लड़कियों को पढ़ाओगे तो वो बहुत कुछ कर सकती हैं।
Redefining the Balance – Challenging Gender Stereotypes
As a young girl pursuing graduation along with CS, I recognized an eagerness within me to contribute towards people’s welfare and help society. This led to my aspiration of being a civil servant. Belonging to a society having a deep-rooted patriarchal mindset; my father had constant pressure from relatives who ridiculed him by saying things like “yeh toh ladki hai isko itna padhake kya karoge”.
I grew up in an atmosphere of conservatism, orthodoxy and the reality expected for me was grim. But I am grateful to have been born to parents who were progressive & enabled me to decide the calling of my own to become an IAS officer.
From 2004-2007, I pursued my job in CS, along with LLB and preparations for Civil services.
By God’s grace, support of my family and my focused hard work, I cleared the Civil services exam & became an IAS Officer in 2008 with an AIR 13.
However, challenges don’t stop merely at becoming an officer. Stepping into the field for public service delivery is quite gruelling at times, especially in an ecosystem wherein more than 70 per cent of the workforce working is men. It’s a constant struggle for women officers to keep proving ourselves and our capabilities time and again.
There is dynamic paraphernalia that affects your working and public service delivery. You can neither decide your boss nor your subordinates while you work in government.
There may also be instances where we come across anxiety and stress while facing a substantial number of vulnerabilities. Transfer, unquestionably, is a major issue and adjustment in the family becomes difficult when your spouse is also working.
Women officers, especially, continue to face constraints to strike a balance between professional and personal life. In this field, I learnt to be an honest judge of myself, have a strong sense of integrity, compassion for people less privileged and connect to society along with team building through leadership.
Here I don’t blame anyone, but we all need to understand that this strong biased mindset in our society is a reflection of our own progression. Many things ofcourse have been changing for good, with more women in bureaucracy at top echelons. Women officers across the country have been making their strides in all fields. A lot more, however, needs to be done for sure!
In my 13 years of public service, I realized that the right intentions are supported sooner or later. Your conviction and determination matters to be the most important.
From a girl who had always stayed in the conservative protected environment of home to a woman serving the people in different parts of the country, this is the rediscovering reality for myself, This is ME!
I hope this journey continues to go a long way. Like me, I wish for many other young girls to voice out their opinion and follow their dreams. Face the ordeals in life with your own resilience. And people who try to discriminate or pin down a girl’s aspirations, please note that the times are changing.
Let us all support the girls around us to empower them.
Do not forget - Even Sky is not the Limit!
Sonal Goel IAS