Women are the face of change in India

Yesterday I had the opportunity yesterday to lead a change management / project management workshop for 3 brilliant women from Villgro. It was a great idea suggested by the Australian on our team. She recognized that we could only have so much of an impact in four weeks, but if we could equip them to keep the momentum going, they have a better chance to make our recommendations a reality. We’d actually planned to just have 2 of the ladies in there, but a 3rd asked if she could join because she is passionate about helping Villgro transform. Can’t remember the last time a client asked to come to an all-day workshop for something that isn’t on their performance plan. Very nice.

Even though change management and project management are my bread and butter, this made me more nervous than when I led the Design Thinking workshop. It was going to be much more detailed, and I expected that they’d ask some very thought-provoking questions. After the intense amount of work we’d already put in, would we have the brain power left to really give good guidance? And did I mention that our party crasher (whom I adore) went to Harvard? Because that isn’t at all intimidating… Yikes. Luckily my Aussie pal is a great color commentator and contributor, and between the two of us talking and a very attentive and sharp audience, the 7 hours flew by.

So why the title for this entry? I see a major shift between the generations in India. Young women feel empowered and are willing to push for change. We covered a wide range of ages in the room: 22, 29, 31, 38, and 45. We talked about how the women in India who are my age (aka the Gen X’ers) were more complacent. They recognized the challenges in the country but didn’t have the power to do anything. However, and this is awesome, they DID raise daughters with the knowledge that they could and should be treated as equals, and that they would be the pioneers of change. We also discussed the difference between generations in general, and how their leadership doesn’t communicate with them the way that most employees would like, because they are from my generation. We’re not as big on feedback as millennials are. They started to think about how they should approach change and projects in a way that the older workers would relate better to, while still giving them the opportunities that millenials crave. As we discussed how corporations run, these ladies were immediately noticing the gaps in how they currently work, and we collaborated to come up with some ideas to make change happen. They took to the concepts of project management and change management incredibly well.

They face a difficult road ahead. Big business in India is still dominated by men. I have no doubt that these ladies have the skills to one day lead a major corporation, but it will be even harder for them than it is for American women (and we think we have a glass ceiling? theirs is lead). Because men are still seen as the breadwinner, you see more women in NGOs where the pay is less but their passion for contributing to the betterment of the country is fulfilled. That means that women are really the ones on the front line of battling poverty, abuse, child labor, health care gaps, etc. They are the face of India’s future.

Woman power! Go Heera, Chaarvi, and Kavita!!!

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