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WOW Woman – Malathi Rai

By Aryeman

We can go through life experiencing pain, and finding some way to accommodate that pain that takes on a projection-blame-making-others-responsible approach, but when we come to a point of knowing we can no longer project our blame — that there is both good and bad in life at large — this recognition is often what propels us to wake up from our illusions.

Our WOW Woman has the panache, the punch and that exhaustive passion to dedicate her time and energies to social causes. She deserves a standing ovation for her commendable work blended with the undefeatable spirit to make a difference to the world. Her thoughts will surely stir your inner conscience to gear up and do something with your life.

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Malathi Rai is a Vice President-HR & Facilities for an MNC and a Social worker.   With a strong background in corporate life and an insatiable appetite for more, armed with nothing but a steely resolve to give back to society and a burning desire to lead a life less ordinary, Rural Mania, is an initiative spearheaded by her.

She has adopted three villages Aliumal, Aaptale and Chothyachiwadi in Jawahar Taluka, Palghar district (Jawhar is a tribal region mostly inhabited by Adivasis). She visited a village in Jawahar district years back, saw the beauty of the place and the abject poverty and she decided on adopting villages and addressing their needs comprehensively.

What do you consider the main achievements in your life?

I don’t think I’ve achieved something great. Like everyone else I’ve tried to manage the multiple roles I play in my life to the best of my abilities.  I’m happy I’ve been able to give back to society in some small way. Not everybody has the time or the inclination to do something like that. I am fortunate I had both. Well, actually, once you have the latter, making the time for your passion becomes easier.

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What qualities do Women need to imbibe within themselves to be more Empowered and successful in life?

If we as Women want to be successful, we should engage with life on our terms.  I always knew I wanted to be a serious career woman. I made sure I set that out as a condition to everyone in the family and it worked.  I keep telling other women – Don’t make excuses for yourself just because you’re a woman.

What drives you to be at the Top of your Game? What are your success strategies?

If you have the spirit and the passion, it is the same things that drives any achiever to succeed. The need to push yourselves to the limit and to test what you’re truly capable of is the driving force. Success comes with hard work and lots of sacrifices. That’s the ultimate success mantra.

Have you dealt with failure? If so, how did you overcome it and resurge when all the chips were down?

Of course, I’ve had my share of failures.  In my earlier days, I used to let it get to me. I would get depressed, lose my self-confidence and question whether I really knew what I was doing.  Today I am more pragmatic, I know that you cannot succeed and stretch your boundaries without encountering failure somewhere.  Even the great Ratan Tata had a Nano – which was probably a technical success but a marketing failure.

It is important for us to recognize the power of men in supporting women. Is there a man who has played an instrumental role in your personal growth and success? Who are they and how did they influence you?

There are many men who have contributed to my personal growth and success. In order of how they appeared in my life – my father – who always encouraged me in everything I did.  My husband – who has been my biggest cheer-leader and who has adjusted in unimaginable ways so I could pursue what I wanted to.

Many colleagues, managers and mentors– there are too many to be named – but all of them added their own unique flavour to my life and offered me some learning.

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Which 3 Indian women have inspired you in your life and why?

Again, there are too many in every sphere of life. I like strong women, who level the playing field for themselves – without losing their femininity.  The other day I saw a women in a saree smartly driving an auto-rickshaw.  I stopped to congratulate her on her bold choice.

I think that women displayed equality much more than you or me. We come from a background where it is easier to demand a level playing field – but coming from the socio-economic strata that she did, I think her victory was much bigger than mine.

I salute the women traffic cops, the women who drive the Mumbai Local trains, women who take on roles that are typically male-dominated, – without the benefit of the cushion that some of us privileged women have.

Which causes related to Women would you like to support?

Any discrimination against women is wrong.  I support equality – not in the sense of allowing women to enter a religious place of worship – those can wait.

I think there are other causes that need immediate attention – dowry, abandoning women and leaving them with children,   not letting a woman have control on family planning, early marriage – it pains me to see girls as young as 14 getting married in the villages I work in – even today.


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