A Portrait of Women Leaders of India
By Dr. Shashi Gogate and Mick Minard
A Portrait of Women Leaders of India
By Dr. Shashi Gogate and Mick Minard
these women celebrate selfhood through sport; use business as an act of compassion; recognize women farmers as entrusted land stewards; use education to build moral imagination; spread the values of social justice and human rights through song and slogans; promote girl's education as a pathway out of poverty and toward equality; accelerate rural development through radio; inspire collective action through film; restore dignity by providing affordable healthcare; and enrich people's lands and lives through cooperative, door-step banking. And the list goes on.
When one looks upon all of India's people with an eye of equal regard, one will find women leaders everywhere. Many are imagining India’s future and building it, inspiring others to do the same. These women know their purpose; they have found it, forged it, and are laying the tracks for a new narrative, which is being written across a complex social landscape of the most populous democracy in the world of over 1.2 billion people.
In a society where inequality, injustice, and disrespect toward women and girls often prevails, these intrepid individuals are demonstrating in simple terms and through bold actions that there can be no meaningful development in India without the full participation of all its people. These women refuse to stop imagining life differently, and they work mindfully and tirelessly for the growth and development of themselves, their communities, and their country. Through them, India is realizing herself and shaping her future, as each woman leader imbues this great nation with a vibrant and vital force that will not be restrained.
Still, it is only when we make women leaders visible that their contributions can be recognized, their efforts supported, and their indispensable role in peace-making and nation-building properly understood. It is for this reason that we seek to bring these women into focus here.
The Poetry of Purpose offers a portrait of fifteen such leaders: women across India who—often in the face of their own social, political, familial, and economic challenges—are scaling the heights of the human spirit and improving the lives of ordinary people in extraordinary ways.
What depth and height and vastness their accomplishments offer to the country and to humanity, as they celebrate selfhood through sport; use business as an act of compassion; recognize women farmers as entrusted land stewards; use education to build moral imagination; spread the values of social justice and human rights through song and slogans; promote girls’ education as a pathway out of poverty and toward equality; accelerate rural development through radio; inspire collective action through film; restore dignity by providing affordable healthcare; and enrich people's lands and lives through cooperative, door-step banking. And the list goes on.
Through photographic portraits of each woman, accompanied by personal reflections on her life and work, a picture emerges of what the path to leadership looks like, not just for women in India, but for people everywhere—from the earliest stages of self-discovery to an enduring desire to strive in the service of others.
To embark upon this path, each of these women has first had to overcome barriers within herself—battling hesitancy and doubt, and surmounting circumscribed perceptions of her own potential and that of the world around her. In many cases, the distance a woman travels from her starting point to a position of efficacy and leadership is commensurate with the intensity of her devotion to improving the life chances of her children, her community members, and her fellow citizens—especially those of the most vulnerable; women and girls.
This is the kind of woman found in the pages of this book: one who is creating the conditions for which all people have the opportunity to realize their higher selves, even as she continues to realize her own. Hers is a mindful pursuit aimed at an enduring outcome; not to perfect society, but to improve it, with an emphasis on finding meaning and value everywhere—even in suffering—and to dedicate her life to something greater than herself.
The essential value of each of these leaders’ contributions to Indian society is not, we believe, confined solely to her primary area of influence, where the results are tangible. Rather, it lies also in the degree to which her wonder, vision, and courage call forth in her family, community, and larger social networks a broadening of consciousness and comprehension—demonstrating a simple and enduring truth: that a sense of purpose brings beauty and fulfillment not only to the individual soul, but also to the lives of all it touches.
Mick Minard // Wawonaissa Farm, USA // January 2015
DR. SHASHI GOGATE was born and raised in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. She attended medical school with the support and encouragement of her parents, earning an MBBS from M. Gandhi Medical College in her hometown. After marrying and having her first child, she moved with her husband to the United States, where she continued her medical education and earned a Masters in Pathology at the Ohio State University Hospitals.
While raising three children with her husband, she became Board Certified in Anatomic Pathology and Clinical Laboratories, and served for three years as an Assistant Professor in Pathology at the Ohio State University Hospitals. In 1975, she joined Fairfield Medical Center in Lancaster, Ohio, where she would practice in the field of pathology for the next thirty-five years as the center’s Director of Clinical Labs and Chief of Pathology. In 1996, she was elected President of the Medical Staff, and in 2009, she became Chair of the hospital’s Board of Directors.
In early 1970, after the birth of her third child, Dr. Gogate and her family began a new chapter of personal growth and spirituality through the practice of meditation. Over the years, her daily meditation practice gradually deepened her appreciation for and connection to her native homeland, and she increasingly felt spurred to reflect on the importance of self-discovery, self-sufficiency, and self-restoration for the realization of one’s potential—a development that ultimately inspired her interest in undertaking this book project.
She lives with her husband in Columbus, Ohio.
MICK MINARD is a writer, photographer, and an experienced strategy consultant specializing in program design, marketing communications, and impact assessment. Over the past twenty years, her professional and artistic work has largely been focused on promoting promising ideas for restoring connection between human society and the natural world.
Her photographs have been exhibited in New York City and sold commercially, and she uses visual and written narrative to inspire new forms of leadership, organizational transformation, and community engagement.
Since 1998, Mick has worked in the United States, Europe, East Africa, and South Asia, with both non-profit and for-profit social ventures, and she has facilitated the growth of early-stage capacity-building and income-generating initiatives serving the underprivileged and the rural poor.
In 2010, she founded REEF Reports (Realizing the Ecosystem Effects of Finance™), an endeavor aimed at driving new resources and new thinking to organizations that are positively transforming social behavior and human society. Her focus is on devising innovative, effective ways to deliver and evaluate positive social and environmental impact to rural businesses, communities, and families in developing countries—especially those empowering women farmers and their daughters through education, self-employment, and collective action.
Mick’s public speaking engagements in the U.S. and internationally have expanded awareness of the need for a sharper focus on the world’s women farmers. In 2012 and 2013, she was invited to present her research on the subject at the 56th and 57th Commissions on the Status of Women. Most recently, she has been appointed Representative to the United Nations on behalf of the International Federation of University Women (IFUW) to advocate for the empowerment of women and girls through life-long education.
Mick lives on her family farm in Northern New Jersey. This is her first book.
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Tehelka Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 16 | April 18, 2015 // Photoengraving the Real Leaders
Business Standard // Press Trust of India | New Delhi March 26, 2015 // Men have to play important role to empower women: Photographer
The Hindu: Thursday, March 26, 2015 // Portraying women leaders who transform lives
The Hindu: March 29, 2015 // Facing Facts
Mail Today: New Delhi // Chandigarh, March 27, 2015 // Women leaders who left an impact on many lives
The Sunday Standard: New Delhi, Sunday 22 - 28 March 2015 // Women at Work
Newsroom Post: New Delhi, March 17, 2015 // Lives of pioneer ‘invisible’ women related through an exhibition