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Empowering women – The role of “Entrepreneurship” - BD Foundation | Beyond Diversity

“When women participate in the economy, everyone benefits.” Hilary Clinton

The need for women to become financially stronger is growing greater with the times, and our world leaders are leaving no opportunity to awaken this notion in common minds. Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, founded and chaired by Wendy Diamond, intends to mobilize a global network of female business owners, entrepreneurs, and change-makers who support and empower this community of women entrepreneurs and their businesses. Along with its massive reach, it gained the support of over 144 countries and was described by Fortune Magazines as “a global movement to celebrate and support female founders and shed light on some of their challenges”

How ‘Women’s Empowerment’ benefits everyone

It is estimated that closing the gender gap in the workforce would add 28 trillion USD to the global GDP, and that’s only counting the monetary gains, not the human rights and other benefits. Empowering women to participate in growth opportunities means that they would expand their influence over economic resources and meaningful decisions that benefit themselves, their households, and their communities. It is also projected likely for a woman to dedicate a vast portion of her earning towards the enhancement of her family, which includes getting a better education for her children. This would all eventually lead to further economic stability and a decrease in poverty.

Women in India

In India, women comprise about 30 percent of corporate senior management positions, which is notably higher than the global average (24 percent). But in the overall workforce, we find that only 19.9% of the total labor force are women in India. The reasons can be cited as many women do place families over a career, however, there are several norms that exist which may prove restrictive in the participation of women, some of the stark ones being that of restrictive cultural norms, the gender wage gap, lack of safety policies and lack of flexible work hours. We also understand that not all women would come to the forefront but there are some who have had successful careers. However, when we look at the NSE (National Stock Exchange) listed companies we find that only 3.7% of the Managing Directors are women. The divide between women and men across top management positions is also stark where only 8.9% of women are represented there.

The Issue

Global reports state that due to conditions prevailing at the workplace, some natural and some due to lack of good policies, women have yet not been given the standing and prospect they deserve. The impact of COVID 19 this year has also been stark the exodus from the employment stage to the stage of no employment would be very stark in India.

Creating a sense of Purpose for women at the country level – Role of Entrepreneurship

It’s understood that more than 80% of women stay out of the labor force, but many of them have the intent to contribute financially to their family and society. The entire need for self-actualization resulting in following their passion. This is where the possibility of “Entrepreneurship” should be identified. I grew up in Gujarat and through my growing up years saw many women creating materials & products which either they or their family members sold. This created in them a lot of self-worth and financial freedom in those women. Many stark examples of successful women entrepreneurs are there:

  • Induben Khakhrawala – To support her family through the financial problems that they were faced with, Induben Jhaveri set up a khakhra shop in Ahmedabad about 45 years ago. She got her entrepreneurship self going, and from a humble beginning of selling only a few products, her company now sells hundreds of products globally.
  • Pabiben Rabari – she created an enterprise that empowers women artisans. They make bags, dhurries, files, quilts, cushion covers, and more. It employs a special craft form invented by Pabiben – Hari Jari – which is a machine application of ready-made elements. She belongs to a village, and still lives there, but that did not prevent her from living her dream of becoming a successful entrepreneur.
  • Navalben Chaudhary – who hails from the village of Nagana, defied all odds, to cause a mini-revolution in her district. She made a record by selling milk worth Rs 1.10 crore in 2020, earning a profit of Rs 3.50 lakh per month. In 2019, she sold Rs 87.95 lakh worth of milk. She now runs a dairy of 80 buffaloes and 45 cows.

Empowering the 80% Women

There are hundreds of such success stories across the country of successful women entrepreneurs. It’s an opportunity that we can showcase to our women across the country to help them jumpstart a revolution of generating more self-worth. Ideas would be aplenty but helping them understand how to start would be important. Therefore, I have a few suggestions to make –

  • Provision of Talent: Support to women in terms of training and guidance to harness their ideas into an impacting enterprise and scalable venture.
  • Provision of Right Culture: The prevalence of the right mentors, networks, and role models to develop the idea into a business venture.
  • Provision of Capital: Making available “seed money” for ideas that these women harbor. The frequency and the value of funding received by women-led businesses should be also looked into.
  • Provision of Market: Finding “potential markets” for the produce of these women to scale up.

Summary

I believe helping the 80% women find a cause to improve their real self-worth will help our country’s economy and society grow substantially. Small steps will possibly help India develop both the urban and rural economies. Women will thereby have the right to make and determine choices, they will have control over their lives both within and outside their home and have the unique ability to influence the direction of social change. The progress of the country can thereby truly be called inclusive.