Equality is a state of mind

PR professionals discuss what equality means to them in the wake of the pandemic.
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s emotional and mental well-being irrespective of gender. However, we decided to pick up an issue that much has been spoken about lately. Women’s equality is an issue that’s not new but recently in light of the pandemic, there’s been an increased focus on gender roles, equality at home and the impact of the lockdown and WFH on working women and their mental health. Therefore, on the occasion of Women’s Equality Day, PR & advocacy firm SPAG organised a webinar on WFH & equality: gender roles, women solidarity and mental health. The event saw the “Women of SPAG” come together to have a conversation around what equality stands for in the wake of the pandemic.

At SPAG, we pride ourselves on consistently creating an environment of productivity and equality sans any form of gender bias. We held several internal discussions and one thing that emerged through them was that each woman has a different story to tell. So, we thought, why not put all these varied perspectives out there,” said SPAG’s Iknoor Kaur while setting the context of the discussion.

The panel consisted of PR professionals from SPAG - Ritika Jauhari, Vertika Kanauji, Sarita Binjola from Delhi NCR, Ritika Dutt from Mumbai, Vagmita Sharma and Elisabelle Aruldoss from Singapore and Niya Alexander from Bangalore.

The discussion began with an understanding of the concept of equality and the right to equal opportunity. “The global population of men and women is equal which implies that the brain power contributed by men and women is equal too. We however fail to optimally utilize 50% of the brain power that exists because of existing mindsets,” said Vagmita.

Throughout the discussion panelists shared their personal experiences with various issues like soceital conditioning, gender roles and mental health. Ritika Jauhari highlighted that normalising sharing of household responsibilities was the need of the hour. “If my husband is sharing responsibilities of the house with me to ensure the burden doesn’t fall on just one person, why is it that I am told that I’m lucky? No, I am not lucky because this is how it should be. The day we don’t discuss this as something that is out of the ordinary, we would’ve achieved true equality,” said Jauhari.

The panel also shed light on how organisations play a big role in practically creating equal opportunities. HR Sr Manager Sarita Binjola said, “We have to treat talent in a company as talent sans any kind of gendering and make sure we leave preconceived notions behind us.”

The discussion on mental health was coupled with many examples from the panelists where they shared some personal experiences with anxiety and stress. Emphasis was laid upon how women under the pressure of having to be strong and multitask don’t often seek help for mental health issues. They also gave tips to the viewers for the same. Niya said, “I make it a point to wake up every morning and write down three pages of thoughts and affirmations. This helps me clear my head and go about my day in an organised manner. It is important to address mental health issues and seek help without fear of judgement and organisations should support that.” The key takeaway of the session was that equality is a state of mind and it is important for women to speak their mind and not feel intimidated or afraid of judgment.

The session ended with a Q&A session where many interesting issues were touched upon.