Pallavi Pareek as a child knew that she would create something of her own that would affect the way society functions for its different genders. When she enrolled in a class in college, she was inspired by her mentor and professor – Gil Jocson.
“A specialist and expert in Change Management, he inspired me to study this field and understand every situation from a lens of identifying the changing patterns, risks, devising initiatives to manage those reactions and converting them into responses,” says Pallavi.
I would have never seen a completely different possibility of a society if it were not for my experiences during growing years in the Philippines.
As humans we are ever changing and so are the models, concepts, and society around us. How one decision creates a line of reaction that will affect the livelihood of millions of people in years to come is a fascinating way of looking at the world. Pallavi’s started her journey in the field of gender advocacy began when she got married and moved back to India. “My marriage did not last, but gave me an opportunity to understand the dynamics of Indian society as a crash course. Having moved to Philippines at a very early age in my life, my understanding of Indian society and how it treats its women was limited to my observation of the family dynamics at home, newspapers and Bollywood movies,” she says. As they say, nothing beats the depth of “individual experience” and that held true for Pallavi as well. As a wife, daughter in law, woman, and working professional – I experienced everything that I had missed out on in my life in Philippines.
Pallavi’s initial idea in 2012 was to start an online resource tool for women where they could come and ask questions regarding their legal rights. She got introduced to Ramanuj Mukherjee and Abhyuday Agarwal who were working on starting their own company which would focus on making legal knowledge accessible in India. “Few meetings together and we three had joined hands to give birth to what is now known as iPleaders. Four years down the line, iPleaders has reached 12 countries and more than 10,000 students learning about the laws that are relevant to them,” says Pareek proudly.
Pareek’s work is very simple to understand but difficult to execute. Simply put, she is a workplace diversity and sexual harassment prevention expert. iPleaders is impacting how sexual harassment affects and viewed in workplaces in India. It is simplifying the compliance of sexual harassment laws for Indian workplaces. Their team is building an army of experts who will further help on creating awareness of these laws, and take its implementation to workplaces in organized and unorganized sector and bring safety for women even in the remotest places of this country.
Pallavi realized the need to have a specific field of study that allows a person interested in becoming a workplace diversity and sexual harassment professional to study it as a field and then cater to their clients. This led to the birth of India’s first and only course on workplace diversity and sexual harassment prevention run online and endorsed by National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata. Through the journey, Pallavi’s parents have been the constant source of support and inspiration. “Society has been difficult and helpful in its own ways. As a single, divorced, thirty-year-old woman working in the field of sexual harassment laws – trust me society isn’t always kind,” says the founder. Pallavi believes that it is important to have faith in what you do.
While growing up in Philippines, the founder discovered a beautiful world where roles for the genders are not rigidly defined and responsibilities are volunteered for. Where a man does not mind staying at home and taking care of house and kids if he seems it necessary for his family. A society where interactions and professions go beyond genders and recognize individual skills and knowledge. When you see a reality like this, Indian society and the way it treats its women becomes intolerable for you.
I would have also joined the crowd of millions of women who accept this society as a normal way of life and accept whatever is thrown their way
Challenges will always be part of the journey for iPleaders, so Pallavi keeps herself motivated from everyday things and people around her. Every day, Pallavi has at least one person, known or unknown to tell her a problem that they are currently facing with respect to gender bias. “I do not even have to wait for a google alert for any rape or harassment story in my email. This is what keeps me going,” she says. But in the journey, there are days when the issues that Pallavi reads, the stories that she hears from sessions and interactions that become quite a drag. “At that point, having a voice close to your heart pulling you up shows you a lot of positivity. My father and Jiju have been my pillar of faith that I get at home from the man-kind,” she adds.
Pallavi believes that she has learned to look beyond her own problems in life. She advises the future womenpreneurs to know that they can ‘have it all’. “People who understand you will be around to watch your back. Other will be there to instigate you with their doubts. Use both kinds to your advantage. Do not waste time and energy justifying your dreams to those who do not understand. At the same time learn to differentiate between those who wish to demotivate you from those who by asking you questions are helping you arrive at having a better clarity,” she ends by saying.