a professional, you want to have “impact” on the people and/or organization you are a part of.  I get energy when I see a business decision I made, or a coaching conversation I had, result in a positive outcome.  Sometimes that path to impact might be circuitous, or it might be one step forward and two steps backward but eventually you get to two steps forward and then three and so on and so forth. To me that is impact and that keeps me going.   

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead. 

One of my first mentors was Vivian.  Early in my career I had always thought, ‘keep your head down and do great work and you will be rewarded.’  The reality is that it is not 100% true. You do have to do great work, but you also must be intentional about your career planning.  Vivian took me out to lunch one day and really challenged me to set my path – “don’t let others do it for you and by the way, if you are not clear in your own mind’s eye on where you are going, you can’t enlist the help of others to assist you on that professional journey.”  That lunch was pivotal in my professional career.  As a result, I started writing down my journey map every two years – what I wanted to accomplish over the next few years and used that plan to guide my professional choices and the networks I built. I eventually became a partner at McKinsey & Company, and attribute that one pivotal conversation as foundational to that achievement. 

Radhika Pandey, Senior Fellow, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy

1. Who according to you is an empowered woman? 

An empowered woman is one who is able to follow her passion. She has the right to make her own decisions and choices. She has the freedom to pursue her dreams and aspirations while managing her responsibilities at home. She doesn’t feel guilty not being at home to look after her young child. She loves what she is doing and has a sense of self-worth. An empowered woman is able to pursue work-life balance on her own terms.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going?

My love for my work keeps me going. One has to be happy doing what one is doing. Then rejections, difficulties do not feel insurmountable. If one is passionate about one’s work, the potential is limitless.  YES I CAN, is the mantra, despite all the problems and challenges.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead. 

While there are a few women who inspire me and have played a valuable role in my journey, if I have to pick one woman, it has to be my mother. How to keep going with a smile despite so many challenges is something I am still learning from her. My mother is a fighter. We all have our weak moments when we feel like crashing but to rise from the depth of sorrows and to keep one’s faith intact is something I have learnt from my mother. 

Neha Aggarwal, Sr. Associate Director, Cushman & Wakefield 

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

According to me, any woman who makes her own decisions and owns up the results of those decisions is an empowered woman. Empowerment doesn’t need to have a big definition; it’s the right to choose, right to live the way you want and right to be considered equal.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

One of quotes that motivates me every day since I first read it, is by Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” This keeps me pushing to ask for opportunities / challenges, instead of waiting for opportunities to come my way. 

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

I’m surrounded by way too many to write about one, but one that had the earliest impact was my maternal grandmother. She always said no matter what, keep pushing and keep moving, you’ll only loose if you stand at one place. She was a kind, loving, amazing human being and she set up a life for myself and my family. 

Though she herself was not educated, she made sure my mom studied to her full capability (Msc in Microbiology). She raised me all on her own for 5+ years (as my parents used to stay 15+ kms away and childcare was not accessible in those days), realizing that it was critical for my mom to do what she was doing; not from a financial standpoint but for forging a path for herself and to inspire us when we grew up.

Sanchita Gairola Mishra, Co-Founder, Vision360 Management Consulting

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

A girl should be two things – WHO and WHAT she wants (COCO CHANEL). For me, that’s an empowered woman in a nutshell. Having a mind and a voice of her own. Control over her life, her choices, her dreams; both within and outside the home. She can be both Strong and Vulnerable. Humble and Bold. Empathetic and Decisive. It’s not about having power on others. It’s about having power on oneself.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

Entrepreneurship is a journey — a hard, lonely, crazymaking, rewarding and fulfilling journey with many highs and lows – ALL IN THE SAME BREATH! So, what keeps me going is the road that I have already travelled. Recognizing what I have already accomplished. Reminding myself that struggles are part of the journey and a learning opportunity. Pacifying myself by saying that ‘you win some and the other times you learn’ helps me in hanging from the last ruptured thread of hope and determination in a few situations. Also, having a truly grateful heart & counting the blessings soothes both mind and soul.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

It’s hard to just pick one woman who inspires me (especially with so many amazing women around). I learn from each one of them to be better and do better. But none of us spring from the womb fully formed — we’ve all been shaped by people in our lives. So, while growing up, women in our household had profound impact on my life, encouraging me to be the best version of myself in whatever I chose to be in life.

Liane King , Sr. Operations Leader, Ex-Kaplan 

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

An empowered woman has freedom to make choices, and has control over her life. She has the ability to define for herself the life she wants to live. Empowered women choose an authentic life, pursue dreams and goals that are meaningful to their own existence, and do not need to measure their success by others’ rulers. Wherever you see a woman who is choosing her own path and being true to herself, that is an empowered woman.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

By understanding what is important to me and my own journey, I push forward. I know what brings me joy, what makes me feel fulfilled, and what value I bring, so I focus on the path and milestones that align with these values. 

In life, things happen to you, but these things do not have to define you. The more you know yourself, the better you react to, and move past these events. It is very empowering to know that you can use these events to fuel a better future. From loss, grief, financial or professional setbacks, understanding yourself and what you need and want will propel you forward.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

I know many inspirational women but I was lucky enough to be raised by one. My mother did not have a university education or a professional career, but her influence on our family and her community was unmistakable. She was a hard worker, a problem solver, and a leader in every sense of the word. She had a humble life, and through her job as a school bus driver, and through her volunteer work in her community, she connected with so many people. Her genuine concern for others is a trait that I admire,  and I try to emulate her empathetic manner as a leader. She also had a wonderful sense of humour and loved to laugh… I hope that I inherited that from her!

Seema Choudhary, Technical Expert – Alliance for Integrity at GIZ

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

According to me an empowered woman is someone who has access to information, knowledge, wisdom and independence to decide and power to take charge, but most importantly, the courage to say “No” when she wants to.

All these things do not come easy and, at this point of humanity, has a cost that women need to pay for making a choice either to stay home or to be a breadwinner, this cost must be eliminated.

An empowered woman is one who does not get burdened by societal and cultural norms in achieving her dreams and does not have to struggle to get her rights, does not get looked down upon because of gender and does not have to fight at every step – basically a woman who can soar high with ease.

For me, an empowered woman in true sense will exist only at a privileged time when we will not need to use the term “empowered” and there will be no need to focus on gender (not only on the binary gender but the rainbow genders as well), as at that point in time only the individual will matter and not their gender identity.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

I come from a state where the second daughter in the family is welcomed with a sigh. I want to change that. I wanted to be the daughter my family is proud of. As a kid, when I would go to my village I would hear women talk, how they would have walked away from abusive homes if they had money, and I decided for myself, that I will make sure that I am always financially independent. My grandfather was one of the first three people in my village to get higher education and qualify civil services, but he wanted to take the baton forward and not stop with himself and his immediate family, he would encourage and support anyone who wanted to study further.

I think whenever I get tired of my struggles I just look back to my roots, where I came from and the fact that the further I get ahead, I will be able to bring more changes, support more and do more. In Akan culture in Africa there is a mythic bird called ‘sankofa’, which represents going forward in future but never leaving your roots and knowledge from past behind. Sankofa is a phrase that encourages learning from the past to inform the future, reaching back to move forward, and lifting as we climb.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

Well, I am surrounded by so many strong inspirational women both in personal and professional life and I am so grateful for that. But the one woman who truly left a mark in my life was my mentor, friend and guide Late Shabnam Siddiqui. I worked with her for a year, she was my boss. Her leadership and mentorship included leading by doing. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and did not fear the perception or the consequences. She lived life on her own terms, seeking her peace and happiness, and at the same time she empowered so many people without ever asking for a credit. She knew how to balance things in her life, how to work sincerely and laugh with a clear conscience. Without realising, she gave me so much food for thought for my life.

I believe it is important to have inspirational figures around us at all stages in life and maybe in future, we can be that person to someone.

Ankita Kumari, Asst Program Manager (Communications, CSR & Sustainability) UN GCNI

1. Who, according to you, is an empowered woman?

A woman who has the right to make her choice and can voice out her choices and opinions freely.

2. In your journey, what is that one aspect that pushes you to keep going? 

There is this urge in me to see a change, to bring a change in my work, in women’s lives. This urge keeps me going. I believe that if we want people to change and support us, we should relentlessly keep moving ahead and forging our own path.

3. Tell us about the one woman who inspired you to stride ahead.

I have to say – my Mother. She has been the greatest source of inspiration for me. She is the principal of a Government School in Bihar. She completed her education after having her babies and after that, she cleared the competitive exam to be a teacher. She has always motivated me to be financial independent and gives me courage and support at every stage of my life to keep moving ahead.

*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*

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