Closing the Societal Gap for Women in India: An Interview With Sairee Chahal

By Randi Zuckerberg

April 4, 2017 5 min read

I have been to India a few times and am always saddened to hear from Indian women who tell me about the many glass ceilings there are to break in their country because women are so set back from growth. Sairee Chahal has been working for years with the women of India in her heart. She is doing amazing work to help foster their careers.

That is why I support this woman's work.

Sairee Chahal is the founder and CEO of Sheroes, an online career destination for women. The Sheroes community has access to high-growth career resources, mentorship and support. Sheroes engages with businesses to help them connect with female talent in the form of employees, partners, customers and business owners.

1) What inspired you to start Sheroes?

Sheroes is inspired by the need to put women's aspirations and their careers on the nation-building map. Gender disparity is a real issue globally and is more acute in India. Women's access to financial growth, economic opportunities, jobs, top technology, networks, funding, resources, education, skilling is way too low, and as a high-growth large middle-class country, there is an opportunity to create upward mobility for millions of women across India.

Sheroes is a platform solution to a large social challenge and also offers women a reference, a go-to to build up their own lives, aspirations, careers. Sheroes is a technology company that helps close the gender gap in India.

2) What are the major challenges currently facing the women in India?

Lives of women are not easy. They run the caregiving economy. After they run their homes and big families, when they step into a workplace, the pace of change in the system and in society has been slow to make things happen for them. Every woman who has a job has two jobs in reality — one paid, one unpaid. There are also huge stereotypes around roles and responsibilities of women apart from systemic challenges like unsafe public spaces, lesser access to financial resources, property, higher education, etc.

Lives of women across India are complex and have potential to improve by building scalable solutions like Sheroes.

3) How are flexible job opportunities helping women get back into the workforce?

Flexible work and remote work is one of the biggest enablers for women to stay connected to their lives and also keep moving up professionally. As #futureofwork trends point out, work is more and more modular, more virtual, more result-oriented and more collaborative. Women stand to gain from it. Sheroes is one of the largest aggregators of work-from-home opportunities for women besides helping companies build and manage large-format remote programs. It is a win-win for all stakeholders — as more and more women stay connected to work — and helps women win as independent financial members of the family.

4) What does ambition mean to the women of India?

Ambition is still an elite term for most women in India. However, slowly the barriers are breaking. For most women, ambition means being able to find a sense of identity, keep their self-esteem and have adequate resources to be independent owners of their destiny. However, reality of this is very different. Though India produces the maximum number of women graduates in the world, there is still a large societal gap which makes it hard for most women to plug into the big world of growth and prosperity.

5) How can men play a role in the gender bias discussion?

Men are key stakeholders in being sponsors and owners of the gender balance movement. Men are also primary resource owners in most cases and can be role models to make the shift. However, the absolute numbers of these men would be supremely low, as patriarchy rules large.

More men into the conversation, more ownership and invitation for them into the caregiving economy and more breaking of stereotypes for them would be important.

Randi Zuckerberg is the founder of Zuckerberg Media, a best-selling author and the host of a weekly business show on SiriusXM, "Dot Complicated." To find out more about Randi Zuckerberg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.

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