International Women’s Day – How Not To Celebrate

Naren Pai

- March 28, 2017

Author’s note: This article does not suggest practices of any particular organisation(s) and is merely a reflection of practices across sectors and geography. (Translation: if the shoes fit, feel free to take a walk!)

Him: Happy women’s day.
Her: Thank you.
Him: Why aren’t you dressed up like others today?
Her: Err
Him: Come on, it is your day, you must look good and feel special!

If you find yourself amidst all the pinkness in cubicles, mailers and posters and are left wondering if there was a paintball mishap, don’t worry, this is International Women’s Day.  Come 8th March, and office spaces are buzzing with IWD celebrations. There are boxes kept for anonymous “Ms. Pretty” contests where employees have to drop in their suggestions. It is the day to ‘pamper’ and ‘spoil’ your women folk, the posters read. “Hey beauties!”, begins the mailer from the location HR, “Dress in your best attire and turn some heads!”; there is no other way to address the ladies today. Some men-folk are grumpy that nobody “celebrates” them (never mind centuries of a culture of celebrating masculinity and manhood). And you are tired telling them that is not the point of women’s day to begin with, coming across as an absolute woman-hating jerk, because why else will you oppose something that is “one day for women”?

Her 1: I think we must not work today.
Her 2: Why so?
Her 1: It is women’s day! It is our day to enjoy and party.
Her 2: Do you know this year’s IWD theme? (it is Women in the Changing World of Work)

The inherent problem with celebrating International Women’s day the way we do however is that it is not a celebration at all. It is a day to commemorate women’s rights- the arduous journey women all over the world have charted to be treated equally in electoral politics, economies, property inheritance systems, autonomy over one’s body, so on and so forth. In other words, women’s day is not about celebrating prettiness, gentleness (“the weaker sex” eh!) and hundred other objectifying objectives; it is simply an opportunity to highlight real gaps in achieving equal treatment of women (and for me, it is even beyond this gender binary, but that is a tall order)

Do not get me wrong though, if women want to have a day for themselves to let their hair down and look beautiful and pamper and spoil themselves, I am nobody to deny that experience and expression. However, I do not know if these women are empowered enough to ask questions like “thanks for the spa coupon. By the way, where is my equal pay for equal work?”. This discourse is important to have and time is running out. According to UNDP’s The Human Development Report 2016, a measly 13.8% of India’s ‘legislators, senior officials and managers’ are women. According to Monster Salary Index, the gender pay gap in India stands at 27% and labour force participation has reduced from 34% in 2000 to 27% in 2014 according to The World Bank. Regulator SEBI in February 2015 made it mandatory to have at least one woman on the board and has come down with heavy criticism on non-compliant companies ever since. It is another matter that SEBI itself doesn’t not have a woman on its board and has asked the government to make the appointments.

Them 1: Women’s day is sexist.
Them 2: Why do you say so?
Them 1: Because they get all gifts and free vouchers to salon and spa and we get nothing.
Them 2: But that is not the point of women’s day…
Them 1: Whatever, it is unfair.

The issue with making IWD only about beauty contests, spas and salon is that it becomes easier to dismiss the real gaps in achieving gender parity and equity. This is not to diss the IWD celebration efforts in Indian corporate in entirety. Some do tread with thought and sensitivity towards the cause. Concept of diversity and inclusion is only just evolving in Indian workspaces. Some companies have partnered with medical organisations to offer free medical checkups for women employees. Skill-based courses are being offered to women (instead of just the annual ‘self-defence’ and ‘body image grooming’ ones); things that will make women more employable, more effective in their roles. Affirmative action in terms of recruitment drives for women are welcome. Steps like week long seminars for all employees (not just women) on creating awareness on issues of women at work (biases, harassment and other things they do not talk about) and how the scales are already tipped against working mothers can go a long way in bringing perspective among men employees.

About the Author

Naren is a former automotive design professional, now “figuring out the world with a pen and a notepad”. He is passionate about social justice, diversity and inclusion through policy initiatives and “might just do something about it one of these days”. 

Stay updated with perspectives from leading experts

Scroll to Top
The Ultimate DEI SaaS Tool

DEI measurement and benchmarking

Inclusive recruitment strategy

Interactive courses

Diversity calendar

Inclusion game

Culture survey

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion

Unconscious bias awareness

LGBTQ inclusion

Psychological safety

Inclusive leadership

Workplace equity index

Gender advancement scale

DEI roadmap

DEI policy drafting


PoSH compliance

Sexual harassment awareness



Code of conduct

Compliance policy drafting

Bystander intervention

Respect at work

Legal insights

Simplified compliance information about anti-sexual harassment, anti-discrimination, PoSH, and more


Download whitepapers, industry DEI reports, and toolkits


Download whitepapers, industry DEI reports, and toolkits


Use Serein’s posters and videos to engage your employees


See how industry leaders partner with Serein to achieve their DEI goals


Meet our team of experts designing DEI solutions just for you

Nithya R

HR and Compliance Lead

Nithya drives operational excellence within the HR function. She ensures that Serein maintains the highest standards of HR practices and ethical conduct. Her role extends beyond traditional HR responsibilities as she also serves as an External Member of the Internal Complaints Committee (ICC) for Serein’s clients, specialising in preventing workplace harassment through the PoSH vertical.

Nithya has graduated in Commerce from the University of Lucknow and has rich experience in hiring and retaining the best talents in the industry with companies like BukuWarung and

Nandini Abraham

Statistical Analyst

Nandini conducts extensive industry-specific research on DEI trends in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Nandini is responsible for developing statistical models for DEI assessment on Serein’s DEI SaaS Tool. She designs measurement tools for DEI benchmarking, inclusion assessments, and employee experience surveys.

Nandini is passionate about creating engaging and impactful reports, toolkits, and playbooks for Serein’s customers.

Nandini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, Mathematics & Statistics from St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore.

Sharanya Venkataraghavan

Safety and PoSH expert

Sharanya serves as a PoSH external member for 15+ companies in e-commerce, fintech, healthcare, SaaS, and more. She supports partner organisations on legal procedures and best practices to build safe work cultures.

She has been involved in the review of PoSH policies, labour law compliances, and research regarding the risk of secondary victimisation of complainants under the PoSH Act.

Sharanya graduated with BBA, LLB (Hons.) degree from Symbiosis Law School, Pune. She has experience in PoSH and employment law with notable law firms like Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas and Co., J. Sagar and Associates, among others.

Kirtika N

Safety and PoSH expert

Kirtika is an expert speaker and workshop facilitator on topics like sexual harassment awareness, bystander intervention, and anti-harassment redressal mechanisms. She has developed learning content for investigating committees on topics like witness cooperation in a workplace sexual harassment inquiry proceeding. 

Kirtika serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in fintech, healthcare, business management, gaming, and more. She has 50+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations at the workplace and supporting partner organisations on legal procedure and best practices.

She has a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Montfort College, Bengaluru, and has experience working as a trainee counselor.

Rishab Prasad

DEI Specialist

Rishab is passionate about creating long-term partnerships with Serein’s customers. He is responsible for marketing, operations, customer onboarding, contract writing, and relationship building. Rishab uses his directing and filmmaking skills to design engaging content for Serein’s social media platforms.

Rishab holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with Honours from CHRIST University, Bangalore. He has directed more than nine short films on topics like stigmas of menstruation, widowhood, and adoption.

Bhavini Pant

Safety and PoSH expert

Bhavini serves as a PoSH external member for 30+ companies in industries like education, healthcare, IT, Pharma, and more. She has 70+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace and supporting partner organizations on the legal procedure and best practices for workplace safety.

Before Serein, Bhavini worked as an archivist at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, and as an editorial assistant for IIT Bombay’s PR and Alumni Associations department.

She has a Master’s degree in Education from Azim Premji University where she worked extensively with the management on anti-sexual harassment legal implementation. Her work involved the interpretation of the law in a university as a workplace and an educational institution for adults. 

Rhea D’Silva


Rhea is the aesthetic and creative eye behind Serein’s marketing and sales collateral. She manages website content and social media content calendar. She works closely with Serein’s content experts to design catchy invites, toolkits, and company culture reports.

Rhea creates animated content for Serein’s learning platform. She is focused on understanding the user’s need for engagement and learning to create impactful content. 

Rhea holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai where she majored in advertising.

Thejaswini CA

LMS Platform Associate

Thejaswini is responsible for the operations and maintenance of Serein’s in-house e-learning platform. She assists customers to deliver learning content and assess employee engagement through Serein’s tracking system. 

Thejaswini is also engaged with finance and other operations to ensure Serein’s 500+ long-term partners are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law.

Thejaswini holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Application from Field Marshal KM Cariappa College, Kodagu.

Arathi Kannan

Head of DEI: India, Global

Arathi leads the design and execution of DEI measurement tools for global partners. These include Serein’s Diversity Index, the scope of unconscious bias in recruitment and promotions, and the scope of unconscious bias in external messaging. 

She has also designed a standardized tool to review company policies and products through an inclusion lens. Arathi leads workshops on inclusion, unconscious bias, domestic violence, mental health, and well-being. 

Arathi is a published researcher with Master’s degrees in Applied Psychology and Criminology from Bond University, Australia. Her experience includes working with people from different backgrounds, including refugee groups.

Dr. Ruchika Sharma

Guest Consultant: Gender

Ruchika assists with research and facilitation of sessions on domestic violence, sexual harassment, employee well-being, and women’s leadership. She is a feature writer for Serein’s blogs where she writes about gender, women’s history, domestic violence, and sexual harassment awareness in the workplace.

Ruchika is a published author with books like ‘Concubinage, Race and Law in Early Colonial Bengal: Bequeathing Intimacy, Servicing the Empire’ published by Routledge, Taylor, and Francis publications. She has been teaching History at the University of Delhi for over a decade. She has a Ph.D. in History from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Faakirah Junaid Rafiquee

Head of Legal

Faakirah is a legal professional and expert facilitator on topics like anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. Faakirah has conducted 100+ training sessions on the prevention of sexual harassment for employees and internal committee members.

She has 150+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace. Her legal research at Serein includes policy analysis, human rights, women’s rights, and document drafting.

Faakirah is an experienced legal professional. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in law with a focus on women’s rights and policy analysis from the University of Kashmir. She holds a Master of Law degree specializing in alternative dispute resolution from O.P Jindal School of Law.

Aparna Pandurangan

Head of Operations

Aparna is leading the finance and operations at Serein. She has also been responsible for Serein’s online platform, customer management, and marketing.

She works closely with Serein’s 500+ long-term partners to ensure they are compliant with the Prevention of Sexual Harassment (PoSH) law. Aparna is a workshop facilitator on topics like the prevention of sexual harassment at the workplace in languages like Tamil, Telugu, and Kannada.

Aparna Pandurangan holds a degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Anna University, Chennai. 

Bianca D’Costa

Head of PoSH: India, Global

Bianca leads the compliance partnerships and workshops on anti-sexual harassment, anti-harassment and anti-discrimination laws in India, South East Asia, Europe, and the USA. She has 100+ hours of experience consulting on sexual harassment investigations in the workplace.

Bianca designs gamified learning modules for a unique and impactful learner experience on topics like gender inclusion, PwD inclusion, LGBTQIA+ inclusion, and regional inclusion among others. 

Before Serein, Bianca worked in hospitality for 5 years with Emirates Airlines. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Xavier’s University, Mumbai. She is presently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender and Sexuality in Global Politics from SOAS University of London.

Chryslynn D’Costa

Co-founder and CPO |

Chryslynn leads the product development of Serein’s DEI SaaS tool. She designs learning content and strategic insights for companies to measure their DEI growth, and achieve bias-free recruitment and psychological safety.

Chryslynn is a regular columnist with publications like ‘LiveMint’ and ‘The Hindu’ where she writes about unconscious bias, prevention of sexual harassment, and company culture.

Before Serein, she was a Gandhi Fellow working in rural Rajasthan to address educational leadership and gender equity in government schools. She graduated from Azim Premji University in Bangalore with a Master’s in Education where she specialised in gender and sexuality education.

Dr. Ishani Roy

Founder and CEO

Ishani founded Serein to provide a data and research-based approach to solving DEI challenges at the workplace. She advises company leaders, startup founders, and venture capital firms on industry best practices to increase diversity and design a DEI roadmap.

Ishani is a recipient of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Award 2023 for the global impact of her work in the DEI space.

Before founding Serein, Ishani was a scientist at GE Research working in the Aerospace Lab. She holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from Brown University on developing mathematical models to solve Astrophysics problems. She did her Post-doctoral studies at the University of Oxford and St. Thomas Hospital in Biomathematics.

Subscribe to Serein research

Please fill in your contact details

Tell us which reports to send you