By S Maxwell Lyngdoh
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world’. It aims to celebrate the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic and highlights the gaps that remain. Here in our state, women from various strata of the society are struggling with the changing scenario due to the pandemic and to balance between their work and family responsibilities. While women are seen as playing important roles in the family, working women shoulder the additional load to take care of their workplace, especially when they hold key positions.
On this occasion, the writer interacted with four young, vibrant and dynamic women who not only perform the duty of a ‘woman’ at home but also excel in their professional life.
Ira Dashisha Kynta, a psychologist by profession, serves as a school counsellor at the All Saints Diocesan School. Blessed with two sons and a loving husband, Ira’s passion for cotton and the desire to do something on her own has made her set up ‘Godaam’ – a shop that has amazing varieties of cotton décor and collections. Her engagements require her to divide equal attention between her kids, her husband, the school and her shop.
Rikynti Marwein, a renowned journalist, is the editor of the English daily Highland Post. Packed with the responsibility of being the editor, Rikynti divides her time between her son, husband and her family members. She is also a radio jockey. She was awarded the Red Ink Award for excellence in journalism in 2018 and India’s most prestigious award in journalism called Ram Nath Goenka Award in 2019.
Amabel Susngi, a faculty at the Martin Luther Christian University, is a known musician in the state and has made a prominent name for herself at a very young age. ‘Amabel’ means lovable, and true to her name, she is indeed warm-hearted and carries herself with a lot of confidence. Like any independent woman of this era, she ensures that her performances touch perfection and is able to enthral the crowd without fail. Amabel balances her time with teaching, family, as an artist with a maximum of her time dedicated to her research (PhD). Internationally, she has performed at the Belize International Jazz Festival 2018 at Belize, Central America and at Tulum, Mexico.
Major Alodia Gracia Warjri, administrative officer at 63 Assam Girls Bn NCC, Dibrugarh; NCC Directorate North Eastern Region, National Cadet Corps, Ministry of Defence, GoI has been in this profession for the last 14 years. She is blessed with one son, a daughter and a very supportive husband. She has many feathers attached to her cap while being awarded the Director General National Cadet Corps commendation card for excellence in service twice, was selected as Deputy Delegation Leader for the Youth Exchange Programme 2011 held in Singapore and was recently awarded the Defence Secretary of India Commendation Card in Dec 2020 for excellence in service.
Balancing work and family life
Amabel said, “It is really sad to see how the lockdown has affected and brought a drastic change in a musician’s lifestyle because lockdown means no shows or events and no shows or events only means no income”.
Alodia expressed that as a mother it becomes very difficult “to teach him how to hold a pencil to write alphabets for my son who is at a school-going age at home and my daughter who is at a stage where everything is of interest to her” while she has to literally run around because of her office tasks and responsibilities.
Rikynti, however, is of the opinion that even though she encounters a lot of challenges in her life and profession, “having a supportive family and colleagues has helped me overcome tough times”.
“I strive for perfection at all levels, be it in educating others about mental health and acceptance; introducing cotton as a fabric to others through my shop or in taking care of my two sons who are in their preschool,” says Ira.
Status of women
When asked about the current status of women in various professions and what bothers them the most, Alodia said, “80% of officers and staffs are not permanent, but move on posting almost every two or three years.”
What troubles her is that whether her children can cope with the frequency of postings when they grow up because they have to change places, friends and schools every two to three years.
While speaking on behalf of the journalism life here in the state, Rikynti says, “Journalism for women here in Meghalaya has a long way to go in terms of providing us with financial security. But opportunities open doors when you do your best, work with diligence, perseverance and integrity”.
Amabel and Ira’s responses are similar and attribute to the fact that in the profession that they are in, they got all the needed support and respect from the people whom they work with, their colleagues and few true friends who genuinely acknowledged and appreciated their work and contributions.
It goes without saying that the support system for any woman is her family. Rikynti credits all her success and achievements to her family, whom she considers “the lighthouse to show me the way and the prayer pillars where I can lean on”.
Ira credits her parents who “inculcated decision making and risk-taking ability to her and her siblings at a very young age”. For Amabel, her support, besides her family, is her well-wishers, who believed in her and who encourages and motivates her to do better each day.
Message on the day
Every face has a story to tell and likewise, all successful women are by themselves testimonies for the world to listen to and be inspired. A woman plays many roles, which is why their experiences are enriching and worthy to listen to.
“It is ok to shed tears and lift heavy burdens. But do not let the tears and burden paralyze you. Be the challengers,” Rikynti says.
For someone who has been in the field for 17 years, her message to the women out there is crisp, yet powerful.
Amabel’s message is, “Don’t stop believing in yourself. Think positive always and give your best at whatever work you are doing. Just remember that you are your own boss, don’t let anyone take control of your life, live it the way you want to and stay focus always”.
Ira on the other hand has politely yet firmly expressed that “women all around the world should be able to have the courage and confidence to be unconventional and not conform to what does not appeal or suit them. And this unconventionality and nonconformity should be celebrated and must be respected by others”.
Alodia who has travelled and have lived in rural-urban India and has witnessed real-life situations of women in various circumstances believed that women should “move out of their comfort zone and put their dreams into reality. Crush away all negative vibes which say that this is too difficult or you are inept to handle things. People can make you feel insecure only if you allow them to do so.
“Believe in yourself and remember a woman is a complete package in herself. She is strong enough to do any task and efficiently do many tasks at once too. So have a passion, dare to dream and work hard to get it. You have one life to live. So live it to the fullest,” she says.
(The writer can be reached at email@example.com)