Sofia Ashraf: ”We’re taught to ‘accessorise’ women and ‘equip’ men’

Pint-sized rapper Sofia Ashraf first burst onto the scene with a hard-hitting song that she describes as “an undisguised jab at Unilever for its failure to clean up mercury contamination or compensate workers affected by its thermometer factory in Kodaikanal.” So if you’re looking for someone who bats her eye lashes and defers to authority, you’ve probably got the wrong girl. 

In a recent round table discussion with other boss ladies from the indie music scene, Ashraf told an anecdote from her childhood that could easily be the story of any Indian girl. Ashraf describes how her parents’ priorities in terms of providing for their daughter differed sharply from her own plans for her future. 

“From a very young age, we’re taught to “accessorise” women and “equip” men”, she said, adding, “If my parents had a son, they would have saved up for his education. They saved up for jewellery for me. When I was 15, they were trying to drag me to a jewellery store.”

Having that rare self-awareness as a teenager to realise that a gold necklace wouldn’t help her chase her dreams, Ashraf told her parents, “Save up, but don’t buy me a gold chain, buy me a laptop”.

As she now recalls, “That laptop is what equipped me.”

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