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Coca- Cola Presents Youth Dialogue: Transforming Leadership Style; A Voice in Women’s Leadership

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The third episode of Coca-Cola presents Youth Dialogue by Glocal Khabar ended with a successful presence of students amidst an event held at the premises of King’s College. The dialogue had a presence of three amazing personalities as the invitees of the Youth Dialogue and they were Ms. Irina Karki Gurung, Public Affairs & Communication Manager at Bottler’s Nepal; Ms. HimaBista, Executive Director at Women Lead Nepal and Ms. FaijaParween, Founder at Open Space Network. The discussion was moderated by Ms. SaruPyakurel, Communication Officer at Glocal Pvt. Ltd.

Leadership is a term so vague and has various dimension. Upon asking the panellist to define what Leadership means to them, Ms. Parween said Leadership is about taking leadership and also supporting somebody else in their leadership. Ms.Bista said leadership is all about making sure that wherever you are, the kind of approach that you take should actually ensure that whoever is with you, either your colleagues, team members or anyone who falls in hierarchy making sure they look up to you and you should also ensure inclusive environment breaking that hierarchy. Leadership doesn’t rely on follower and following which is a traditional approach, but you should have an inclusive approach.

Ms.Gurung said Leadership can be good and bad. There has been lots of studies, research that has been carried out to find the best leadership style and prominent definition of it. What she believed is an individual acquire the leadership style from your individual life story, from early childhood to many things that eventually make them a leader. Leadership quality is unique and therefore it is important for a leader to be authentic and inclusive.

The moderated asked the panellist to name and briefly explain one of the most satisfying leadership roles that they have had. Ms. Parween said it’s difficult for her to remember that one particular role, however, Leadership is an ongoing process that lies is a small step. Today whenever she makes her family proud with the work she does, that’s the kind of leadership that she is taking, Likewise, being the person to look after for my sisters is one role that makes me feel satisfied. As she is from the Muslim community, the culture to go to work is different as very less percentage of women to go to work outside. When she started working, she involved her sisters in the work too, then she realized that it’s inspiring so many people.

Ms.Bista shared her experience that stands out as her leadership roles. She believes a leader should be the one who stands out, but their words in public fearlessly and also bring a positive change in society. There can be situations that can test a person’s leadership quality. However, a person needs to be confident and execute themselves so that they are noticed and their voices are heard.

Ms.Gurung also said it’s difficult for her to pinpoint a leadership role, but she also shared a few of her incidents. She shared how she used to be the leader during the group dance competition when she was in class 5, and her responsible behaviour made the performance good as she was able to lead the group well. That dance performance is a memorable yet beautiful experience she had where she took a leadership role. She talked about her professional life, at Bottler’s Nepal where she feels that she is able to lead the team, and as a team, they are able to add value for the business they do. She also added one factor that makes their professional journey more special is the fact that their work is so meaningful and everything falls into its place.

Ms. Parween then talked about the need and importance of Women in Leadership in the context of our country. She stated the need and importance of leadership doesn’t come with gender. Women has been in leadership from ages, but they have never been highlighted. A women takes the responsibility of the houses, every work she does is extremely meaningful. Even a housewife work, execute leadership but they are not paid. We see leaders as someone who is prominent, earning money and are visible in the market. Therefore, we feel like women leadership is low. But we lack to see the women’s presence as they are in those areas which are unnoticed. I believe women leadership is very important. The Leadership arenas and works were divided into the earlier generations, Males were exposed to the outer works, so male leadership were seen excessive. But now with the growing generation, when it comes to financial independency, both Women and Men are crossing their ways and also walking parallel nowadays. There is no much differences. Women Leadership is important to gain that respect in society.

If you work in home and you are not earning, that is never counted. Therefore, she added that women must be given opportunities to come out, share their thoughts, execute their learnings and at the same time become financially stable. Nowadays, there are the changes seen in the society where the need for women’s leadership can be reflected and highlighted.

Ms.Bistaalso explained that women in leadership is important. The society that we live in a patriarchal society. The patriarchy is ingrained so much that it is difficult to women to come up and show themselves. Of course, the changes are visible regarding women’s education, the facilities they get. But she insisted that there are two different situations to overlook. If we observe the situation from Kathmandu, it’s different and if you look to other parts of Nepal, it’s different. It’s difficult for women to take the lead even in this 21st century due to patriarchal mindset. Therefore, she highlighted that the patriarchal taboos needs to be discouraged and the glass ceiling needs to be broken that prevents women to stay back. As a whole, away need to be paved for the women because equality is still missing

Ms.Gurung highlighted the perspective of different women. She said if women are capable, she can go for it to take the lead. If a women herself is not self-confident and aware, then nothing is going to change, and nothing is going to support her to be a good leader. So, Leadership starts after she is self-aware and confident enough to put her words.Ms.Gurung said that in her workplace, half of the ones who are taking lead are women in their team, who are equally inspiring and humble, good enough to guide the whole team as they are the same working for a common purpose. That’s what good leadership quality is. She said she have learnt these leadership qualities from them, along with the learnings from the experience. Women are the ones who bring in creativity, so it has to be a diverse pool of talents in any field. There are layers of contributions that women can make to herself, other women, the society and the country itself.

Although leadership is important, there are many gaps seen in terms of leadership. Ms.Parween said one of the major gaps that she has realized is that the Male likes to listen to their male counterparts, rather than asking ideas from Female. She realized that the male ego comes in between the talks and gathering ideas too. A male needs to have that patience to listen to the women too. This should be an equal understanding in terms of idea sharing too. Women are a responsible person when comes to family, and when they encounter many difficulties on time management or any kind of obligations, leads to comparison and hampers in that growth level. Likewise, they cannot give their 100% in their workplace too. So, she identified some gaps.

Ms.Irina added there are enough qualified women in our country but there are two things that are;  stereotype towards women in leadership that still exist and another is unconsciousness biasness, that still exist which is a reality.

Upon highlighting the gaps seen in Women’s Leadership, Ms.Bista shared some steps to make the women stand out, fulfilling these gaps that encounter. She said women has some creativity, then she should be provided with a righteous platform to execute her talents.Ms.Bista shared that although her mother was a housewife, she had an entrepreneurial thinking which led her to start her own business of making Pickles, after proper training. She started a home business, created factory and started earning money out of selling pickles. She is now the biggest pickle making entrepreneur in the country right now. So, she was able to visualize the equality in her home, but the outer world was different. However, she realized that women empowerment starts from home where male can be the greatest supporter in women empowerment. We can enhance the talents of the women as per their interests, also through mentorship and counselling. A dialogue needs to be done keeping both the parties Male and Female together. A dialogue is the first step in ensuring that we fight for rights. Ms. Irina also agreed that women need to be empowered from home. Women must be given that platform and opportunity till there is that equality. Till then women must need to get that support.

Mr.Parween also gave some of the steps that can be considered to fill the gaps seen in women leadership in Nepal. One is Financial Independence. Women are not given respect as they have no financial independence. Therefore, women need to be financially independent too. Financial independency also builds self-confidence and women can do the things they want to do freely.