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So You Want to be a Female Solopreneur: 4 Things You Need to Do First

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Women Entrepreneur

Becoming a solopreneur is one way that many women create careers that earn them income outside of a traditional employment situation. Solo entrepreneurship is popular and growing. According to The Balance, 41 million people in the United States count themselves as solopreneurs and many of them are making serious money — more than $1.2 trillion for the American economy in just the last year to be exact. This kind of success can happen for you too.

While getting to be self-employed often starts with a dream and a concept, your solopreneur career can also revolve around a unique skill set, but you also need to do a few other things.

Create a Bridge

First, you need to create a bridge. Most women will not be able to quit their jobs and then make enough in self-employment to pay the rent next month. Bridges solve the issue. For some women, they will have enough severance pay or savings to make ends meet until they start to earn enough income to pay the bills. Others will need to take a bridge job — one that involves working fewer hours than you are currently so you have time leftover each day to work on your business.

Build your Brand

Next, you need to build your brand. Writing blog posts, maintaining a social media presence and networking are critical. After all, when you are a solo entrepreneur, you are your business. In general, plan on creating a website and generating some content that is optimized for search engines. You will also need to create a profile on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. On these platforms, you have one job — to demonstrate your knowledge about your industry. This content needs to be sharable, relatable, and authentic, and a little visual magic doesn’t hurt.

Buy Better Technology

You will also need to take a look at your technology. You will need a domain name and hosting for your website to start with, but that is just scratching the surface. You are going to need a good computer as well as a variety of different softwares and apps to help you organize your work. Additionally, you are going to need a phone. Solo entrepreneurs are often on the go. You need a mobile phone that can keep up. Look at powerful smartphones like the Apple iPhone 6s. The screen is large enough that you can actually do some work directly from the device, the camera is powerful enough to take photos you can use professionally and Touch ID keeps your phones secure while making it easy to open apps.

Invest in Services

Finally, invest in services. Your iPhone 6s needs to be on a network with a high-quality carrier; dropped calls simply are not professional. You also need to have enough data to actually take care of your business needs, so look for a carrier that doesn’t charge extra fees as your business takes off and your usage increases. Cloud computing services are also important. The right software will capture and categorize your expenses, manage your projects, organize your files and make running your business that much easier.

If you are thinking about becoming a solopreneur, now is the time. Just make sure that you take the right steps to make it happen. Anyone can say that she is in business for herself, but you have to act like you are running a business to be successful. Take the time to plan, prepare and invest in your vision. Your future as a solo entrepreneur depends on it.

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Student @ Advanced Digital Sciences Center, Singapore. Travelled to 30+ countries, passion for basketball.

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India

RSS on Women’s Right: Then and Now – Reforming Indian Conservatives

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flickr/vineetradhakrishnan

Not long ago, when RSS mooted the idea of replacing its knickers with trousers, I put forth a conjecture — “If you start dressing like an adult, you start thinking like one.”

Today as I watched an RSS ideologue on prime-time news* waxing eloquent on women’s rights during a discussion on triple talaq, my belief in the validity of the conjecture grew that much more.

Now why do I say that RSS has started acting like an adult (and that it earlier wasn’t)? Time for some history.

Sometime around early 1950s the liberal architects of modern India figured that it is a moral imperative that woman be not treated as second class citizens of India. The constitution of India, of course gave them the equal rights but there were still religious personal laws hiding behind which the various conservatives still propagated patriarchy. To correct this, they brought in the Hindu code bill**. It had the “provisions to allow women to choose their marriage partners, to divorce brutal husbands, and to inherit ancestral property.” (Yes, these basic rights, as they may seem today, were not guaranteed to Hindu women (or any Indian women) from time immemorial.) [Read More: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu_code_bills]

Now RSS, one of the foremost Hindu conservative group, was at the forefront in opposing this bill tooth and nails. Their arguments and opinions at the time, as quoted from Organiser (the official mouthpiece of RSS) were eerily similar to those of All India Muslim Personal Law Board in today’s TV debate.

So, let’s revisit them (and I directly quote Organiser via Ram Guha):

1. “[The Hindu code bill] has nothing Bharatiya about it. The questions like those of marriage and divorce cannot be settled on the American or British model in this country. Marriage, according to Hindu culture and law is a sanskar which cannot be changed even after death and not a ‘contract’ which can be broken any time.” Pretty much the line of reasoning that those opposing triple talaq reforms take today.

2. “[The Hindu Code Bill is] a direct invasion on the faith of the Hindus [and…] its provisions empowering women to divorce is revolting to the Hindu ideology” ~ Organiser, November 2, 1949

3. “We oppose the Hindu Code Bill. We oppose it because it is a derogatory measure based on alien and immoral principles. It is not a Hindu Code Bill. It is anything but Hindu. We condemn it because it is a cruel and ignorant libel on Hindu laws, Hindu culture and Hindu dharma” ~ Organiser, December 7, 1949

4. “Rishi Ambedkar and Maharishi Nehru would atomise society and infect every family with scandal, suspicion and vice” ~ Organiser, December 7, 1949

Yes, that’s right — they thought that a woman getting an equal right in inheritance or right to choose her husband or right to divorce would “infect every family with scandal, suspicion and vice”. I think, now 60 years after the adoption of those bills, we can agree that lot of those assertions were mere exaggerations by the conservative patriarchs to protect patriarchy.

So just keep this history in mind as you see and hear various Maulanas hide behind religious customs to protect patriarchy. And remember — adjusting for the standard of women’s right in India, the only reason why Hindu women are a bit ahead of their Muslim counterparts is because the that early architects of modern India happened to be some liberal with a spine.

So, as I watch the khaki pants argue for women’s right, I cannot but feel glad for their change of stance.

But as Guha says — “Organisations, like individuals, have a right to change their minds. But any such change of view must be accompanied by a frank and open reckoning with why and how it happened.”

So, till the time I am clear how this new-found concern for Indian women came about, my support to this government and its ideological mentors will obviously of case specific.

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Women Lead the Way in STEM Fields in the UAE

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Businesswoman with Handheld Device --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Businesswoman with Handheld Device — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

It is an interesting time to be a woman in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Although many would argue that, by global standards, gender equality in the UAE still has some way to go, in one field of expertise significant inroads are being made. This sector, perhaps surprisingly, is science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). In fact, a recent study by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) suggests that in education, including in STEM subjects, women are now outperforming men in the UAE. What are some of the causes of this phenomenon, and what will this mean for long-term employment and the economy?

The 2014 EIU report found that out of 395 female students studying in the UAE, 70% were enrolled in STEM-related courses. The report’s editor, Aviva Freudmann, attributes a strong Government commitment, as a major factor in the increase in women taking up STEM careers. It appears legislation certainly has a clear role to play. In a paper submitted to the United Nations commission on the status of women in 2014, Ms. Lamya N. Fawwaz of the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology attributed the success, in part, to the investment made by governments at the very start of the educational chain. She states that all school pupils encounter STEM subjects at school as standard. In addition, the UAE government has also established a number of female-only colleges, to ensure interests are developed in further education. Universities are also seeing an increasing number of women take up courses in STEM related disciplines, for example accountancy qualifications, engineering courses, and the highly regarded Master of Science in Mathematics (MSMTH).

The result is a positive one, it seems, for everyone concerned. Not only could it do much to improve the confidence of women, and their position within Emirati society, but academics are arguing that the shift could have a major impact on the economy. Consultancy firm Booz Allen have argued that, if a similar set of circumstances in Greece, Ireland and Spain is anything to go by, the GDP could rise by up to 12%. This is based on a growth in STEM careers of 15-20% over thirty years.

Although science and engineering occupations have typically been viewed as male orientated occupations, this shift does seem to suggest an attitudinal change. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed. The EIU report highlights certain obstacles such as gender discrimination within the workplace, work-life balance, and cultural barriers, which must be overcome for women to truly succeed in all areas of employment. The report poses a number of ways in which the UAE can help sustain and develop the growth, including ensuring there are more high profile female role models and mentors.

STEM careers remain at the forefront of what is a growing and lucrative industry within the UAE. With the gender scales tipping, it will be interesting to see what happens over the coming decades. As far as gender equality is concerned, the UAE is one to watch. 

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India’s daughter documentary snow balls into controversy, banned in India.

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It is a shame that at a time when India is projecting itself as a world super power and a country when women are seen heading top corporate is unable to tackle the issue of women safety and issues related with it.

The latest being the “India’s Daughter”  a documentary film that has kicked up a storm based on the 2012 Delhi gang rape and murder of the 23 old physiotherapy women, the woman was named by media as “Nirbhaya” or fearless, and became a symbol for India’s fight to check crimes against women.  The documentary features the opinion of one of the convicts of the gang rape in Delhi were interviewed in prison in Delhi where he awaits his death sentence.

India’s daughter is part of the BBC’s ongoing  story Ville series directed by Film maker Leslee Udwin, the Documentary film was to be broadcasted on March 8 commemorating International Women’s Day in India on the popular New Delhi Television (NDTV) that was banned Nirbhaya documentary saying that it is not in the interest of the country and feared a public outcry.

Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) obtained a court order on 4 March 2015, banning the broadcast justifying that it aims at protecting and ensuring that the sensibilities of women in the country is paramount.

The Filmmaker Leslee Udwin, who directed India’s Daughter, has rejected claims by the Indian Government that the documentary contained offensive remarks towards women, and could cause a public outcry as told by her in BBC interview.

Brushing aside Indian protests, the BBC has telecasted the documentary; India has no jurisdiction over BBC 4 which has already aired the documentary.

Mass Media, especially Cinema has historically played a huge and a pivotal role in shifting mindsets of the masses and classes in India and shaping our society. Women have been always projected as a weak gender and even in films if a woman is raped the only option left for her to kill herself, largely believed that she brings shame to the family and it is a social stigma to report the issue seeking justice.

Whenever films have touched on sensitive issues show casing hard realities of Indian society be it oppression of women, child marriage, dowry deaths, women trafficking so on…. have been center of controversy and on many occasions banned.

Indian cinema and films were recently showcased worldwide celebrating 100 years of cinema with pomp and gaiety not only in India but around the world. The popular love stories of India have carved a niche of itself worldwide and successfully able to entertain and enthrall audience worldwide not only in India but in US, UK, Russia, Canada, Poland, Middle East and African countries, but hard hitting movies run into controversy.

The world was shocked and horrified by the Delhi gang rape in 2012 when the victim was gang raped and brutally thrown out of a moving bus, the incident open the Pandora box and the loop holes in the system and the way we pursue women safety and security.

The outraged that followed across the nation after the incident forced the Delhi Police and judicial system to enforce stringent laws and punish the culprits.

The incident caught the attention worldwide was able to put tremendous pressure on the authorities on safety and security issues and demanded measure the curb the menace.

Various mediums and platforms openly began discussing the issue of women’s safety in India worldwide.

Dr, Vikrant Kishore a documentary film maker and Faculty of Communication and Media Production, University of New Castle, Australia, said that documentary that brings to fore the heart wrenching story of Rape crimes against women in India and how we how we as a society treat women.

He personally feels that the documentary is interesting way it has interwoven various point of views, especially of victims parents, the perpetrator of the crime, their family members, and the defence lawyers. He feel it is a timely documentary to initiate a discussion and debate about the heinous rape crimes, which we hear on a daily basis in India, since the release and online posting of the documentary India’s daughter. There has been huge online response through various social media and networking sites, most of them praising the film and few trying to rip it apart calling it a shoddy piece of work and some even labelling it sensationalistic and full of lies.

Dr. Kishore says he does not find it sensationalistic, as it is in the nature of the subject of the documentary that was ought to make people take notice, also probably the Indian media picked up the story of the documentary and brought the discussion on prime time television, which attracted major attention for the documentary. In this instance the Indian government thought it would tarnish the reputation of India. But then why was the Indian government silent on another BBC documentary on the same rape case that was produced in 2013, which was rather harshly titled – India: A Dangerous Place To Be A Woman?

But if the Indian governments objection to the documentary and the filmmaker is about the non compliance of the rules and regulations of the country to conduct the shoot… then the government has full right to take any action against the documentary.

Professor Karuna Kaushik, feels that it is a shame India being the largest democracy is trying to curtail freedom and power of social media. After the Film was uploaded on Youtube and went viral it was banned and youngsters began a discussion on social media. For a healthy democracy a open media and a platform to air ones views is vital, she adds.

Shiva Ranjini, a school teacher working in Bangalore also a mother of young daughter fears the safety of her child. Recalling the incident where a young six year old girl was raped in school, she feels that the government to wake up to the horrendous crime and tackle the issue seriously rather banning films.

Unfortunately, fearing a public uproar and outlawed by the Indian authorities on the grounds of “objectionable content” and rapists are being glorified in the documentary the issues snow balled into controversy, the Indian government directed Youtube India to block the Video in India.

Activists of leading Women’s organisation All India Mahila Samskruthika Sanghatane (AIMSS) leader Poornima staged protest against Nirbhaya case convict Mukesh Singh in Mysore on International Women’s day, they also opposed the permission to interview Singh as part of a documentary on Nirbhaya.

According to her interviewing and documenting the convict’s version is encouraging the convict to shift the blame on the victim? “This indicates the psyche of the male dominated society, which should be protested,” she said.  The documentary was made with prior permission and full support of victim’s parents, who wanted to expose the atrocious crime and the loop holes in the system. Even after three years incidents like rapes have not come down. According to the National Crime Records Bureau statistics 93 women are raped in India every day and child sexual abuse occurs at horrifying levels and is massively under reported.

The government is now questioning the permission documents that the filmmaker obtained to get the jailhouse interview and reviewing procedures for access those in jail, which could set a dangerous precedent.

Bar Council of India did not waste any time and reacted quickly and issued a show-cause notice to defence lawyers of four convicts in the Delhi Gang Rape 2012 for their offensive remarks in the film.

Babita Menon, a young medical student by feels ashamed that she is living in a country that shy’s away from the reality that the horrendous crime is part of the society and takes place every day.

She strongly advocates that the documentary should be viewed by every citizen of the country to understand and get a clear perspective on the mind set of men who think raping women is their birth right. In a civilized society creating an awareness and further discussion is necessary to challenge   many notions and change the culture, the documentary will not result in increase in the number of rapes. It can facilitate more and more women to come forward and report cases of rapes as more and more women break the cycle of shame.

The convict openly speaks his mind and expresses his views that is deep rooted in our society and reflects Indians culture. Babita strongly we need to change the attitudes of police, who perpetuate the “shame on the woman” myth by discouraging women to report rapes. We need to change laws to reflect the equal status of women in India and provide the resources they need to protect themselves.

Banning books, films or controversial speech has long been a government tactic to suppress free speech and limit scrutiny. This is not the first time a film is banned in India and public outcry is seen, many protests were organized against the film Slumdog Millionaire that won Oscar awards and internationally appreciated. The public protest and outcry was that India was showcased badly and on the grounds that it intentionally exploited the poor for the purposes of profit, also arguing that the title Slumdog Millionaire is offensive, demeaning, and insulting to their dignity.

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