What do women want?

What do women want?
“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen,” says Malini Bhushan, quoting Michael Jordan. “Of course, I want to be in the last category, especially this year,” she adds, crossing her fingers. The 38-year-old has left a juicy pay cheque to pursue her dream of educating children. “I am not looking for a teacher’s job. I want to build my own curriculum.

I want to ‘unschool’ children, make them unlearn the concepts they have rote-learned and educate them in a more practical way.” That’s a tall order. But Malini is pretty sure she can do it. Her way ahead? “I am getting my certifications in place, consulting different educationists and building up a team of like-minded individuals. By the end of 2016, the foundation for my dream will be laid.”

Rolling up her sleeves
The goals are many, but the focus is unflinching. Determined and sure-footed, women in India have prioritised career, personal achievement, health and family in their vision for 2016. Their multitasking roles, once a hindrance to going ahead (heard the where-is-the-time refrain?), is now their very weapon. Malavika Save Patel packs in a punch as a mom, a freelance user experience design consultant, a co-admin on a popular mom forum and a science educator at her kids’ science club. Malavika wants to remember this year as ‘dynamic’.

“If I don’t shake off the stupor of self-imposed, easy-paced freelance work, there won’t be much to expect that is any different from the previous year. I want more quality time with my six-year-old daughter, who now has longer hours at school. I want more quantity of time for myself, my design work, my reading and writing, my science club and most importantly, for fitness.”

Unleashing entrepreneurship
The Indian woman is certainly not interested in taking the easy way out. Do-your-own-thing seems to be the mantra on her lips, be it the stay-at-home giving a professional touch to her business or the startup visionary in a male-dominated space. Tina Garg, founder and CEO of design and communications agency, Pink Lemonade, feels that the New Year will spell out the best for women in the entrepreneurial sphere. “Already, a staggering one in three startups boasts of women founders, and this number will certainly see an upswing thanks to the feminine creative energies out there. Today’s women are gutsy, ambitious, and are willing to take equal amount of risk as their male counterparts. Women in 2016 want to make it big; and my bet is they certainly will.”

For Abhijita Kulshrestha of Gemstoneuniverse, a favourable export climate is on the wishlist. “India’s coloured gemstones’ exports are on the rise and a better and efficient process flow through government agencies would definitely be a plus for me. On the personal front, one significant innovation in my business, one powerful insight into the self and more physical stamina to accomplish targets would do just fine.”

On the home front
For many women though, family still remains the number one priority, and appreciation from family members matters significantly. Vibha Gupta is a stay-at-home mum who enjoys her me-time, especially with books, but can seldom afford it. “It would make me very happy if my family appreciated my efforts in cooking and if my husband took equal responsibility, if not more, of our daughter. If I was allowed some wishful thinking, I’d hope to have more money to spend on clothes, books and salons, and the power to eat without slapping on the kilos!” she says, laughing.

I for independence
Independence is the key factor to happiness in Vibha’s life. “Men are not born with special skills which equip them to handle everything ‘outside the house’. I really wish I could handle finances and legalities on my own, without needing assistance from my father or my husband. I wish I have a year full of nature trips and ‘read together’ sessions. I don’t want to spend all my time attending social functions with the baggage of family and friends.”

Brinda Shah feels that independence should not be only namesake. Like peace, it should come from within, not just from you but from everyone around you. “I really want peace in the New Year. I seem to have an overwhelming feeling that I should run away from my current situation to get more comfortable. I don’t like that. I want a change in the soundscape around me, so it sounds like earth. I don’t know what we are living in now. I want my cup to be filled to the brim and overflowing,” she says.

Independence indeed is a buzzword with more and more women aspiring to be financially independent. Tarunjeet Rattan, who heads Nucleus PR, feels that women helping other women through forums, groups and media have encouraged others to step out and be more.
“Through 2015, there has been a shift in terms of perception about women-based businesses. Moving beyond soft skills and home-based attractions (which also has gotten a more serious turn), women are proudly making their presence known in other segments like infrastructure, IT and manufacturing. I want 2016 to take this trend forward.”

Not just a fantasy
Give them a personal genie at their beck and call and these ladies have much more to demand. “All I would ask for is to be taken to the Jaipur Lit Fest. Practically, I do not have the time or the money to get there this year,” rues Malini.

 “I’d ask for good housekeepers, childcare and every other help that you don’t get from in-laws. And yes, all reasonable and reliable,” says Vibha. “More shoes and more books are all I need,” chimes in Tarunjeet.

Malavika hopes that her genie just helps keep her long-term goals on track. That’s easier said than done as she lives in a joint family with plenty of relatives nearby.

“But yes, this is the year, I hope to learn to say ‘No’ to what I find non-productive and negative. Perhaps, I will hurt some sentiments, and break some hearts. But there is always a turning point in life. And I hope 2016 is that. So that on my 40th in 2018, I will look back and see life is on the right track.”

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