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“One third of India’s people are now ruled by chief ministers who are women …”

31 May

… according to a recent article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.

He goes on to say that the newly elected chief minister of West Bengal is the “dynamo”, Mamata Banerjee, part of a broader trend of “charismatic female politicians”; read the rest of his article here.

Goan progress

26 Feb

I’ve been in Goa for the last two weeks,  interviewing a range of very different women for the book and hearing some amazing – if heart rending – stories.

Sangeetha’s story is shared over at the Gender Blog.  This photo shows her,  second from right, with two of her three children.  She now earns £14 per MONTH.  Click the article link to read more …

Mumbai calling

11 Feb

Day one of the interviews for Mother India went extremely well,  with my two different but extremely charming and articulate interviewees speaking very frankly into my mini-recorder (which, thankfully, worked!).  It was fascinating to hear them talk so freely and fluently about their lives to dates,  their hopes for the future,  their thoughts in a broader sense on the Indian economy and the part that women have to play in it.

I asked them both about the recently reported news story that there’s no such thing as a glass ceiling for women in India – and,  somewhat to my surprise,  they agreed with the sentiment,  suggesting that the capacity of Indian women to progress is limited only by themselves and their self-belief,  rather than by corporate “gender asbestos” as Avivah Wittenberg-Cox calls it.

Tomorrow,  I fly to Goa,  where I’m hoping to talk to some rather different women – those who travel to India’s smallest but richest state in order to work for six months and to profit from the many thousands of tourists who flock there.

The first interviews

8 Feb

I leave for Mumbai this evening and will be undertaking my first interviews for Mother India on Thursday and Friday.  As I had hoped would be the case,  I’ve already managed to secure three very different women as interview subjects: a young MBA student, a former Bollywood star and a senior VP in a global investment bank.

It’s also been great to receive such positive feedback on the idea of the book,  with my first interview subject commenting that:

I’m also thanking you on behalf of all Indian women for taking up a topic such as this, which is not known or understood in totality to the western world. Your project sounds wonderful and I’d be more than happy to help in any way.”

All three interviewees have commented on the proposed title of the book and have asked me if I was aware that it’s also the title of an iconic, award winning Indian film from 1957.  The answer is “yes!” – and,  as I replied to one questioner, the book in part is about acknowledging the film’s iconic place in Indian culture and reflecting it in the title of my book,  by bringing the phrase into this new century and using it as a reference to a role that was,  perhaps, once the only way in which Indian women were known and acknowledged.

But, no longer.

More updates to follow from Mumbai.  I’m so excited to be returning.

Remember,  if you’d like to be part of the book or to suggest possible interview subjects for me,  please get in touch – thank you.

Welcome to “Mother India” – a forthcoming book about the role and impact of women in twenty-first century India

30 Jan

“If you wish to learn about India, study her villages and women …”

India, the world’s largest democracy and its second most populous nation, is a place  of endless contrasts and extremes: wealth and poverty, billionaires and illiteracy, mansions and slums. It is a country in which Goddesses are worshipped and where women have occupied the highest positions in the land – and yet it remains a patriarchal society in which only 23% * of the female population fuel India’s extraordinary economic growth.

So who are the women creating twenty-first century India? Urban and rural, from politicians to entrepreneurs,  mothers-in-law to daughters, students to illiterate fruit sellers, corporate high flyers to doctors, teachers to Bollywood stars, call centre workers to housewives: Indian women have many guises.

Mother India tells their stories – and depicts a country which is not so much a single nation but rather a million different ones, separate but linked.

Authored by  Cleo Thompson,  Mother India contains interviews with women from all over the sub-continent and  gives them a voice for the first time.  Passionate about India since her first visit there in 1999, Cleo is a freelance writer who specialises in all aspects of diversity and global HR stories – click here to read her profile.

And,  if you are an Indian woman based in the sub-continent,  please use the Comments section below if you’d be interested in sharing your story and contributing to Mother India

World Economic Forum, Corporate Gender Gap, 2010