Interviewer: I'm going to open this up to a little group discussion. Now Radhika, how vastly are things changing for women in India right now?
Respondent 2: Well I think things are changing a lot for women in India, you know, the education rate is really going up, a lot of women are pursuing higher education, families are also opening up, women are being able to take decisions for themselves, there’s greater respect for themselves from within the community and the family. But I do feel that it's not at all levels. So if you look at rural India, there are still pockets where things are still very traditional, if you look at these ladies who are associated with us, a lot of them told me they have never even going outside to the local market by themselves. They always had an escort, either their husbands or their sons, somebody with them. So initially, for me when we had to tell them that you're going to be taking tourists, a lot of them are going to be from outside India, there'll be speaking a different language, they realised it wasn't the fact that they didn't think they would be able to do it, they were really scared because they've never had the exposure, and I felt they didn't have the confidence to do it themselves. But it changed very quickly, you know, as we started with the tools, within three to six months with a lot of hand holding, we started with the first 10 and the ripple effect was very strong. It was these ladies who instilled confidence in the other ladies. In fact, finally, when we started it, I thought it would be the younger ladies, the younger women, who would be in the age group of about 18 to 25, who would find this exciting, but they were the ones who were more hesitant. Also, one of my first ladies was a grandmother. She did it just because she felt her entire life she hadn't done anything for herself. And she said, "Well now I'm old enough," she also got married when she was 13 years old, she said, "Well, I've done a lot for everybody, now I'm going to take a turn, I’ll take a chance and do something for myself." She is the one who then inspired everybody else, and told the younger ones, "Well if I can do it you can pick it up faster." So I think there's a lot of change and quickly the family is also started respecting them, respecting their choices, and now I see the change within these ladies and I think it's similar to what's happening in our country where the grandparents’ generation, a lot of them haven't had a formal education, they didn't go to school, they were home schooled and now you know, a lot of the girls are being encouraged to pursue higher education to travel, to make choices. So it's changing not. It just needs a lot of support and encouragement.
Interviewer: OK. What do you think currently right now is the biggest obstacle standing in woman's way?
Respondent 2: I think it might just not be in our country, I think it's everywhere, you know that is a glass ceiling where I feel a lot of women who are qualified and very capable, they don't get the right opportunities to take their skills further on. The glass ceiling still sort of stands.
Interviewer: Nadine, how do you think the world is changing for women for the better, based on all your travel experiences that you've seen?
Respondent 1: Like we said, or Radhika said, it's not just India. A lot of women face the same challenges all around the world. But a lot of it is about awareness. So it's like the more we talk about it the more we see other women taking on these challenges, the more it will inspire other women to do the same and the more seeing other women do these things inspired other women. I know I get inspired by ... these three ladies are all amazing, and I'm so inspired by all the work that they're doing in India. And I see that in other places around the world, just seeing other women take on roles, take on projects, take on jobs, do things that are just not typically a female job I'm not typically run or spearheaded by women or at least in the sort of numbers that you would expect. So it's things like that that kind of inspire a global consciousness and it also helps change the male perspective as well. So it's not only women seeing other women travelling on their own, and being like, "Whoa you can do that," and see women take on jobs on their own and run companies on their own, being like, "Whoa you can do that." It's men as well, it's giving men a chance to see that women can do that and they can see bus succeeding in it, and then they're able change their perspective as well, because I think that's a big part of it as well. It's not just women supporting other women, its men supporting other women. And then seeing the change and seeing and being able to support them.
Interviewer: Literally biggest kudos to all of you ladies out there for fighting these gender stereotypes, helping these women change their mindset, knowing that they literally can do whatever it is they want and if they have the confidence they can do it. That is very ... it's a very tough job and it's a very large undertaking that you guys are doing, so you guys are changing the world.
Respondent 4: I just wanted to add something.
Interviewer: Yes, go for it.
Respondent 4: All these women have the courage, because I think all around the table we have the education and the money, but these women they are so courageous because they are the ones who are struggling when they start something new. Because going out from your comfort zone, we know already that it's difficult when we have the money and the education but imagine for them, it's like a huge step and I'm super proud, everyday I'm really proud about what they can accomplish every day. And I'm sure also they are, but me, I'm just impressed and everyday I'm more impressed by them.
Interviewer: Again, you ladies are doing an amazing job, thank you so, so much. Do not stop what you guys are doing. I'm adding this all to my India trip notes to come visit all of you guys. I want to see the amazing work you guys are doing for myself. Thank you so much to all my guests. Nadine Sykora, Radhika Kumari, Divya Kandhal and Saloua Sal. That's it from out of office, powered by Contiki. Don't forget to subscribe. You can listen back to any of our previous episodes anytime. Just search Out of Office wherever you get your podcasts. See you soon.