Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

Network 18's Rising India She Shakti puts the spotlight on the incredible women shaping India's future

Rising India She Shakti is a Network18 initiative that aims to shine a spotlight on just some of these incredible women, and to celebrate their strength, resilience, and limitless potential.

BRAND CONNECT | PAID POST
Published: Aug 29, 2023 02:56:46 PM IST

Network 18's Rising India She Shakti puts the spotlight on the incredible women shaping India's futureWhether we’re aware of it or not, women in India have played a central role in shaping India’s past, and it’s future. Many of these women have done so silently, resolutely, and in the face of incredible odds. These women include the likes of President of India Droupadi Murmu, union minister Smriti Irani, legendary playback singer Asha Bhosle, and many more.

Rising India She Shakti is a Network18 initiative that aims to shine a spotlight on just some of these incredible women, and to celebrate their strength, resilience, and limitless potential. Held in New Delhi on 11 August, the event served as a platform where women from every level of society, from tribal artists to heavy machinery operators, from social workers and village panchayats to presidents, all came together to share their stories, learnings, their motivations, and a lot more besides.

The day-long session was insightful and most certainly worth a watch, and we strongly recommend taking the time off to understand how women are shaping India’s future, and to learn how we can support such women in making this happen.

An underrated resilience

The central theme of the event, ‘main kar sakti hoon, main she shakti hoon,’ was echoed by all at various points during the day. The president spoke of her humble beginnings and India’s strong cultural roots, union minister Smriti Irani spoke of the price of success and the harsher realities of life as a public figure, and Dr Seema Rao provided a sobering demonstration of threats faced by the average woman in India. India’s first female truck driver — Yogita Raghuvanshi, who studied law — spoke with spirit of the determination with which she pursued this unusual career path, and of the pride she feels on receiving salutes from fellow male truck drivers when they realised that she drove a truck as well.

Another consistent theme that emerged in all these stories was one of resilience and toughness that women possess, a necessity in the face of seemingly impossible odds, as well as that of support and love from a family that kept them going. Asha Bhosle is a legend who needs no introduction, her voice the voice of India for many. Few, however, know of the struggles she faced in the early stages of her career, of the incredible amount of work that went into carving her identity and building a career while also caring for and educating her children when she had almost nothing to her name. Her children were her motivation to succeed, and even sing, and she expressed immense pride in her son, someone who was encouraging her to sing even to this day, a few weeks short of her 90th birthday.

Determined to succeed

The schoolgirls that Dr Srimathy Kesan mentored came from rural backgrounds and built satellites that orbited the earth. They spoke of how people like Dr Kesan inspired them to look beyond the confines of the Earth and sparked an interest in STEM. Tessy Thomas a.k.a ‘Missile Woman of India’ spoke of the sacrifices she had to make to help design the missile systems that are key to India’s offensive capabilities. At the same time, she’s refreshingly blasé about the skill it takes to become a scientist, simply stating that if men can do it, so can women. “It’s not that hard.”
Others spoke of the effort it takes to earn the respect of male counterparts. Vice Admiral Punit Arora stated that she had to work doubly hard to convince an, at the time, all-male army that she was just as capable as any of the men. The same sentiment was echoed by union minister Smriti Irani, stuntwoman Sandbar Pradiwala, and many others.

The importance of empowering women

As the president and union minister both noted during their talk, if India is ever to succeed as a global superpower and achieve its goal of becoming the third largest economy in the world, it can only do so when India’s women are empowered. To be fundamentally strengthened as a society, women need to play an equal part. Financial institutions already know that women are better investments, making women-led development key to success.
To make this happen, change needs to start at a grassroots level. Looking at the world through a women’s lens, and addressing issues is necessary, as is creating an atmosphere that encourages participation.

“We cannot afford to lose this national opportunity.” - Union Minister Smriti Irani

Rising India She Shakti is a NW18 initiative presented by Quess alongside associate partners RIL, Goldie, and Tata Motors. The gifting partner for the event was Sirona.

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