Growing up we see our parents toil for our better future − equally. Yet somehow fathers get to be the superhero and mothers are generally side-lined in due course. Men get the upper hand being the breadwinner, whereas women, as they are ‘expected’ at times, have to forgo their dreams and passions for the sake of family. However, a conscious change of thought has come about and women are recognised for who they are and what they are worth.
Women stood on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organisers and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. The crisis highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the disproportionate burden that women have always carried. Look around, and you’ll notice that women have always been powerful agents of change. Women as leaders, as decision-makers at all levels, are crucial to advancing gender justice and equality and furthering economic and social progress for all.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, celebrated the tremendous efforts by women, around the world, towards shaping a more equalised future and contributing towards recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we're all responsible for our own thoughts and actions − all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women's achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge the chauvinism, bigotry, imbalance, inequality, social status conundrum, workplace disparity, and basic human acceptance.
Architecture has, for long, been a male-dominated industry that has continued to face difficulties with issues of diversity and inclusion. Though there is progress happening, it is slow. There is still much to do to achieve equality, not only within the architectural community, but in our society as a whole.
It is not easy to fight past inequitable pay, lack of advancement opportunities, inflexible schedules, and long hours that might be incompatible with raising a family or maintaining a work-life balance. Not only does this “brain drain” deprive the profession of outstanding designers, who help represent the diversity of the clients the profession serves, it also hurts the Industry’s reputation at a time when designers are still fighting to be understood and valued in the marketplace.
While there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made to achieve gender equality within the profession, it’s a stated fact that women are behind some of the most recognisable and inspiring projects. In light of this event, the Jaquar Design Confab, held last month, honoured and celebrated the female powerhouses in the field of design and architecture.
Titled Me to We, this edition of the esteemed forum was a dialogue with some of the most incredible, fabulous and accomplished women professionals who are making waves in the AEC industry. We are already witnessing how women have shaped the architectural landscape and how their entrepreneurial acumen is influencing industry trends; the panel discussion further explores and addresses the varied issues faced by women in design and offers insights into the challenges, successes, and journey that got these incredible women where they are today. The aim was not just to help foster an open dialogue on current and future design practices between women designers of global repute in India, but to also inspire and embolden the younger generation.
Shedding light on the conceptual genesis of this platform, Mohit Hajela, group head, business development, Jaquar Group, stated “When it comes to designing built forms, the contribution from women is massive. However, many times women designers are not recognised and given the opportunity to reach the heights that enable them to lend their true creative ingenuity.”
Continuing on this thread, Husna Rahaman, principal creative director, Fulcrum Studio and her extraordinary panel of strong-willed women conversed wholeheartedly on this topic and opened up about their journeys and hardships in their careers. The string binding them together is the thought of creative consciousness and the struggle they had to face to make their mark. Speaking on behalf of everyone Husna said, “We see the world not for what it could be but for what it should be; not for what it is, but for what a chillingly unambiguous times it absolutely must be. So today we tell our stories, because if we women don’t tell our stories, who will? It’s high time women are heard because it’s been centuries that the stories of women have been silenced. We stand upon the shoulders of the women whose dreams have been obliterated, whose ambitions have been thwarted, but today we have the voice.”
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