A large number of women are better in managing and leading teams effectively for a common cause. They may be of any age group, from any family, literate or illiterate. They only need to understand the purpose and the objectives of the task to manage. Most of them possess an inner spirit which gets triggered if inspired through required training.
For instance, the case of the former Chairman of the State Bank of India (SBI) Arundhati Bhattacharya who was adjudged as the 25th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes and the only Indian corporate leader listed on Fortune’s world’s greatest leaders list, ranked at the 26th position or Subhasini Mistry who toiled for years as a manual labourer, a housemaid and a vegetable-seller before setting up the Humanity Trust, a hospital in Kolkata for free treatment of poor patients.
A scholar Arundhati Bhattacharya joined the SBI as probationary officer and later held several key positions in the bank. She introduced the two-year sabbatical leave policy for the bank’s female employees to be used either for maternity or elder care and also introduced free vaccination against cervical cancer for the bank’s female employees.
At 70, Subhasini Mistry can look back with satisfaction at a two-storied building, her lived dream of a hospital for the poor. This was all because she couldn’t afford proper medical treatment for her ailing husband and became a widow at 23.
She took to brick-laying and other manual work to supplement her meagre income. She decided that she would educate one of her sons to be a doctor. Unfortunately, the other two sons had to placed in an orphanage. After 30 years of saving, she could buy a plot of land where a hospital would be gradually built. Her youngest son is serving as doctor. Her courage, determination and commitment towards the society was well-appreciated by the government and she was awarded a Padmasree.
Few poor and ordinary women of the Tiljala slum area have also scripted a collective success story. The male members in this locality normally fall prey to negative influences and indulge in drug addiction and abuse. The women here often get assaulted by male members who are mostly unemployed, illiterate and drug users - who put themselves as well as others - at risk.
A few of these oppressed women of above mentioned locality met the members of Society for Community Intervention and Research (SCIR) and expressed their grief and helplessness and requested for jobs. Since slum women take bath in open community taps and face several problems due to the scarcity of toilet facilities, they agreed to run and manage a pay and use toilet which was later named ‘Suchita’. They also agreed to join an ‘Adult Education’ course for a few months to understand easy calculation.
The Suchita project was completed with the cooperation from the local municipal corporation and from SCIR. After completion, this group of women reached out to other women and informed them about the toilet facilities that were available at minimal charges. With shifting duties from 6 a.m to 10 a.m, six ladies got direct engagement in this project. Initially the collection was about Rs. 5000 which gradually rose to Rs. 43000 per month and a portion of this money was used to buy phenyl, bleaching powder and broomsticks to keep this facility clean and also used to pay the electricity bill.
After the success of this initiative that was very well-taken by the local women, this group has also initiated a primary school, a tailoring training centre, a bridge course for drop out girls and a medical clinic for local women where a reputed lady gynecologist renders free treatment and also distributes free medicines to patients.
The school initially started with three students and the student strength has now gone up to 190. Over time, 700 local women have been trained in tailoring and many are earning their livelihood from rendering tailoring services. The bridge course has started for senior drop out girls who have started availing this service in spite of strong resistance from male members. Many of these girls have performed well in their higher secondary examinations. Inspired by their achievements, 37 more drop out girls have joined the bridge course.
The environment of the locality has taken a better turn due to the efforts of these women. Their initiatives prove that women have the power to bring positive change. Innate qualities in women like empathy, discipline, honesty, sense of responsibility make them natural leaders.