An upcoming anthology of women titled ‘The New Woman’ – a project lead by Ritu Sharma, is a collection of 34 stories of women who have undergone transformation through adversity, spread across five continents,. The book will be launched on 27 July.
Under the umbrella of Ritu’s organisation Kaushalya UK, the anthology will showcase “women who have been broken by the challenges they have faced, but have emerged whole and even more beautiful and strong. Based on the concept of Kintsugi, where the Japanese repair broken pottery with powder gold lacquer to highlight imperfections, this book will be one of a kind,” says Ritu.
Ritu is many things, an ambassador for the empowerment of women, an entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of Kaushalya UK, a registered, not for profit, community organisation working to empower and uplift women.
One of Kaushalya UK’s mission statements is to highlight and celebrate the impact that women have made on the people and the world around them. To that end, Ritu has been collecting and collating stories from women around the world for a new book. Global Indian Stories caught up with Ritu to find out more.
Showcasing women’s lives
So what was the driving force behind the project ‘The New Woman’? “Women go through challenges of one form or the other, in general. The learnings women get out of these challenges are phenomenal and if shared, can be of great help and of value to those who need them,” says Ritu.
“I believe that many women go through similar challenges and still feel that they are the only ones. In our cognitive isolation, we tend to treat these experiences as unique and novel, and that is how gender-based discrimination becomes normalised in our societies. By sharing these stories, we are not only exposing what is done to women on a regular basis, making them believe this is OK, but also creating an awareness that we do not have to keep repeating the narrative. Change is possible! And so is happiness.”
Ritu has a vision. She sees this book as an honest and true reflection of challenges faced by many women. “The vision is to give a shout out to those women who have beat their personal adversities and have arisen above them. Now they are headed to empower other women through their learning and their implication,” she says. The book also aims to remove any shame, guilt or embarrassment attached to any women related issues in this world.
‘The New Woman’ will hopefully be the first of many such books. “This will be an ongoing series. We also intend to translate the book in different languages for women across the world,” says Ritu. “We want to reach women everywhere in the world. Especially because our authors are from everywhere in the world.”
This first book will feature 34 women from all different backgrounds of work, cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities. “We are united in womanhood,” explains Ritu, “We have professional singers, business owners, educationists, entrepreneurs like coaches, therapists, podcasters, artists, all and any backgrounds.”
The common thread that holds these stories together is the transformation that each woman takes up as their personal responsibility in response to adversity. “All these women have come together to share their inspirational stories of rising above their disasters and emerging successfully. These stories are full of wisdom, inspiration and success stories,” she says.
Ritu hopes for two things from the book. Firstly, she wants to establish that women are empowered naturally. “One big reason we feel disempowered ever or are made to feel so is because we are subjected to outside pressures, expectations and demands,” she explains.
“We are told what we can and can’t do. We are best accepted when we are submissive to the ‘norms’. What does that even mean? We are individuals and for us to be a healthy society, we must accept each person as they are. That includes all men and women!
“Secondly, on the outset, we see women working on forefronts, taking responsible positions and heading businesses and organisations. That number is very small. Many of us are still struggling to accept ourselves and respond to the call of our purpose. We cannot ignore the majority there! And we certainly cannot ignore the reasons for so many of us still struggling to be happy in our own skin.”
Ritu sees this book as a shout out to all women who have made it, to those who are working on it, and for those who wish to create that change. “It is possible. Do we want it bad enough, is the question?,” she posits.
‘The New Woman’ has various aspects of human life and dynamics of human relationships covered. There are stories around fight with mental health issues, domestic abuse, manipulation, drug abuse and many. Ritu’s contributing chapter talks about her feelings and experience around homelessness.
This is a very personal project, not just for Ritu but the authors of the chapters too. “Most of these are written in first person. As I said, these are stories around personal experiences,” she says.
It won’t be too long to wait either. The plan is to launch the book internationally in July 2021. Kaushalya UK is working with UK-based publishers and the book will be available on Amazon in hard back and as e-book. The book will also be available on various online outlets, including the organisation’s website www.kaushalyauk.com (where you can buy signed copies).
Sharing stories is one way for people to know that they are not alone. Global Indian Stories also believes this strongly. Together, by sharing out tales, we can learn more about the world and gain strength from each other. ‘The New Woman’ is another step in the right direction.