India is on the cusp of transition from a conservative, hierarchical, male-dominated society to a modern, egalitarian, and liberal economy, in which women are increasingly playing a significant role. Indian women are breaking loose their shackles, overcoming traditional stereotypes on multiple fronts, and have become a key component of the workforce, especially in sunrise sectors such as IT services.
This change wasn’t easy, and didn’t come without a struggle. Generations of women had to fight for an equal footing in educational opportunities and employment. It is refreshing to see hundreds of thousands of young women become a critical part of the Indian IT juggernaut, and drive it to a leading position in the world.
The opportunity to be a part of this global industry also poses some additional challenges. Very often, one is required to travel to far flung locations across the world, and sometimes live there for an extended period of time. Given our inherently conservative nature, many Indian women are still reluctant to travel on work. Even though vacationing and leisure travel are fast becoming a part of lifestyle for Indian middle class families, many women are reluctant and tend to shy away from work-related travel.
There are a few genuine apprehensions such as safety, and fear of staying in new and unfamiliar places, but they should not hold you back. Compared to the past, it is far more easier and comfortable to travel now, with many cities boasting of world-class infrastructure, designed for the global traveler. Standards of safety, hygiene, and comfort are vastly superior to anything that we have witnessed in the recent past.
But, many Indian women still have a few unfounded (not unreasonable though) apprehensions such as: What should I wear? How should I present myself, is it safe to stay alone? etc. It is not at all surprising that the same women don’t have these apprehensions when they travel with their family or friends. So why worry all of a sudden? Is it only because you are travelling alone?
We should be much more self-confident about who we are and how we carry ourselves. Certainly, we should make every effort to look and present ourselves professionally, but that doesn’t call for disregarding our cultural norms, getting out of our comfort zone, and reinventing ourselves into some version of a Barbie doll !
First and foremost, we should remember that we are valued for our professional competence, and all our efforts should be to do justice on that front. Everything else is secondary. We have come a long way in fighting for our due rights, and have won an equal place at the table, and shouldn’t worry about unnecessary and trivial things.
Travel is an opportunity to experience different cultures, explore new places, meet new people and more than anything else, to also have some fun. Why should men alone have all the fun? Women not only have the right, but also deserve to have as much fun as men. It is high time for Indian women to be bold, independent, and confident in not only meeting the challenges, but also in leveraging the opportunities that a professional career offers, which includes global travel.