FICCI FLO Hyderabad Chapter celebrates Women’s Day Eve by organising an interactive session with two legendary icons and women achievers acclaimed dancer and activist Ms. Mallika Sarabhai and renowned interior designer and Architectural Restorer Ms. Sunita Kohli here in city today.
About 150 women professionals and entrepreneurs listened attentively as the two speakers recounted their creative and commercial journey and spoke about women empowerment. Mothers of Past Chairs of FLO Hyderabad Chapter along with the two Chief Guests for the evening inaugurated the session on the eve of International Women’s Day. Entrepreneur, Writer, Producer Ms. Nita Khanna was the moderator for the session named ‘Trail Blazers – Creativity, Enterprise and Empowerment’. On the eve of Women’s Day the Past Chairs of FLO Hyderabad were honoured.
Ms. Sona Chatwani, Chairperson, FICCI Ladies Organisation – Hyderabad Chapter in her welcome address said that it’s a privilege for FLO to have such illustrious personalities with us on the eve of Women’s day. What they have achieved is unparallel. Both of them are great inspiration. With their multifaceted achievements each one of them has redefined the role of women in today’s context, Ms. Chatwani said.
Speaking about her life and journey 73 year old Ms. Sunita Kohli said that she grew up in Lucknow. She was born in Lahore in undivided India. Her father and mother moved to Lucknow later. The story of her Mother and Father is the story of displacement which is replicated a lot in North India. My Father and Mother gave me education and their value systems, she said. Lucknow and Hyderabad too have deeply secular values, she opined. The Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb that I had growing up in Lucknow influenced my life, Ms. Kohli stated.
Speaking on how she started in her creative career, Ms. Sunita Kohli said that creativity is the ability to conceptualize. It comes with several influences in our life. It can come from anywhere and any place you see, hear or from even a phrase from poet Rumi. She opined that travel adds to one’s visual education and that there is no substitution for education and research.
Interior Designing was an unplanned profession, Ms. Kohli said. I taught myself the nuts and bolts of interior design and aesthetics. When I started there were no barriers. If you can do the work you were given the work. Feminism, Enabler, Influencer were not part of our lexicon when we were working. All our drawings / perspectives were hand drawn, she said. Nowadays if someone designs something, they click 20 pics of the same and flood the Facebook and Instagram. We did not have social media then, she said. Feminism is a western concept, I did not face any bias in my work, Ms. Kohli said.
Speaking about empowered women, Ms. Sunita Kohli said that ‘empowered women’ is contextual in society and is relative. For me it is the ability to empower others. We are privileged to be educated. We must to something for the less privileged, everybody can do something, she said. Every educated woman’s duty is to see others are educated, she stated. You might be a designer, but that is just one aspect of your life, we are much more, she opined.
Commenting on the success and how we measure success of women, Ms. Kohli said that success is relative. One is as successful as your last project. You are as good as your last project and you are as good as much as you give, she said.
Acclaimed dancer Ms. Mallika Sarabhai addressing the media prior to the interactive session wished more power to women on the eve of international women’s day. Women are the driving force within family and outside, she said. She said that gathering like these bring attention to women empowerment. It brings to forefront and lays emphasis on women empowerment.
Addressing the gathering at the interactive session, Ms. Mallika Sarabhai said that Social Media is fire. It can purify or burn. But, we are using it to burn. Social media has power to transform. But, we are using to spread venom. I get lot of hate mails, because of the views I have. In the year 2002, I started speaking against the government. But, in the year 2010, I decided to write back to each person who posted a hate mail. Believe me, 50 per cent write back to me and said that they didn’t expect me not only read but also respond. They felt bad and repented for posting the hate mail. When we get hate mails like that, we must engage them she said.
Speaking about power of ‘one’ in rapid fire round she said one person can start a storm, one person can create history. One can do many.
Giving her views on ‘Me Too’, Mallika said, it took tremendous courage for women to lead “Me Too” movement. It is very important movement. It is quite natural for some to exploit it, but that is fine.
Mallika Sarabhai said that India is going through an intense transitional phase where women are standing up and are being seen on streets fighting for the idea of India. Women have found their calling and democracy is being celebrated at its best, she stated.
The Society is changing but it should change faster. Today we have men who can say that I want to be a Chef; I want to be a House-husband. Women have to bring up children to be human beings / persons first, not just a Hindu or a Muslim. Good health and literacy are key to women empowerment, she said. Joining in renowned Interior Designer Ms. Sunita Kohli said that it is women who have to bring up children differently. Society will not change. Literacy is the key to bring about a change, she opined.
Women have so many identities… daughter, wife, mother, career woman… we allow society to brand us in gender, religion or caste. We allow us to be cast in a mould, but women are much more. We copy the West but we are much better. We have a tendency to copy bad things a lot. We are more than gender. We are not consumers. We must find out souls as human beings commented Ms. Mallika Sarabhai. Though we are born as human beings but we have to learn to be human beings, she stated. I always make it a point to speak at gatherings so that at least in those 500 people, five many change. And those five may change others, she added.
Dance is in my DNA, it is what gives me strength and energy for all other activities, she said when she was asked about the role of dance in her life.
FLO Hyderabad Chairperson Ms. Sona Chatwani shared that out of 150 plus ladies of the toddy selling Dhoolpet community trained in vocational courses by them are being offered jobs. FLO organized training in different vocations like pickle making, cooking, jute bag making, beauty, Mehendi application, and even computer basics. Fifteen ladies were granted micro loans in liaison with Oriental BGank of Commerce, she shared. We also tied up with CIE – Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at IIIT-Hyderabad – to encourage startups in the areas of deep tech and med tech. FLO Hyderabad steps into its 20th year.
FLO also honoured its past chairpersons