International Women's Day 2021: We need to break the norm of what women 'should do', says actor Ritwika Gupta

While men with traditional masculinity take pride and claim to be the real masters when it comes to multitasking and know the art of juggling different roles better than their female counterparts, there are women who are debunking such myths every day by donning different hats with ease and élan. And one such woman is Ritwika Gupta. An actor, anchor and a digital creator, Ritwika hustles hard to be the best version of herself. Know how Ritwika is establishing herself in different quarters and inspiring other women with her endeavours. Excerpts from an interview with Ritwika:

What does women empowerment mean to you?

To me, women empowerment is the ability to be true to yourself, and lead your life just the way you want. It’s about giving women equal opportunities, rights and the respect we duly deserve. This also means lifting and supporting other women and sometimes it’s also about breaking stereotypes, redefining beauty, success, and womanhood as a whole.

You were brought up in Singapore, and at the age of 22 you moved to Mumbai. So, from being a Singapore girl to a Mumbaikar, how has the shift been for you?

Initially, it’s always tough when you shift to a new country. I didn’t know much about Mumbai or the people here. From finding a house to scouting for work, it’s been a crazy journey, to say the least. I met so many different people and donned many hats while trying to pay my bills. I did ads, plays, TV serials before finally finding my ground and a platform to express.

If we talk about women safety, then how safe or how different is India than Singapore?

Singapore is one of safest countries in the world and it is generally extremely safe for women. The laws in Singapore are very strict and crime rates are low. I feel laws in India need to be implemented in a time bound manner. We need to see more women in every sphere of society. And along with that, changing the mindsets of certain people is crucial when it comes to women safety in India.

You are an actor, anchor and digital creator there must be so much on your plate. How do you manage to multitask?

On TV, I have an entire team to guide me on my hosting, scripting, hair, make-up and overall presentation. It is just like any other job. On digital though, I am my own boss. I am responsible for the content I put out there. Right from shooting to editing, marketing, and my digital presence, I have to independently take charge.

So, I prefer planning my content at least two weeks in advance in order to maintain consistency and use my time well. And in between my TV and digital work, whenever an exciting acting project comes my way, I lap it up. It often gets very hectic but I enjoy what I do and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What challenges do you face as a female digital creator?

Well firstly, there’s an impression that this industry is not a good place for women. So, you are already met with judgements even before you start your career. And then people have this assumption that all we do is pose and click pictures. They think our work is so easy. If only people knew how much time and effort it goes in producing content consistently. And, finally, dealing with trolls remains a concern. Women do get a lot of lewd and sleazy comments on social media. It sometimes takes a toll on your mental health.

Do you think that grooming and styling really make a woman feel confident and empowered?

Styling is just a tool to accentuate your personality and identity. It can boost confidence because at the end of the day, it is about perception and most of us want to create a good impression and make an impact. However, it is not always about outer appearance. Even the best of grooming can’t help if you do not feel confident, comfortable and empowered from within.

Tell us three things that really pave way for women empowerment.

Firstly, I think education can really transform, empower and help women to change their lives. Secondly, we must challenge harmful and outdated gender roles and stereotypes. We need to break the norm of what women ‘should do’ and instead encourage women to be ambitious, find a voice and express. I believe in the power of the pack. Women should support other women and encourage them to take on new challenges.

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