Geeta Ramakrishnan: Creating a new era of women leadership in India

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Over the years, the role of women in Indian society has typically been one of nurturers and caregivers rather than one of breadwinners or leaders.  Although over the years the role of women in Indian society has progressed and in theory Indian society claims not to discriminate on grounds of gender, yet in actual practice  women encounter many hurdles if they participate or lead in a male-dominated field. Geeta Ramakrishnan

28 year old Geeta Ramakrishnan has embarked on a journey to  inspire and empower young women from across India to participate in policy and social development of the country. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Geeta has traveled extensively and has a profound understanding of grassroots India. She is a Master of Commerce and a Certified Fraud Examiner by qualification and a Strategy Consultant by profession. She has consulted for companies like Ernst & Young and currently runs development-consulting projects for several Indian Parliamentarians to help them solve some of the key challenges faced by those living at the Base of the Pyramid. In collaboration with Harvard’s South Asia Institute and Swaniti Initiative she has piloted a program called Kavya, a nationwide program to empower women in policy & social development.

Behind every changemaker and his/her passion to disrupt existing societal malpractices there is always a story. So what is Geeta’s story?

In an interview with Forbes Geeta shared her experiences that prompted her to fix the problem of gender bias against female leadership in India. She talked of the time when she was appointed to work with an Indian Parliamentarian in his constituency to solve development issues. However just before the project could start her appointment was cancelled on grounds that a woman would turn out to be a liability. Though she was finally able to change his notion, that experience proved to be the turning point in her life.

She realized that even today women continue to be bracketed only in three categories viz mother, spouse or child and the prevailing mindset can be changed only when women assume leadership positions. With that resolve she  started the Kavya program.

The inaugural Kavya Conference was held on April 13, 2013, at Welingkar School of Management (WeSchool) in Mumbai. The day-long, seminar-style program saw participation from 36 young women from various walks of life, such as corporate women, consultants, social researchers, entrepreneurs, and master students. If all goes to plan, Geeta hopes that the conference will soon lead to a yearlong program, connecting women with mentors to help them build on their development solutions, implement them as sustainable programs, and help them overcome many of the barriers they may face.

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