Women's Empowerment



Home-Based Vocations

Mrs. Biswas was a regular homemaker. She had discontinued work after getting married. She always intended to go back to work, but household responsibilities and children kept her occupied so she was unable to resume her job. Now, however, the children had grown up and Mrs. Biswas wanted to fulfil her cherished dream of being financially independent. But the problem was that she didn’t know where to start and who to approach due to the long time gap. She felt confused and helpless, and wondered what to do!

Mrs. Akolkar was drawing a neat salary from a multinational company. One dreadful day the organisation decided to retrench staff. She happened to be one of them. Although she got a decent Voluntary Retirement Scheme package, her self-worth became nil. She was at a stage in life when it is difficult to get a new job.
The answer to both the above situations could be the possibility of starting a home-based vocation.

What Is a Home-Based Vocation?
As the name suggests, home-based professions are those which one can operate from home, need not be confined from nine to five and yet can be financially independent. This is in contrast to the common belief—“Careers are in the Corporate field only.?There are numerous examples of ladies offering various products or services from their home, making the most of their time and talent.

Who Is This For?
This field could be for:
a) Individuals who had to discontinue work for a particular reason (family pressure, illness, work pressure, etc.) and were unable to get back to it.
b) Individuals who prefer to be their own boss and dislike working under restricted timings.
c) Individuals who want to utilise their skills to be financially independent.

Which Are the Services/Professions?
If you are wondering how to get started on a home-based vocation, just think about any skill you possess and how you could utilise it to benefit the market and voila, you have your own specialised and specific home-based vocation.

Let’s take a look at some of the options available:

Beauty Care: Women and beauty go hand in hand. Our customs, festivals and social gatherings demand a lot of celebration. Looking good is of prime importance to each and every individual. One can always start a beauty parlour (even at home to begin with) and focus on any one area you feel you are comfortable with, such as hair care and cutting, skin care, make-up, draping, preparing indigenous beauty products, massage, and so on. We are all familiar with the success stories of Shahnaz Hussain and Urjita Jain.

Hobby/Art and Craft Classes: A hobby is a part and parcel of every individual, from collecting butterflies or stamps, listening to music, reading, or gardening. A hobby also encompasses a lot of creative work, which many look forward to but are unable to do due to lack of technical knowledge. Often we hear about people who have turned their hobbies into careers. One can start by teaching various products/techniques to various age groups. One could start creative classes in glass painting, clay work, fibre statues, jharokhas, lamasa, murals and paper/m-seal jewellery, silk/ceramic painting, Tanjore/Mysore painting, mixed-media murals, preparing bookmarks, gift baskets, envelopes, ceramic and pot painting, mehendi, canvas painting, embossing, making handmade paper, candle-making, diya decoration, nib painting, etc. Further, one can also supply such creations to various shops, arrange exhibitions and so on.

Nursery: An individual who enjoys being with toddlers, is good at teaching and has ample patience and creativity, can try and utilise this skill by having his/her own nursery. One can always begin with children in the neighbourhood to gain experience. A team of ladies to start this activity would be ideal. A diploma in Early Childhood Care would be an added advantage.

Crèche: Taking care of infants and toddlers with ease and expertise is the mantra for this field. In today’s world with the increase in nuclear families, working couples have created the need for crèches. One can start such a set-up in one’s own house without any investment.

Cooking Classes and Catering Services: Cooking is no longer looked down upon as a woman’s arena. Today, there are a lot of specialty foods like diet food for weight-conscious people or those with medical problems, snacks and the unending variety of cuisines— Chinese, Italian, Mexican, Lebanese, Moghlai, and so on. One can even cater only diet juices to health-conscious people. Catering orders for various sections of society such as nurseries, school canteens, company employees, bachelors, paying guests, hostel canteens, etc. also can widen the scope beyond one’s house and family members. Tarla Dalal is an exemplary example of this.

Tailoring Classes: One can also stitch for others as well as teach tailoring. Orders can be taken for all kinds of dress wear, thus opening up avenues for oneself. 

Embroidery, Crochet, etc.: There are a lot of artistic hands involved in making intricate and eye-catching designs. Numerous articles like purses, laces, household articles, dress designs and so on can be made. 

Culture Classes: Indian culture, one of the oldest known to mankind, is slowly losing its values and customs. With society modernising every day and parents unable to impart the correct knowledge or unable to give adequate time for the same, the need is strongly felt for culture classes to teach religious values, hymns and norms. 

Flower Arrangements: Making aesthetic flower arrangements or even making artificial flowers could be a profitable business. Sounds surprising, doesn’t it? However, hotels, parties, weddings, restaurants, companies and even certain families require someone to change the flower arrangements regularly. 

Direct Marketing: There is always scope to be a direct marketeer. One can get into the marketing of products such as Avon, Tupperware, Oriflame, Amway, etc. 

Gardening and Plant Nursery: Gardening is a fascinating hobby whose success depends on your knowledge about plants and their care. You could start up a nursery. However, one needs to have sufficient space, water and also know-how about soil, flora and fauna. 

Packing and Gift-Wrapping: Presentation is an art not mastered by all. If you feel you have it, you could be of use to families who have to give shagun during weddings, children’s parties, etc. 

Tuition Classes: The most apparent and widely given services from one’s home, tuition classes can be given to any age group, on any subject and without any investment.

DTP/Web Designing: Computers have become a must in this modern world. One can start taking orders from companies, banks, etc. for doing data entry. A course in web designing can open the doors for hosting websites.

Yoga Classes: One can start yoga and meditation classes. The most important requirement is an in-depth knowledge of yoga.

Music and Dance Classes: A person who has acquired proficiency and mastered the field can hold classes.

Freelance Writers: Those with a flair for writing can take up assignments with various magazines, newspapers, or publications in media or web. The areas could differ from technical information to medicine to skin care.

Trousseau Packing: With the new era of flamboyant weddings and parties, trousseau packing is also quite a rage.

Consultancy: Years of work in a particular field, like finance, tax, law or marketing opens up a new arena for consultancy, where the knowledge acquired and past experience can be utilised for others who need guidance.

What Do You Need?
Apart from skills, you require certain personality traits to be successful:
Hard Work
Marketing Skills
Risk-taking Ability
Understanding of Finance
So, if you feel you possess certain skills that you could utilise, you could make use of some of the above-mentioned tips and carve your own niche. Remember, if charity begins at home, so can a vocation.

Swati Salunkhe
Managing Director
Growth Centre (I) Pvt. Ltd.
Tel: 2528 8844/7474
E-mail: growthc@yahoo.com

Responsible For Their Own Success

All of you in the audience are young and know only the present, let me give you some idea of what it was like when I began in industry 35 years ago. I was one of the earliest woman managers in a large diversified office which already had half a century behind it. I soon realised that the men did not know what to make of me and how to treat me. I was a medical doctor, clearly not desperately in need of money and already had three children. I found that I disturbed the men’s idea of a world in which men and women knew their places. Most believed that I would not be able to take it and that I would soon leave?br>
The First Job:
This was my first job after leaving college 11 years earlier ?my children were school-going and I had no experience of industry. It therefore took me some time to accept that I was being stereotyped ?and the statement, ‘she is a woman after all?was commonly used when I did not behave or respond as the men thought I should. After some months, I knew I had to begin demonstrating that I was a valued member of that office ?not a “woman?member but a member. But personality-wise, I was not “pushy? I was not “bossy? I was in fact very womanly in appearance and soft in speech. I did not have any of the personality traits that a successful executive supposedly has. I knew without doubt that I could not go against my personality and yet find success. Having said that, I also knew that there was one feature of my personality that I would need to amend ?self-effacement. No way was I going to be able to change the attitudes of others to me as a woman executive if I continued to be self-effacing. I had to make my work and my worth known, had to take responsibility for what I was doing and be seen to take responsibility.

Being Visible:
I began by working harder than others. I volunteered for everything ?and showed that I could deliver. I made myself “visible?to all ?quietly visible, but visible none the less. It took about six months when I noticed that attitudes to me began to change. I heard it said that I was “cut out for the job? However, attitudes did not change completely ?and there were times, many of them, when people and their words were hurtful and upsetting. 

Being Assertive and Not Abrasive:
Monetary allowances that men in my position would receive from the company were denied to me because I was a woman and “did I really need these allowances?”I was not going to take this passingly. I began to understand myself ?that I could be quietly assertive and get my work done. I realised that I needed to be consistent in my approach and steel-like in determination. I went through experiences which would have bothered most other women, but I bolstered myself by reminding myself that they would not last. They never did!! Not long after, other women followed me into the organisation and I began to advise them based on my own experiences. I would like to share these experiences with you. The learning from them helped me and may help you. 

Success is Our Own Responsibility:
I believe implicitly that we ourselves are responsible for our own success or non—success ?nobody else. I was not fortunate enough to have a mentor, but if you have, listen and learn. There is a difference between being assertive and being pushy. There is a difference between determination and obstinacy. Ask yourself whether your behaviour is fair to all. If you are convinced that you have been fair, then go ahead ?you have then made the right choice between the options I have just stated. Do not be swayed by the opinions of others if you are convinced of the “fairness?of your attitude.
Self Confidence:
That brings me to the most important quality that a woman needs ?self-confidence. If you do not have this quality, you will waste precious time and energy worrying about what you said and what you should have said. Eleanor Roosevelt said that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. So if you do feel inferior then ask yourself why? Feeling inferior allows the opposite person power which he/she does not deserve.
Sense of Humor:
Cultivate a sense of humour. Laugh at yourself but not at others. 
Admit error genuinely and openly. Inflexibility of thought and attitude is counterproductive. And if you have done well, reward yourself ?there is nothing wrong in doing so. 
If you are in an organization, find out what the organisation demands of you ?if there are value differences, if you are asked to compromise what you believe are your basic, your core principles, leave the organisation. There is no point in wasting your time and energies on that organisation.

Old but Useful Lessons:
I was told many years ago that if I want to learn how to influence people, I had to choose to be one of the following:
Be powerful enough to reward
Be strong enough to bully 
Be principled enough to inspire. 

I was without much experience and at that time, very idealistic. Naturally, I thought there was just one choice that I could make ?the third. It took me years to learn that one uses all three approaches when in an organisation. It goes without saying that I do not mean bribing with money ?I do not mean physically pushing people around ?but without stepping out of the boundaries of one’s own core principles, one can get one’s way by using appropriately all three routes. 

I have some rules of my own that I thought you may be interested in.

  • Always endeavour to exceed expectations, not just meet them
  • Offer to do more in the organisation than what is encompassed in your job profile. 
  • “Fighting?with people takes energy that you could expend in more productive ways.You may need to do this sometimes, to defend your position, but it should not be often otherwise it will drain you. 
  • Laugh at yourself often ?jokes always help. 
  • Do not be cynical or sarcastic. 

Everything has a bright side ?look for it.

I do not regret a minute of the 35 years I spent in industry. I enjoyed myself and continue to do so. You will too if you believe that you are doing what is right and that you are making a difference to the organisation. 

Remind yourself often of the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson:
“Do not go where the path leads. Instead seek your own path ?and leave a trail.?nbsp;
Use your experience to help and advise other women. 

Making a difference:
Never forget that you are admitted into an organisation because you demonstrated at the entry interview that you are capable of making a difference. By making a difference, you enrich the organisation. Thus you will fulfil the obligations that all working persons must have ?men and women ?that when they finally leave the organisation, they leave it a better place than it was when they entered.

My best wishes to you all for a successful and satisfying personal and professional life.

A talk delivered by Dr. Narges Mahaluxmivala, President, Clinical Development Services with Quintiles Spectral (India) Private Limited at a meeting of the Indian Association of Secretaries and Administrative Professionals.

Article compiled by Ms. Rashna Ardesher