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“I Want To Be Like You”: That Woman Who Inspires

Every young woman needs that someone who shows her what she can be. Each of us has it in us to be that someone who shows another what they can be.

Every young woman needs that someone who shows her what she can be. Each of us has it in us to be that someone who shows another what they can be.

I was in grade 5, when Lekha joined as a Management Trainee in the Company where my father worked. Till that point, I had been an overachiever academically, but I had only the vaguest idea of what I could be.

Lekha changed that.

Lekha dressed differently from the other women. She laughed with more confidence. When men spoke about her, they spoke with a deference not normally accorded to other women. When women spoke about her, it was with a tinge of envy. Above all, she lived alone in her own tastefully done up studio apartment with white net curtains.

I had no idea what Lekha did. But I wanted to be like her.

I wanted to be independent.

I wanted to take my own decisions.

I wanted to be someone in my own right.

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“The idea of possibility, the idea that I get to live my dreams out in public, hopefully, will show to other folks that it’s possible.” – Transgender activist Laverne Cox

Lekha is an engineer. I didn’t follow her career path. But she showed me what I could be.

She was the inspiration a pre-teen me needed.

Many years later…

I was staying in a guest house while advising a PSU on its potential divestment. In a place reserved for middle and top management, I was the object of curiosity both because of  my relative youth and because of my gender.

One night, at dinner, a family that was also staying at the guest house befriended me. I was bombarded with the usual questions – why was I there, who was I with, where did I work, was I married. After fielding the questions, more out of curiosity than anything else, I asked their teenage daughter what she wanted to be.

“I want to be like you”, she said.

Life had come a full cycle.

She had no idea who I was, what I had studied or what work I did. All she could see was an older woman who was someone in her own right, undefined by her relationship to a man.

That independence appealed to her. And she wanted to be the same.

“You cannot be what you cannot see.”

Female role models are important. When young girls see women doing well on their terms, it empowers them to work harder against gender biases, institutional barriers and negative stereotypes and achieve more.
Be that role model if you can.

Top image is a still from the movie Piku

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About the Author

Natasha Ramarathnam

Natasha works in the development sector, where most of her experience has been in Education and Livelihoods. She is passionate about working towards gender equity, sustainability and positive climate action. And avid reader and occasional read more...

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