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"In a society where a large section still believes that educating girls is a part of privilege, whereas educating boys is a necessity, proving your worth as a female student becomes extremely important. In almost all spheres of life, I have seen women around me struggling to prove their worth, working extra hard to establish their capabilities, and being pressured to be constantly productive. I, too, was impacted by this thought process and pressure. Knowingly or unknowingly, the little girl in me since school had started studying to make my space in the patriarchal society that I was being raised in.
Fortunately, I had my grandfather, who relieved me of this pressure and taught me the right value of education. He was a torchbearer of female education since the 1960s; he opened a non-profit school for underprivileged girls and made me realize that education, regardless of gender is one of the most important aspects of one's life. He made me understand the freedom of choices, and it was then that I realized I have to study for myself, I have to study what I want and not to earn the validation of those who will (most) probably always see me as an inferior gender. So, I decided to leave the conventional science path that everyone in the family had and was following. However, as a 17-year-old girl studying in Lucknow, I wasn’t aware of career options apart from engineering, medical, and civil services. This unawareness and confusion led me to Law.
Thus began the most beautiful phase of life- entry into Government Law College. Although initially, I felt out of place, I thought of leaving Law a couple of times during my first and second year of college. It was after interacting with seniors and reading the alumni section in college magazines, I started believing that Law would give me the wings I needed and that there is no straight-jacket formula for success in Law. My belief was strengthened when I heard about seniors who had careers in dancing, music, technology, administration, social work, environmental activism, and so many more unexplored fields; this really inspired me to write my own story.
This freedom and variety of opportunities that GLC, Mumbai gave me is the reason I could gather the courage to embrace the political fanatic in me. I wanted to choose political consultancy as a career when it wasn’t even considered a career option. For most people, a political consultant was like any other party worker who probably shouted slogans in rallies and went around begging for votes. And even though I had always believed that Law and Politics are interconnected, one leads to another, I failed to explain the profession's importance to my family, relatives, and some of my closest friends. I was unable to establish the link between Law and governance and explain that politics will improve only when educated people have maximum participation in it and hence faced resistance at every step. At times I wondered if I should join a law firm and lead a more respectful and approved life, but then I remembered that the most appealing part of the Law for me was - Law as an instrument of social change. And so, with the intent of being a changemaker, I took the leap of faith and joined India’s first and most prominent political advocacy firm.
Being a political consultant has by far been one of the best decisions of my life despite the challenges the field had raised for me. For those who don't know about the field, let me tell you that Political consultancy, just like politics and most industries, was a space dominated by men. No matter how much a woman tried, she apparently always lacked the desired political acumen. From day one, I saw women complaining about the rampant sexism and toxicity of the industry, and after some time I realized they were right. I also realized that the biggest problem was that, as a female political consultant, the fight wasn’t with the management-
it was with the society,
it was with every leader who didn't take me seriously and casually asked, “sir kaha hai?”
(Where is Sir?),
it was with every politically influential person who believed that I would not be able to
understand the political game,
it was with every interviewee who wasn’t comfortable talking to me and would much rather
talk to my intern or even my driver,
it was with the vendors and drivers who waited for someone senior, i.e., a man, to give them
it was with some of my colleagues who preferred a male partner cause; apparently, they will be
responsible for taking care of the women on the field,
it was with all those women who believed fieldwork wasn’t for them and let the men go and
interact with leaders and party stakeholders.
However, amidst this chaotic setup and struggle of ensuring the security of female employees and giving them equal opportunities, I ended up finding the right people- all the men right, from my director to my driver, respected me, appreciated me, and made me love the entire political consultancy set up. I did face sexism on the ground, but fortunately, I tackled it with the confidence my team, my seniors, women in higher positions, and my friends showed in me. I also witnessed a positive change in this field when I began working on the Uttar Pradesh elections in 2021. I saw women rising in the field, men uplifting women in the field, and political consultancy as an industry being more receptive towards women. I was surprised and humbled at the respect I got from each member, the responsibility and the kind of work that my campaign head gave me, and the trust in my judgment that the men on the field showed, at the leaders who looked into my eyes, shared their problems, discussed solutions and talked to me without doubting my intellect. This campaign gave me new hope. I started believing in myself. If I could go to the biggest metropolitan cities and remotest rural areas and feel empowered and in charge, feel productive, and feel confident enough to put a piece of my mind before politicians with a criminal background, orthodox sarpanches, and powerful chief ministers- I was sure I am heading in the right direction.
This journey from Law to politics showed me that it is all about how you shape your confidence, how you perceive yourself, and what kind of people you have surrounded yourself with. I have been indebted to law school, to my company, to all the seniors, and to all the amazing colleagues and friends who pushed me to take risks, overcome hindrances, and travel on the road less taken!
As females, we often tend to restrict ourselves, but life begins when you take risks. Don't be scared to explore! Life is all about finding yourself and your people- those who believe in you and stay by your side in Law and Lawlessness (read politics)."
- Sansriti Sen Singh
Ms. Sansriti Sen Singh is an alum of Government Law College, Mumbai. She recently completed her Master's from The National University of Advanced Legal Studies, Kochi. She is a lawyer turned into a policy and political consultant. She started working on political campaigns as an intern at Indian Political Action Committee during the Lok Sabha 2019 elections and became part of the core team for two of the most interesting assembly elections- West Bengal 2021 and Maharashtra 2019. She then moved on to work directly with Aam Aadmi Party for the Uttar Pradesh elections and assisted Samajwadi Party's women wing during the final phase of elections. She is one of the very few political consultants who has worked and observed a general election, assembly election, and zilla panchayat elections in her short span in the industry.