Women In Workforce
In a country that is dominated by a patriarchal society, participation of women in the workforce has always displayed an appalling picture.
In its India Development Report released in May 2017, the World Bank said the country had one of the lowest female participation in the workforce, ranking 120th among 131 countries. While overall job creation has been limited, most of the new ones have been grabbed by men given the social norms, the report said.
Lack of level playing field, social norms, unequal pay and absence of safe environment have resulted in the reduced participation of women in the workforce, despite having 42% women graduates.
Listing out the reasons for a decline in women participation in the workforce, Frederico Gil Sander, senior country economist, World Bank, said that while a larger number of younger women in India was opting to study in schools, many were dropping out of the workforce due to lack of job opportunities and others due to rising income levels.
“Concerns about women’s safety are strong and often genuine while flexibility, availability of childcare and adequate pay are important given social norms that require women to reconcile work with household duties. One reason why women participation in the workforce has come down is because a larger number of younger women are opting to stay in schools,” Sander said.
These numbers point to fact that the mentality towards hiring women is still biased against them and their potential is questioned even today.
Investing In Women To Fight Inequality
Goal 5.5 states, Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
Goal 5.a states, Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
This goal specifically enlists us as a country, as a government and as a society to give equal opportunities to women in the workforce and create a conducive environment for them to lend a hand towards the country’s development. The UN and International Labor Organisation suggests that India’s GDP could jump by 4.2 percent if more women were drafted into the workforce.
While the rate of women graduates is growing, the women are either staying back in school or migrating outside India to explore better opportunities. Higher presence of women in entrepreneurship is necessary to fight inequality, a problem that is creating a dent in our developmental efforts.
How to fight inequality was one of the hot topics in Davos at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting last month. The top one percent of the world increased their wealth by $762 billion while the bottom 50 percent saw no growth, increasing the divide between social classes. This kind of economic inequality can result in unfair political institutions, unfair control by a few wealthy over others and unfair workers’ laws.
The Forum concluded identifying three solutions to reducing income inequality: (1) investing in women; (2) investing in agriculture; and (3) reforming workplace laws.
Women In Social Entrepreneurship
Indian Government recognizes the importance of women entrepreneurs as a contributor to the country’s GDP and hence policies and schemes have been designed to promote women entrepreneurs.
The question that we need to ask is, what is being done to promote women social entrepreneurs?
We do not have an answer to this. Primarily, because social entrepreneurship as a sector or an ecosystem is still not officially recognized by the government. You may ask, why should they be recognized separately?
While conventional entrepreneurs work towards fueling the economic strength of the nation, social entrepreneurs can actively contributing towards realizing the socio-economic goals or SDGs by aligning their impact with them. Going further, the role of women social entrepreneurs in this purpose cannot be ignored.
Renowned social entrepreneurs like Ulrike Reinhardt of Janwar Castle, Priya Naik of Samhita, Anu Sridharan of NextDrop, Afshan Khan of Purple Impression have used the power of innovation coupled to fuel sustainable development for their target communities.
We know that the percentage of women graduates is rising to a healthy level but yet, where are these women going? Why do they opt to stay in school or go abroad to explore their entrepreneurial prowess?
Tena Pick, CEO of Sustainability Platform spoke to us on women entering the field of social entrepreneurship.
“Women are very very interested in the concept of social entrepreneurship. Unfortunately. just like with any other sector in the world, you have a lot of female entrepreneurs but you don’t have a lot of female entrepreneurs who get funding and to reach that higher scale.”
The gap lies in the fact that, women are not motivated to choose or even think of entrepreneurship as a career, leave aside social entrepreneurship. India has multiple developmental gaps of which sanitation and hygiene, maternal health, education and crimes against women are areas where the presence of women changemakers as the drivers of impact is necessary. Women are better poised to understand, empathize and be in a position to help other women. Case in point, the role of Pari in the recent movie Padman – a biopic on Padmashree Arunachalam Muruganantham.
Women social entrepreneurs in India show the same spark and promise as men in adopting innovative ideas that can impact lives of several thousands of people. If India has to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth as defined in the SDGs and truly emerge as an economic powerhouse then more women entrepreneurs especially social entrepreneurs are needed.
In the next article of this series, we will talk about why there is a need for women social entrepreneurs in India, in detail. Keep watching this space for more.
Cover Image: Impactpreneurs