Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives
July 2007 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Shahnaz Hussain
Pioneer and Leader of herbal care in India
She is also a pioneer of Vocational Training in Cosmetology in India.

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  • Many approaches have been suggested to rid gender inequality. However, most of them seem to address the symptoms, rather than the sources. What are the best ways to tackle the sources? What can be the steps to root out sources of discrimination and score possible wins?
    There was a time when woman was "the forgotten gender". Thankfully, the scene has changed and is still changing for the better. Among the factors which have brought about the change is that women themselves have questioned the gender bias and struggled against it. They have also contributed significantly towards balancing the gender equation. Indeed, it is up to the woman to bend the gender

    equation. There is no doubt that the gender equation in all fields of professional life is a reflection of the gender equation in our society and social life. The incongruity is so apparent in the Indian context. We have female foeticide on the one hand and the new age woman on the other, who has made a mark in the corporate and business world. And, it is still a question of surmounting barriers to seek equality.

    In Tagore's play Chitrangada, the heroine Chitra tells her husband, "I am Chitra. No goddess to be worshipped, nor yet the object of common pity to be brushed aside like a moth with indifference. If you design to keepme by your side in the path of danger and daring, if you allow me to share the great duties of your life, then you will know my true self." In her book, My Truth, Indira Gandhi has written, "Men will not know their true selves until and unless they allow women to develop their full potential…. I can say that I do not want women to imitate men, but to have better opportunities for the development of their personality. Men and women together can help create a better society and a better world. In this, there should be no question of class, creed or sex."

    Indira Gandhi has said that what is remarkable about Indian women is not their achievements in different fields, but the fact that they have been able to break through the prejudices and barriers. She has written, "The Indian concept of women has been governed by two parallel currents—the visible one of the woman in a subordinate role, the weak one; and underlying it, that of woman as the symbol of energy, the active principle. For the few women, whose names are known, there are the millions of unknown who have shaped the course of nations by their own activity or by the influence they have wielded on their families."

    The basis of gender is not merely a sexual one. The biological nature of the male and female is the reason why the man assumed the dominant role. Gender is very much a part of human life. The sexual division of labor developed because of biological reasons. The woman could not venture forth as she was tied to her functions of childbirth and lactation. The man became "the hunter" and woman "the gatherer". Subsequent social condi tioning reinforced the assumptions of these roles. As a child, the boy is given guns to play with, while the girl plays with dolls. The idea that the boy will grow up to be the "protector" and the girl "the protected" is instilled from childhood and so is the idea of the woman being the weaker sex. This meant that the boy should be given al l the opportunities so that he can earn and support his wife and family. The girl did not need it. All she had to do was to procreate and tend to the children and family. She was instructed on how to cook and keep a house and how to tend to the men in the house, be it her father, brothers or husband. Thus, the female identity developed. The fact remains that whether a woman is educated or not, she wants to be respected and treated equally. That is also inherent in her nature.

1. Women Executives/CEOs Case Studies
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

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