WorkWomen Must Choose ‘Very Carefully’ When to Become Mother: Kiran Bedi

Speaking at an event ahead of International Women’s Day, she urged that society, especially parents and schools, must encourage girls to take up sports, which teach leadership qualities.

Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi on Saturday pitched for grooming of girls at par with boys at home to shape future leaders out of them, even as she asserted that working women must choose “very carefully” when to become mother as it affects their career. Speaking at an event on ‘Women Power, A Global Movement’, ahead of International’s Women’s Day, she urged that society, especially parents and schools, must encourage girls to take up sports, which teach leadership qualities.

India’s first woman IPS officer even shared some experiences from her recent interaction with a group of students at a school in Karnataka to drive home her point about the challenges girls face while getting their education and the barriers they have to overcome to emerge as a leader. In her message on equality between men and women, she also suggested that self-reliance was a key to women’s empowerment.

“You should not marry unless you are economically independent, or unless someone chooses to be a homemaker, and it is not an imposed decision,” she said. Bedi, former Lt Governor of Puducherry, also spoke about the challenges a working woman faces after becoming a mother when balancing both career and home while raising children.

The former top cop, who received a rousing reception from an audience full of women, spoke in a very dynamic way and pitched for creating an environment for girl children to be shaped into leaders of tomorrow, as also for women at workplace, which allows them to prosper, while maintaining career and positions of leadership. She lamented that it “doesn’t generally suit social and political leaders, to say this categorically, as there are a lot of conservative, patriarchal elements in society with an entrenched mindset”.

Bedi, in her address, also narrated stories from her childhood and how “playing tennis” at a young age subconsciously fostered in her a sense of leadership. Parenting is critical in laying the foundation for creating women leaders of tomorrow in any field. If girls and boys are groomed equally, it creates an enabling environment and shapes leaders out of girls, she said.

She also offered leadership concerns for working women and mentioned some of the challenges they face at home or the workplace after becoming a mother. “Working women must choose very carefully when to become a mother,” the former IPS officer said, adding a nanny can never replace a mother, whom a child seeks while being raised.

Bedi thanked her mother for helping her survive the rigours of her career when she donned the khaki uniform to serve society as an IPS officer. “My mother ensured I came back home to warm food, warm bed, clean home, children are taken care of while I worked,” she recalled.

The programme was hosted by Global Talent in association with Assocham and other partners. Several women achievers were awarded and felicitated on the occasion.

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