As chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian says, the elephant in the room in relation to women issues is our cultural norms and patriarchy.
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The mindset has to change. What I find most worrying is that we still feel a woman’s inclusion in formal economy is an option and not a necessity. It isn’t about money alone, but a whole lot of dynamics at play — self-reliance allows a woman to own her life and be responsible for it. Yet we continue to stress on man being the primary breadwinner and groom women to play second fiddle. As chief economic advisor Arvind Subramanian says, the elephant in the room in relation to women issues is our cultural norms and patriarchy.
Teach them young
The concept of right to work must be included as part of life skills education to get women to take charge of their lives, play a greater role in decision-making, fight back domestic violence, and contribute efficiently to the country’s economic growth. Currently, it’s a dismal scenario with a McKinsey study putting Indian women’s contribution to national GDP at 17%, which is less than half the global average of 37%. Inculcating right thinking from an impressionable age can lead to desired results and help one move on in life following unfortunate incidents.
Change begins at home
Imagine a scenario without domestic help! Life would come to a standstill given our dependence on them. Yet we continue to neglect this significant workforce, mostly comprising women, in the absence of effective rules to safeguard their rights and dignity. While many of us may already be contributing individually to uplift their lot, we must push for changes at societal level with measures such as adequate pay, financial security, leave, medical reimbursement, bonuses, and notice period to accord them the respect they deserve.
This age of social selling is a boon for homepreneurs. I have met women who’ve given up high-paying coveted professions to follow their passions and run businesses from home. That is definitely empowering. But there are thousands of others who are queens of opulent cakes, custom jewellery, homemade spices, unique paintings, home decor, and authentic weaving in every corner of our country but without access to technology and customers. E-commerce enterprises can play a major in mainstreaming homepreneurs by giving them a platform to sell their products along with access to experts in areas such as IT, content, marketing, logistics, and customer support.
Talent recognition & retention
A man is preferred for a sales job in companies that are unable to provide transport or security; a woman is denied a raise because her husband earns; the position offered to her is lower than what she deserves — these are a few chunks in the huge stumbling block on a woman’s employment way. This also explains why men have more jobs even as Census figures shows 116% increase in women graduates compared with 65% for men. The plot will be different when more companies start rating merit over gender and take considerate steps to allow women reach their full potential alongside fulfilling family aspirations.
For a society to be truly egalitarian, women must come under the ambit of formal economy that offers equal opportunities and protects their rights. And for things to move in the right direction, concerted efforts are required from all sections of society and at all levels. It starts with you and me.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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