International Women’s Day 2021

Women's Day

This year, the International Women’s Day theme is to #choosetochallenge.

‘’A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.’’

From challenge comes change.

My personal choice is to challenge the idea of what a leader looks like.

I’ve examined myself & observed a subconscious bias of what I believe a strong leader looks like.  Deep down in my psyche I imagine a leader as someone utterly fearless,  un-phased by pressure, in particular immune to emotional pressure. Decisive, charismatic with a big extrovert personality and loud booming voice that everyone else can’t help but follow.  Someone exceptionally intelligent that all the answers come naturally to.  I’m imagining ‘Genghis Khan’ conquering the entire known world of his time!

That image of the quintessential leader no doubt has been informed by my upbringing, by what society around me has applauded, the history I’ve been taught, the culture expressed in movies & books I’ve consumed and a reflection of the times I live in.

This imaginary leader probably would be a pretty cool leader but I choose to challenge that it’s not the only image of leadership.

The cost of not choosing to challenge this subconscious bias is if I only imagine the perfect leader to be that kind of human, I don’t quite fit the bill. As a consequence I have a hard time accepting my own leadership skills and building on them. The cost to that is a lack of confidence which can be self limiting and doesn’t do justice to Kasa or the team who have invested their careers and ambitions in it.

An additional cost to not challenging this image of leadership is that I could potentially miss out on the opportunity of following the leadership of another who may not look like Genghis but have so much to offer me.

In fact, I’ve led my team since 2008 through a financial crisis, a constitutional crisis & Covid.  In one of the hardest industries, in one of the most difficult cities to do business in and with formidable competition to contend with.

I choose to challenge that leaders can look like this too:

Kasa Women's Day Photo
Drive Through late night double feature movie during a COVID lockdown.

If you are interested in seeing the internal dialogue, the tough business decisions and the emotional trauma involved in running independent restaurants through this past year with COVID, I have opened up my personal journals from around this time last year (excuse the rawness).  What’s interesting is how much fear and stress is present.  And if you know me personally, I have a far from loud and booming voice:)

We invite you to come and celebrate International Women’s day with us with our 5th annual tradition of rewarding those who make a pledge with a Chai or Samosa on us.  What will you choose to challenge?

Kickstart this year’s celebrations with these #ichoosetochallenges:

Wendy (operations manager & co owner): I choose to challenge gender norms. I think women have been, for too long, been underestimated. I can only challenge this by living my life as an example to my employees, friends, family and children, so they can see the reality of what women are capable of.

Jiya Khanna (my daughter):  I challenge the wage gap because I think it’s unfair to women who work as hard as men and are unable to get the same reimbursement.  I want it to be gone by the time I am a professional.

Ana (my close friend’s daughter): I choose to challenge domestic abuse.  A lot of people don’t talk about it because it’s taboo.

Karam Khanna (my son): I choose to challenge inequality.  International women’s day is a time to reflect on the past and we need a day to do this, today it’s easy to say my boss is a woman or co-worker is a woman.  It’s important to remember that it hasn’t always been that way and that there is still a struggle, we could be better tomorrow.


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