So, I saw this advert in the newspaper today:
And I thought, “Wow, women empowerment programs by The Hindu and PSR. Must be really good”.
And then, THIS caught my eye.
Imagine my disappointment. Strike that. Imagine my rage.
Seriously guys? A cooking competition???
A leading newspaper and a giant in the garment business – both of them claiming to be modern and progressive – are acting in the most backward manner.
I am NOT calling cooking a lowly activity.
I am NOT insulting cooking or the people who enjoy cooking – be it man or woman.
My point is this – a contest doesn’t fulfill the purpose of empowerment.
Competitions (it just so happens that here it is a cooking competition) can’t be classified as ’empowerment’, especially women empowerment.
In a competition what we do is pick 3 winners. That means nearly 97% of the participants go home feeling like losers.
They leave the event feeling the same or feeling worse than how they came in.
How is that empowering??! Someone please explain that to me.
The purpose of events like cookery shows and the purpose of an actual program to empower women are very, very different.
Now, I don’t want to transform into a super-feminist and complain about the state-of-affairs in our city. But I do want to suggest some activities that I consider to fall under women empowerment.
Here’s what you could do on women’s day if you really want to help women break out of their shells:
- Initiate small-business opportunities: If you want to do something cooking related, go ahead and conduct a small session on how to start her own small business making and selling her special item (personally, I think that home-style Biryani would be a huge hit).
- And when I say start business, I don’t mean a Facebook page alone. Yes, that’s a starting point, but she can be equipped with other business-related skills like inventory management, website development, sales, marketing etc. without relying on anybody else to do the ‘technical‘ work for her, while she (ironically) slogs in the kitchen.
- Give her some personality and professional training so that she can not only start out, but also make a thriving business for herself.
- Leadership training: Bring women together and bring a consultant trainer to identify the leaders and pick them out for further training. We need more women leaders. We have lost them to diapers and dirty dishes.
- Start a purpose-driven networking session for women from different backgrounds and watch the magic unfold. Women will instantly start networking with the right kind of people. Say, Mrs.Latha (totally fictional) is in the IT and is looking for someone who can do some content writing for her website. She can meet Miss.Divya (also fictional), who does freelancing. And there you have a working relationship. Now, women will be grateful for such opportunity.
If you think that all the above is only for aspiring business women, don’t fret. There’s more:
- Conduct ‘talent hunts’ to find out the hidden talents in housewives. You’d be surprised how many latent prodigies are hiding behind that coy demeanor.
- When you organize an event, bring an expert from a field and conduct a workshop on any new skill you think would help her future (NOT sewing. We have had enough of those in our craft classes in school. Besides, we learn to sew when necessity hits.)
Think IT training, Website development, Android app development.
- Teach a new skill/ enhance their existing skills – drawing, singing, painting, DIY crafts.A lot of them learn arts till they’re about 17 then stop all of a sudden. Who knows where her singing skills might take her one day!!
Please encourage women artists (however small).
- Expose housewives to the world of soft skills like business etiquette, phone and email etiquette, language training – now I’d be impressed with anyone trying to do that. I know it costs a lot for this stuff, but I’m sure that a few hundred chairs and one trainer is much cheaper than the LPG and raw materials you need for conducting a cookery show.
- Conduct a workshop on how to manage Biowaste better – there is a group that does a wonderful job and my mother herself is involved in it. She has been talking about biowaste management in various settings. I’d like to see some big players show some interest in it.
So, those are a few suggestions from my side. I’d like to see a world where cooking is disassociated from the women sector and is simply a task for a human being’s survival.
The hungry can cook for themselves. Let’s support Women pursue their dreams.
P.S. I cook more than noodles. I make decent south Indian meals and nobody has been severely injured or taken ill because of my cooking. So please don’t turn this into a mockery of my culinary skills.