Can we have it all? A Humanist Issue – Not a Gender Issue!


‘So I was raised to believe that championing women’s rights meant doing everything we could to get women to the top. And I still hope that I live long enough to see men and women equally represented at all levels of the work force. But I’ve come to believe that we have to value family every bit as much as we value work, and that we should entertain the idea that doing right by those we love will make all of us better at everything we do.’

I would go as far to say that Anne Marie Slaughter has inspired me through her TEDtalk just as much as Sheryl Sandberg in her [EPIC] speech on ‘Why We Have So Few Women Leaders’. Not only does Slaughter address the issues facing work-life balance & gender inequality, but she rightly acknowledges the importance of the role of family and how work-policy & societal norms have rendered the home as second-rate to the work place. Here are a few random thoughts I had whilst listening:

Coming from an Indian-background [full of cultural controversies], I find the dynamics of home decision-making extremely interesting. Anne Marie claims that in most cultural norms, Men are considered the primary breadwinners and Women, the caregivers. Ironically, in the same cultures, and more-so in developing countries, patriarchal family dynamics allow Men to be at the helm of decision making in the home. [I haven’t referenced this, however i’m sure you wouldn’t disagree!] This means that, although women are the primary care-givers, Men are in charge of family expenditure and therefore decisions on health, education and the futures of their children. Something doesn’t quite add up!

I also love the fact that Anne Marie recognises the pressures on Men to be the breadwinners and the increasing ability of Women to choose their positions at home and at work. It’s like the reverse of Caitlin Moran’s checklist on inequality & sexism, number one of which is, ‘Are the men worrying about this?’. Instead, Women are increasingly being championed when they succeed in either realms of family or work, whilst Men are reduced to one option of what it means to be a Man.

Lastly, I believe the over-arching issue at play is the responsibility of businesses in the wider society and as the creators of work-culture. Are businesses accountable to their employees and therefore the wider society? Or are they only answerable to their shareholders? As a believer in corporate responsibility and social mobility, I think that businesses have a responsibility to ALL of these agents, equally. As employers of individuals that strive to balance their lives, businesses should champion the flexible strategies that allow both Men and Women to excel together in both work and home. At the same time, these qualities should be valued by shareholders. This is important for the business, for employees and for future generations.

As a young women who is extremely far from making these decisions, I am already thinking about the issues that may effect myself and my future family/career. It’s more scary that I am considering these issues than the fact that these issues exist in the first place! I believe this is a sure sign that the paradigm we currently live in needs to shift away from the militant work-culture and towards a healthier [and evidently more successful] flexible norm.

Over & Out.

There ain’t no rest for the wicked: Our attitudes towards sleep

While sharing this TedTalk, I must confess that I had watched it at 2am, on a work night, when I should have been catching some z’s.

My relationship with sleep has always been a bit of a love and hate situation. I love sleeping but hate that point of going to sleep. My bed loves to keep me warm and I hate to get out of it. My main issue with spending those 8 hours rejuvenating my brain, is that I have been made to believe that I am wasting time.

Think about the number of things the average person does on a daily basis. We work; we eat; we travel; we pick up the kids; we shop; we love; we cry; we rest.

Now think about the things that the average person also wants to do. Explore our passions; make our hobbies into a side business; Read that book your friend let you borrow 3 months ago; go to the gym for more than 45 minutes; love a bit more; cry a bit more; all at the same time.

Both of these sets of things are on the checklist of daily life in order of their priority and therefore, rarely completely ticked off. We don’t have time to pursue those extra things that we want to do, while maintaining the quality of the things we are obliged to do. In some cases, we are actually expected to do all of these activities. All my life i’ve been asked ‘so what else do you do’. There are simply not enough hours in the day.

So how do we tackle this? Many of us have come to the conclusion that ‘something has got to give’. It is highly interesting that the activity that ends up being sacrificed is sleep; not work, that takes up the largest proportion of our day, but the most important cognitive function.

The idealist inside me wishes that this wasn’t the case. It wishes that the ‘daily grind’ would step down a gear and allow us to live life at a less stressful pace, where we are allowed to give time to other things that are important to us such as our passions and sleep. It also hopes that we realise that we have spent so much time ‘economising’ our time, that the actual value of time has been lost. It is a shame and I am hoping that I will start to appreciate the science of sleep a bit more.

Over and Out.

No Journalism, Just Truth.

Hyeonseo Lee, a regular citizen of North Korea, shares her story of how she escaped the DPRK. Not only did she set up her life in South Korea, but she then went back and saved her family from starvation and possible death.

This little “TEDwhim” is not a response to the big news headlines, but was sparked by this single. mighty story of courage.

I am sharing this TEDtalk at a very tense and serious time of global politics. Hints of nuclear war from North Korea have shadowed the world and the US have responded firmly to these threats. As international citizens, it is hard to gather the truth about DPRK. We are bombarded with Journalism an dramatic reports about the militant regime, the destructive leadership and the decaying population. However, we must wonder how much of this is true and how much of this is over-exaggeration of Western Media. As a politics student, I have recently become highly cynical of reports such as BBC Panorama on DPRK from Monday. Surely this is all just Western propaganda, showing the worst elements of an enemy nation while concealing the positives?

Hyeonseo Lee has put this cynic in her place. The negatives are the Truth. The positives are but Delusions; delusions of indoctrinated Korean people. Listening to Hyeonseo’s story and raw emotion has really opened my eyes to the struggles of the DPRK.

It has made me rethink the simple privileges I have grown up with – A wage, a vote, a voice.

Over & Out.

Inspiring TEDtalks – Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong!

Currently sitting on a busy train and decided to start my first (real) blog entry…

I want to share a video with you, which became the turning point for me to start adoseofpersonalwhim. It basically sums up everything I believe about social enterprise, philanthropy and alternative career paths.


Dan Pallotta is probably one of the most engrossing speakers that I have found through TEDtalks. He stresses the importance of business strategy in the non-profit sector, and that it should (in many respects) use for-profit sector models to achieve results and the big bucks.

I will leave you to listen and won’t give too much away… However I would like to make a few comments on my favourite ideas and on the criticms that that Dan Pallotta recieved for the ideas he shared.

Firstly, many of the criticisms revolve around how the for-profit sector strategies would ruin social enterprise and turn them into a business, forgetting the cause.. However these people clearly havn’t really listened to what Dan is saying.
To quote, “When you prohibit failure, you kill innovation. If you kill innovation in fundraising, you can’t raise more revenue. If you can’t raise more revenue, you can’t grow. And if you can’t grow, you can’t possibly solve large social problems.”

It’s the passion for a cause, mixed with the business strategy, that leads to results – not just a profit maximisation mentality. What I think is really important to realise is that if you start making these claims now, social enterprise will never take off… We aren’t at that stage yet where we need to worry about it – first let the firms take off and reel in the money for their cause on a large scale. Then, start regulating and changing things to make social progress sustainable.

Pessimism is the thief of success.

Secondly, something quite relevant to me, is Dan’s views on students and their perceptions of their own careers… He pins down perfectly the dilemma of socially passionate students who would love to apply their knowledge to the non-profit sector but feel that doing so would leave them worse of than their degree qualified them to be. To quote Dan – ‘it becomes a sacrafice between the wellbeing of their family or the wellbeing of the world…’. This is definitely how a number of students across a disciplines feel about their place in the Global arena.

So to conclude, although I am not an expert on the non-profit sector, I do know a bit about the problems my generation face when approaching the world of social enterprise. I thoroughly recommend you watch his TEDtalk and realise the potential of non-profit and philanthropy.

Over and out!