Nidhi   Shilpa
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Lifestyle

Breaking stereotype

Our generation is becoming so busy trying to prove that women can do what men can do that women are losing their uniqueness… Women weren’t created to do everything a man can do. Women were created to do everything a man can’t do.”

It was the occasion of celebrating women-hood and the women who walked in proved just that.

An evening sans celebrities where the ordinary women inspired hundreds of other women as they shared their stories filled with courage determination and above all never say die spirit.

It was the International Women’s Day celebrations at Hotel Lalit in Mumbai sponsored by Vwash Glenmark India. Interestingly I didn’t have to ask for the directions to the venue, I simply followed the buzz that could be heard two levels above the grand ball room. The buzz kept increasing as I took the stairs leading the venue.

The view was so refreshingly pleasing as I entered.  Girls posing for the cameras adorning tiaras, hats, garlands and many other  accessories. Some of them were expressing their views on womanhood on the wall of fame. Others were sipping tea and chit-chatting to glory.

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Soon enough the event started as the chirpy vivacious Emcee welcomed us. Glenmark has been organizing this event for past three years. Their objective is to recognize women who have made a difference in the community by virtue of their knowledge and confidence. This year the theme was “Breaking Stereotype”.  At the onset the official from Glenmark spoke about the female Hygiene product Vwash. Values of  women empowerment has been the philosophy of Vwash which now is the number one intimate hygiene brand in India.

Tribute was paid  to those women who dared to question “WHY”, redefined the situations and reinvented themselves along the journey.

These extra-ordinary women were:

Ms. Swati Bedekar:

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Swati Bedekar has done exemplary work by empowering rural women with the knowledge of menstrual hygiene. Her journey has not only broken stereotypes but also myths and taboos that have long haunted the women particularly in rural areas. Her contribution is not limited to spreading awareness about menstrual hygiene  in fact Bedekar has taken her efforts  to a level higher by empowering these woman to earn a living out of it.  She started with an enterprise where in women would manufacture the sanitary pads which are priced as low as 2 Rs. per pad.

Swati’s relentless work has made a huge impact in the lives of rural woman, they are not only equipped with the knowledge of correct menstural hygiene , but they are able to take care of their financial needs without being dependent on any one.

Anuradha Parekh:

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We live in a world that is filled with negativity, a world where sensationalism sells. We all like to hear gossip , express strong opinions about what’s wrong with our country yet a very few have the courage to change what’s wrong ! Anuradha Parekh is one of those few who dared to make the change they wanted to see. She wanted to change the perception “Is desh ka kuch nahi ho sakta”

The exasperation created by the negative and sensational news led Anuradha take matters in her own hands and she decided to start her own news site. www.thebetterindia.com/ The idea was to share only positive news without being preachy. They have 3 million readers on their portal every month! This figure in itself explains that deep down everyone of us has a story to share, each one of us is looking for hope and inspiration.  The better India has built & inspired an awesome community of people by sharing stories that have made a positive impact in the lives of people and society as a whole.

Rajni Pandit:

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“The name is bond…James Bond!”. Oh no, don’t get me wrong! I was just setting the stage to introduce India’s first Lady jasoos ” Ms. Rajni Pandit” There  was a visible sense of curiosity among all of us as she started sharing her story , we were amazed with her warmth and down to earth attitude. Looks can be deceiving, this phrase perfectly fits in for Rajni Pandit. No one can imagine that behind a motherly face and a simple demeanor there’s a Detective! She is courageous and sharp and credits her ability to take quick decisions as the success mantra for her work. Rajni has been in this profession for past 25 years , when there were far less woman professionals let alone the lady Detectives. Her message is simple; one should be alert all the time, it’s good to doubt and question in life. With confidence and courage women can realize their dreams.

Geeta Shridhar:
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A mother’s love is selfless and endless they say….imagine the heart of a women who is a mother to  28 orphan children who are fighting for their lives!! Geeta Shridhar is a living example of selfless love and compassion. Her smile is infectious and the energy is childlike! Geeta has adopted 28 children who are battling with different kinds of cancers. A teacher by profession with husband and two daughters , Geeta is nothing less than a superwoman.  Her life changed when her 8 year old daughter asked her to give a promise . To the shock of her parents the young girl wanted to go bald! Geeta gave in to the demands of her daughter as she had promised her, not imaging that an 8 year old would demand something like this. The next day when  Geeta went to drop her daughter to school, she was hugged by a lady who happen to be the mother of her daughter’s classmate. Geeta was shocked when the story unfolded. The lady expressed her gratitude to Geeta and her daughter. She told her that her son was suffering from cancer , due to which he is loosing his hair and had gone bald. Geeta’s daughter’s gesture was to comfort her friend. Geeta was so moved by her daughter’s compassion that she decided to do something for the cancer patients.

Rajni Paranjape:
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Rajni Tai Paranjape as we fondly call her is a lady with a mission. Founder of The Door step school she has been working in the field of education for past 25 years. A professional social worker Rajni tai has been relentlessly working for the education of lower strata of society. While sharing her experience at the Door Step School, Rajni tai insited on basic literacy and numeracy skills. The idea of Door step school came in to being while working at a municipal school in colaba in 1988. The team noticed the alarming  number of drop outs and wanted to dive deep to know the actual causes of dropping out of school. It’s a myth that parents don’t want to send their children to school, she said. It’s difficult for them to send the child for 8 hour schooling for various practical issues. The door step school devises strategies to provide education amidst all such problems by various interventions. In her words- Every individual should contribute to the society in what ever capacity they can. Change begins with us.

After this amazing session with the inspiring stories , we were set for a delhi ka tadka! No, I’m not talking about food. This surprise package came for us straight from Delhi.

Neeti Palta – A stand up comedian rated among the top 20 in the country and one of the few female comedians. I didn’t know what to expect from her show as I had never seen a stand up comedy act by a lady. I was dumbfounded with her presence of mind and refreshing style of delivery. From one subject to another she moved seamlessly, right from the life of  women in India,to mothers,  Indian idiosyncrasies, to daily irritants, current affairs, etc. She left the audience in spilts! In fact my jaw started hurting after a while. Neeti was truly an icing on the cake.

Although she was not the one who were honoured but she was an achiever by all means. Neeti left her promising career at JWT to chase her dream of being a comedian. Her family was not very supportive but that didn’t stop the lady from chasing her dream.
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The evening wrapped up with classic mocktails and delectable buffet dinner. I couldn’t resist saying – ” Oh what a night!!!

Review Credit: Kshama Gupta

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