How Hyderabadi women are leading the way to positive change – A Women's Month Feature

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Hyderabadi women smash stereotypes

March is Women’s Month.

It’s hard to imagine a world without women, and to have one month wholly dedicated to womanhood is just. While there are lots of things to celebrate from how far women have come today from times immemorial, the struggle is not over. We have so many issues that we need to bring out of the closets, talk vocally about them, and fight for what’s fair.

So, when Namrata Sadhvani, one of my good and first friends from the writing world, briefed me about the #HydSmashesStereotypes, I was sold. The campaign was meant to be a bonding experience over a photo session, and brunch.

And so one breezy spring morning, we met at the Ants Cafe, Gachibowli for our fun and empowering photoshoot, where we had to bring out our inner supermodels and convey to the lens how we were breaking stereotypes.

So, how did we fare? I bet you’re curious!

Let’s find out more about the campaign while I run you through some amazing pictures from the campaign.

First, let’s talk about brains behind the ingenious #HydSmashesStereotypes concept – Namrata and Priyanka.

About Namrata Sadhvani

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Namrata Sadhvani – Award-winning Blogger & Social Media Influencer

Namrata Sadhvani is an award-winning blogger, social media influencer, editor, workshop facilitator, architect, and educationist based in Hyderabad. She is mum to twin 7-year-old boys – a Jill of all trades is what she calls herself. 

Currently, she works as the Hyderabad editor for Momspresso – India’s largest parenting platform. She is also a volunteer at Sayfty – a women’s rights organization for whom she conducts safe and unsafe touch workshops for kids of ages 3-12 years. She is also the co-admin of ‘Womenfolk of Hyd‘ – an FB community for Hyderabad women with 7000+ members.

She has won a lot of accolades in the online and offline world for her articles on causes she is passionate about, including opening up the conversation around taboo subjects like normalizing difficult conversations around motherhood, raising a generation without gender bias, menstruation, etc. Mum to 7-year-old twins, she is making an honest attempt to raise feminist boys while making every effort not to pull her hair out of exasperation.

Namrata has been awarded ‘Best Mom Blogger – TAA Awards 2019’ and ‘Star Parenting Influencer of the Year – DIA Stallion Awards 2020’. She has also been featured on ‘Official Humans of Hyderabad‘ in January 2020 as one of the most powerful voices in the city, talking about the reality of motherhood and body-shaming that her kids underwent. She was also one of the select invitees at the ‘Born On Instagram’ event in Hyderabad, an event conducted by Instagram to bring together creators from different parts of the city.

That’s not all! As a well-known social media influencer, she has worked with brands like Johnson’s and Johnson’s, Voot Kids, Kumon India, Camlin, Protinex, FirstCry, Grofers, etc. She has interviewed the likes of Shilpa Reddy, Sridevi Jasti, and Sucheta Pal. In January 2020, she hosted an event that brought together 80 powerful social media influencers with the aim of ‘Community Over Competition’ as she strongly believes in women supporting women and being their biggest cheerleaders.

About Priyanka Mallik

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Priyanka Mallik – Software Engineer and Blogger

Namrata’s partner-in-crime was Priyanka Mallik. Priyanka is a software engineer by profession and a blogger by choice. She is constantly torn between the zeal to do something for women’s health, both mental and physical, to changing the things which are normalized otherwise.

I had a quick interview with Namrata and Priyanka to understand more about their campaign. 

How did the concept or idea of #HydSmashesStereotypes come about? 

Namrata: A casual conversation between Priyanka and I just had us sort of wondering what we could do to bring people together and celebrate Women’s Day by creating a splash on social media, by spreading a powerful message. That’s where it all started!

Priyanka: Namrata and I were just talking about how we are all breaking stereotypes one day, and we thought that we should do something about it. Instead of an event, we felt that photos would speak more effectively to a broader audience.

What is the #HydSmashesStereotypes campaign about?

Namrata: Every woman, in her way, is smashing stereotypes of color, of profession, of what she should or should not do. This every day, smashing of stereotypes should also be celebrated! That’s what the #HydSmashesStereotypes campaign is about. It is also an attempt to use the power of prominent social media influencers to show how you, me, and every individual out there is working hard every single day to smash gender stereotypes and contribute towards a gender-equal world. We are amplifying our voices together because we all believe strongly in empowering ourselves for the betterment of our future and that of our families and society at large. We are trying to prompt every person to introspect and understand what they are doing to support the cause, and if they aren’t – no better time than now to start!

Priyanka: There are so many stereotypes that are attached to women in particular. Like how a woman should dress according to her age, to how she should be smiling. I wanted to portray through the #HydSmashesStereotypes that we can be wild and free! 

What is your message to women this Women’s Month? 

Namrata: Understand your strength and your power and use it to support yourself, your dreams, and also other women. Smash the stereotype and show that empowered women empower women!

Priyanka: Don’t play by the rules. We were all meant to break free.

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You can follow Namrata at: 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/namratabs/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/namrata.bhagtanisadhvani

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NamrataSadhvani  

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You can follow Priyanka at: 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/from_vodka_to_nappies

Let’s dive into getting to know the other awesome women in this hatke photoshoot. 

Revathy Parthasarathy

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Revathy Parthasarathy – Corporate Professional & Beauty Blogger

Revathy Parthasarathy is a true blue Cancerian who loves being around people. Being the only child from a modest Tam Brahm family, she was pampered as well as groomed to take on the world. Her dad always used to introduce her as, “Here’s my gal, she’s also my boy!”.

As much as those words were said in good intention to drive the message across, Revathy says that somehow she always used to be irked by that statement. She always secretly wished he changed that statement someday & that – he did! 

She has been a hardcore feminist as long as she can remember & is super glad that she found a partner who thinks, speaks & acts the same way. 

Today, Revathy is a mum to a 6.5 yr old gem of a boy. As a mother, her prime agenda lies in grooming and sowing the seeds of virtues like gender equality, gender neutrality, inclusion & diversity, chivalry, and respect for every individual in her son.

Revathy is also a corporate woman, a workaholic who spends 16 hrs. of the day managing a 120+ team on cutting edge IT technologies. That apart, she is passionate about makeup & skincare, fashion, cooking, dancing, trying out new food joints & hanging out with my tribe.

She started blogging in 2012. Eventually, her blog got hacked last year & she has now kicked it off afresh. Revathy is looking to devote a significant time in shaping it up this 2020. 

How Revathy is breaking stereotypes

In Revathy’s words: 

“This may not be the typical Women’s Day message, but it’s an essential message for every woman out there!

I am the only child of my parents & last September; I lost my dad. 

It was a sudden one, on a Sunday morning & I had no one who could come immediately over to my place and support me to take care of necessary things.

We had to cremate the body the same evening & I had arranged everything myself. I was told that being a woman, I was not allowed to perform the last rites.

That person lying breathless there, always used to state, “My gal will take care of everything, EVERYTHING!” 

I took care of my ailing dad like a baby, for the past 6 yrs & who better than I to bid him a fitting farewell, one last time!

I bulldozed my way through the pandit & crematorium guy’s claims & beliefs and performed all the rituals single-handedly.

Neighbors & relatives had so many opinions & reactions to share, but my immediate family stood by me & that’s the only thing that mattered! 

So, this girl broke stereotypes by getting inside the crematorium & performing her dad’s last rites with full respect all by herself. Something, I will always, always be proud of & I owe it to the very same person – my dad, who shaped me up to face any adversity squarely in its face & get the best of it! 

As much as it was tough, it was liberating & filled me with content. I did what I wanted, what “my dad” wanted! 

Didn’t mean to dull anyone’s mood this Women’s Day, but as a firm believer & advocate of gender equality, let me tell you that equality starts from the womb, till death do us apart! 

Don’t let anyone show you your place, define your rights, or limit your abilities because you are a “woman.” Don’t succumb to pressures in the name of rites, rituals, beliefs, society, or religion. YOU DO YOU, ladies! ALWAYS!”

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You can follow Revathy at:

Website: https://thearistochic.online/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thearistochic

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/the.aristochic/

Prathyusha Parakala

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Prathyusha Parakala – Adventurer & RJ

Prathyusha Parakala is the only woman from the Telugu region to have been on the International Antarctic Expedition 2018 to study about Climate Change. 

How Prathyusha Parakala is breaking stereotypes

“I’ve always been told how women must be gentle, conservative, and dependent. While none of that is wrong, expecting every woman to be just that, felt unacceptable. Hence I’ve always pushed my limits to the farthest on my motorcycle, or highest on solo treks in the Himalayas or simply going to the end of the World, Antarctica, following my passion for the Environment & Climate Action.”

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You can follow Prathyusha at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/PrathyushaCFA18/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PrathyushaCFA18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PrathyushaCFA18

Megha Maheshwari

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Megha Maheshwari – Traveler, Foodie & Homemaker

Megha Maheshwari is an engineer by qualification and homemaker by profession. She has worked for an MNC for four years and then quit her job to travel with her husband. Traveling and good food are what Megha’s passions are. She is happily following her heart’s calling along with her super supportive husband and cute Lil 3-year-old daughter.

How Megha is breaking stereotypes

When Megha quit her job, she heard 101 assumptions from people why she had quit. But none of them said that she was quitting it for her happiness. Megha is sad to see that people still believe that it’s stupid to leave a secured salaried job to do something that makes you happy. She hopes to inspire more women like her to listen to their heart and pursue their happiness fearlessly. 

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You can follow Megha at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/Momandthebeauty/

Chhaya Sharma

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Chhaya Sharma – Founder of Hyderabad Moms

Chhaya Sharma is the founder and admin of Hyderabad Moms (HM) Community and Indianmommie. Through HM, she provides a parenting support system to all moms and moms-to-be so that they can connect for networking, parenting, food and recipes, health and fitness, shopping and lifestyle, peer to peer support and social work. It’s strictly a women-only community. At HM, they believe in supporting each other and growing together. 

And through Indianmommie, Chhaya shows her parenting journey in raising her child and, as a woman, how she manages her home, life, kid, and work. She wants to encourage other women to pursue their dreams.

How Chhaya is breaking stereotypes

People often say women don’t support women or are jealous of other women. But, I am breaking this stereotype as I not only talk about women supporting women, but I walk the talk as well. HM is the best example of it because I believe if we want gender equality, then we must first support other women.

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You can follow Chhaya at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/indianmommie/

https://www.instagram.com/hyderabadmommies/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/hyderabadmommies/

Aastha Maheshwari

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Aastha Maheshwari – Travel Blogger

Aastha Maheshwari is a travel blogger who left her finance job to pursue her passion for traveling and writing. 

How Aastha is breaking stereotypes

“One huge stereotype in India is that girls can’t travel alone. I break this stereotype by being strong, safe, and well prepared. It’s not the society that stops us from doing our things: following our passion, it’s our mindset. After a point, we start living with these stereotypes and accept the fact that we can’t. We need to introspect and push our limits to achieve what we want. Be it going alone, or challenging preconceived notions of the society. 

Girls, Face the sun and say it was the strongest one only till you didn’t realize you rise! From a Rose to Rise, you’re a damsel!”

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You can follow Aastha on:

Website: http//:aasthainwanderland.in

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/aasthainwanderland/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aasthainwanderland/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wanderitaa

Sabista Khan

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Sabista Khan – Entrepreneur and Designer

Sabista Khan is the Founder of The Cinderella Story. She is a 27-year-old designer from Mumbai and based in Hyderabad post marriage. 

How Sabista is breaking stereotypes

“I have always been told how I don’t look married, especially don’t look like the quintessential Hyderabadi Muslim daughter-in-law. Thanks to my red hair and outfit choices. The stereotype I am smashing is that my religion or relationship status do not choose my outfit for me, I do!”

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You can follow Sabista at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thecinderellastoryofficial/

Sheetal Gandhi

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Sheetal Gandhi – Software Engineer

Sheetal Gandhi is a software engineer by profession and a mom of a two-year-old. She is a huge advocate of clothes’ upcycling.

How Sheetal is breaking stereotypes

“All moms who aren’t able to breastfeed their children go through the guilt and the societal pressure of not being the perfect mother dairy. More than the society, it’s the demons within that haunt us. But we all need to tell ourselves that it does not make us any less of a mother. Formula feed is the next best thing and highly recommended by doctors too.
A fully fed child is a happy and healthy child.”

You can follow Sheetal at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/zoobismum/

Dimple Wadhwani

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Dimple Wadhwani – Biker, Entrepreneur, Food Blogger

Dimple Wadhwani is a biker by passion. She is an Entrepreneur, Ex Banker, and Food Blogger.  

How Dimple Wadhwani is breaking stereotypes

If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins. Riding big motorbikes is always called a man’s job. I am breaking this stereotype. I am a Biker, or you can also call me Bikerni.

Motorcycling is not a Phase for me. It’s my life. It’s not a hobby; it’s my passion. It’s not for everyone; it’s for me.

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You can follow Dimple at:  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dimplewadhwani29

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dimple wadhwani

Tina Sequeira

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Tina Sequeira – Author, Mentor, Marketer

You know about me already! But still here goes, I’m an author, marketer, and founder of The Write Away Program, a creative writing workshop for children. 

How Tina breaks stereotypes

I am a firm believer in the adage “The pen is mightier than the sword.” The human mind and intellect have always been fascinating for me, and a huge motivator behind all my life choices and actions. 

I knew instinctively as a child that I wanted to be a writer. I was a voracious reader for one, and two, I had a wild imagination coupled with opinions on everything and anything. So here I am fulfilling my childhood dream. I tell everyone that I am a born feminist. You know, as they say, a born dancer! Even as a child, when I sensed discrimination, I spoke about it vocally. Nothing much has changed ever since, as you can see! Today, I write extensively on a lot of sociopolitical and gender issues, apart from my creative writing pursuits – prose & poetry.  

All change begins from within. And if we as women don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will. Let us genuinely support ourselves from within and other women around us. That was also one of the prime reasons why I agreed to be part of the #HydSmashesStereotypesCampaign. 

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You can follow me at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thetinaedit/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tinaseq/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tinajsequeira

Meet the men behind the lens

We had two talented photographers in Karthik and Sankeerth, who were enthusiastic participants of the #HydSmashesStereotypes campaign. 

Karthik Gandhi

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Karthik Gandhi – Food Blogger and Photographer

Karthik Gandhi is an avid food blogger based in Hyderabad. His social avatar Gastrohogger is just the outpouring of his gastronomic hogging journey, where he shares his experiences, and connects with people. More importantly, he is out there to learn about food – food – food. Karthik can vouch that “there is no other love purer than for food,” and that’s what makes gastrohogger believe in KEEP HOGGIN’ … KEEP BLOGGIN’. 

Karthik says, “My world revolves around four ladies all the time. My lovely wife Lallu & 3 Divanikas (Tharnika – Poornika – Shrinika). Being a Food Influencer / Blogger for almost 6 Yrs now, I felt that I hit a plateau until I realized that my writing passion is demanding something more or unique from me. So, I decided to share the love I receive as Daddy around my three princesses and share them with the world. I write about my daughters, family, and how beautiful they make my life. And here I am today!  

Karthik shares his #HydSmashesStereotypes experience 

I have been talking more about the #HydSmashesStereotypes campaign with Priyanka (mommy blogger and dear friend for around 5-6 yrs now) since I feel so strongly about it. It’s high time we as media influencers do something about it in different forms and forums. So when Namrata and Priyanka came up with this idea and invited me to be part of it, I readily agreed—being a dad of 3 daughters. I felt that it was the right thing to do as a father, husband, and a man who is supportive of women. How many instances in our lives do women sacrifice and stay in the sideline while men prove their work towards profession or passion? It’s time to give the due focus to our women, and that can only be done by breaking stereotyping women and their responsibilities. It has to be 50:50 as partners in everything, be it cooking, cleaning, or parenting kids and being supportive of each other’s passion and dreams. Men should not feel that they are giving space to women. It’s fair that women are demanding what’s rightfully theirs, and we need to be gentlemen to step aside or better still push them to higher levels of glory which they deserve. So, it’s no surprise why I said “Yes” in a jiffy for this campaign. And oh, man! What a short but memorable experience it was to see such bold moms speaking their hearts, including jokes with such unabashedness. This is the vibe that our city needs where it’s acceptable to hang out with anyone, and we don’t feel the need to give/snatch one’s personal space. It’s a great campaign, and I hope we inject this culture into every forum or group we meet. I would like to make it more a sustainable attitude than a one-time wonder in our demanding yet depriving society.

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You can reach out to Karthik at:

Website: https://www.gastrohogger.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gastrohogger/

Phone: +91 9989558935

Email: Karthik.gandhi@gmail.com

Sankeerth Shinde

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Sankeerth Shinde – Software Engineer and Photographer

Sankeerth Shinde, aka ShindeSaab is a software engineer by profession and photographer by passion. Initially, everything was about fiction for him, but later, he found love towards food blogging. As a result, he started holding the camera and looking at the world through his unique lens and perspective.

Sankeerth shares his #HydSmashesStereotypes experience 

.#HydSmashesStereotypes was a fantastic project to work on. I got the opportunity to meet many inspiring and powerful women who were breaking societal stereotypes in their way. 

You can reach out to Sankeerth at:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shindesaab/

It’s a Wrap!

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Hey, we got cool gifts too!

It was as much a pleasure being part of the #HydSmashesStereotypes campaign as much as it was writing about it. Thank you, Namrata and Priyanka, for being such gracious hosts, the lovely gift sponsored by Avni- Gift Green, and a warm brunch at Ants Cafe, Gachibowli.

On that note, here’s wishing all my fellow women a wonderful Women’s Month. Here’s to many more milestones – and may the force be with all of us and our voice!

While we are smashing stereotypes every single day by being the best version of ourselves & working for the causes we believe in, we chose to make this statement on #WomensMonth because our voices get amplified with those of countless others across the world who are working towards #GenderEquality.

We know #EachForEqual is the only way towards a gender-equal world & this is our attempt to support it, as #HydSmashesStereotypes!

I’d love to hear how you are smashing stereotypes in the comments section below.

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