India's Former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao Says No Bar for Women to Reach The Top

She says women can reach anywhere if they believe in who they are and what they want to achieve.

You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Nirupama Menon Rao, India's Foreign Secretary from 2009 to 2011, believes every woman has the intrinsic ability to achieve whatever she wants and how to be shoulder to shoulder with the best in the male counterpart.


A 1973 batch Indian Foreign Service officer, who has been India's Ambassador to the United States, China and Sri Lanka during her career, believes in every field of life, there is no bar for women being on top in terms of what nature has provided.

In a chat with Entrepreneur India at the eight edition of Vibrant Gujarat 2017, Rao called for a ground swell of support to put women in the forefront.

She categorized 4 important virtues needed for women to become leaders in their field.

Believe in Yourself

Rao attributes her success to belief in oneself. She says women can reach anywhere if they believe in who they are and what they want to achieve.

In 1973, Rao topped the All India Civil Services Examination for both the Indian Foreign Service and the Indian Administrative Service, and joined the Indian Foreign Service.

In July 2009, she became the second woman to hold the post of India's Foreign Secretary, the head of the Indian Foreign Service.

Confidence About What You Are

Confident is the key to success, says Rao.

She says there are many positive examples of how Indian women have done very well for themselves, spoken for their country, represented and projected that Indian values are and that can serve as good inspiration.

In her career, Rao has served in several capacities including, Minister of Press, Information and Culture in Washington DC, Deputy Chief of Mission in Moscow, the first woman spokesperson of the MEA, Chief of Personnel, Ambassador to Peru and China, and High Commissioner to Sri Lanka.

Courage of Your Conviction

You must be prepared to defend who you are.

Rao says the number of women participating in work has increased since the time she started working as an IAS officer. "More participation comes with more education opportunities, family encouragement and the power of example."

When you have women who have done well as examples, when women have others to look up to, it plays an important role in shaping up a woman's career believes Rao.

Aware of The Ground Terrain

In order to size it up and strategize, one must know what their ground reality is. Rao believes the system has to also provide the opportunity and the space, more importantly, the encouragement to bring women forward in every field whether it is entrepreneurship, foreign services or science & technology.