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Women Find Their Voice


Chitra Narayanan

OWN IT: LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM WOMEN WHO DO
By Aparna Jain
Collins Business, India, 2016, pp. 313, Rs. 399.00

WALKING TOWARDS OURSELVES: INDIAN WOMEN TELL THEIR STORIES
Edited by Catriona Mitchell
Harper Collins, New Delhi, 2016, pp. 255, Rs. 399.00

VOLUME XL NUMBER 7 July 2016

It’s undeniably challenging being a woman in India but the good news is that women are now speaking out.   I f you look at the number of books that are publishing the narratives of women, that’s a story in itself. Suddenly, the voiceless gender is speaking out—boldly, aggressively, honestly. What’s more, the second sex is getting heard—if the plethora of women centric books hitting the stores is any yardstick. Aparna Jain’s Own It tells the stories of women at the workplace and the persisting glass ceiling, while Walking Towards Ourselves is a collection of intensely personal accounts of women who have constantly faced challenges on account of their gender, colour or community. One is a business book, focusing on the issues confronting career women in organizations, while the other has a more sweeping canvas capturing a rich tapestry of real life experiences of women living in India. What both these books show is that it is undeniably challenging being a woman in India, whether at the office, within the confines of home or on the streets. There may be 623 million women living in this country, as Namita Gokhale points out in the foreword to Walking Towards Ourselves, but despite the scale and size, they remain the second sex, often marginalized and discriminated against. Of the two books, Walking Towards Ourselves, is the better written book—there is some very fine writing here, evocative, poetic almost in places as women bare their souls, share their fears, their dreams. Crafted beautifully each story is a compelling read. Tishani Doshi’s ‘Tick Tock’ captures the inner quandary of a woman who decides that babies aren’t for her, especially as society loses no occasion to keep reminding her of her womanly duties. Told with wry self deprecating humour, it’s a gently reflective piece and moves you, especially the bits when the writer has to face her husband’s child from an earlier marriage and is wracked by jealousy. ‘Dark Beauty’, Rosalyn D’ Mello’s account of the prejudices she faces on account of her skin colour and how it affects her sense of desirability, and finally how she learns to appreciate herself, is a poignant story. What makes this collection of stories very interesting is the different tones of the women writing here. There is the rebellious nonconformist voice of Mitali Saran, who chooses to lead ...


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