I was lucky enough to be born to a strong, fierce and independent woman, who had already fought all the battles she had to, in order to achieve and assert her equal status both at home and work. To me those results were served on a platter. Being a single-girl child, raised by my parents to think freely, openly and live my life on my own conditions- it took me a long enough time to realize that what I had wasn’t the norm. Aspects and values that I took for granted- were necessities women around the world were demanding and struggling for.
I have spent large parts of my life in two extremely varied fields- academics (liberal arts) and fashion; both fields where the representation of women to men, has not been vastly eschewed. Pursuing an academic career in my University, made me come face to face with the struggles that women face not in terms of just safety and identity, but in recognition of rights, ownership of self both in the physical and mental realm.
Having been in the fashion industry for a little over two years now, I’m happy to say I’m in one of those few professions where women have better representation than men. It’s hard to predict a certain ratio of women to men, but rough estimates put it anywhere between 55:45 to 70:30.
I happen to meet lots of people in my line of work, ranging from fashion stylists, photographers, make-up artists, fashion merchandisers and models, almost a good chunk of them happen to be women.
Even though, I interact and operate in a women-dominated industry, all the employees and the karigars that I work with are predominantly male. The very few women that work in that sector are mostly in the semi-skilled categories, where they don’t make as much money as their skilled male counterparts. It is here- where women need to be trained and recruited in large numbers, to bring about balance and parity at the base level.
As a women entrepreneur, I’ve sometimes had to face snide remarks about my leadership, management and financial skills."How long can I do this alone?" "Hire an accountant because you will mess up your finances" "When will you get married"...are just some of the nonsensical queries I have learnt to ignore. A lot of unsolicited advice has also come my way from “well-wishing” men, who have quite benevolently tried to lecture me on the disadvantages of being more focused on my career than personal life.
I’ve remained unfettered about all this because I believe I’ve been fortunate enough to have a strong, supportive mother; to having had the opportunity to attend universities that further strengthened my worldview and made me meet many wonderful, resilient and independent women. Finally working in a field where women probably walk a step ahead of men, if not equal- makes it easier for me to ‘make way for myself’!
Ritambhara is the Creative Director of Roora by Ritam. She has done her Mphil in American Foreign Policy, her MA in Politics (International Relations) from Jawaharlal Nehru University and BA in History (Hons) from St. Stephen's College, Delhi University.