As India celebrates its Republic Day on January 26, we speculate on what it means to actually enjoy freedom and to be a woman entrepreneur in India today.
India is a great country, where the idea of “Unity in Diversity” is alive and kicking. It’s a land, where different people of numerous religions are found living together in peace, harmony and brotherhood.
Historically, India’s Republic Day is significant not only for the fact that it brought its people the Constitution or the power to represent India, but it is also the day, which made India primarily a secular and democratic nation.
Tracing back, the Indian Constitution came into effect on January 26, 1950. It was on this day, that Indians experienced true freedom from the British rule. This day rings back to the Lahore session of Congress held on December 31, 1929. The president of Congress at that time – Shri Jawaharlal Nehru made an announcement that coming 26th, India would celebrate its independence. That day was 26th of January 1930. But it did not happen, due to many circumstances, and India had to wait for another 17 years, before it declared total independence! To commemorate this day in history, the constituent assembly unanimously agreed to give its people the constitution on January 26, 1950 and the rest is history!
So , January 26, 1950 was the day, Indians actually tasted real freedom! Today, in free independent India, with all its diversity, ‘freedom’ is what is celebrated by all Indians.
Women entrepreneurs should feel totally free
On a right note, we can highlight the fact that woman entrepreneurs can on this day, feel totally free to pursue their heart’s desire – to set up or if they already have kicked off their start-ups, they can track the progress of their businesses and take it to greater heights.
So, what does it mean to be a woman entrepreneur in independent India today?
Women entrepreneurship is gaining importance in India in the wake of economic liberalization and globalization. The policy and institutional framework for developing entrepreneurial skills, providing vocation education and training has widened the horizon for economic empowerment of women. However, women constitute only one third of the economic enterprises.
Today, there exists a number of successful business women entrepreneurs – both in social and economic fields in India, and they are indeed performing well. The Government of India has also introduced National Skill Development Policy and National Skill Development Mission in 2009 in order to provide skill training, vocational education and entrepreneurship development to the emerging work force.
A woman entrepreneur can be defined as a confident, innovative and creative woman capable of achieving self economic independence individually or in collaboration, generating employment opportunities for others through initiating, establishing and running the enterprise by keeping pace with her personal life.
So, as India celebrates its 72nd year of Independence, we note that the role of women in our society has changed drastically in the past few decades, only for the better. Women are now occupying the corporate positions, previously regarded as masculine and are even outpacing their male counterparts in some areas. The gender stereotypes which were prevalent in the society decades ago are breaking slowly. But, there is still a long way to go.
Here are some of the many reasons why India needs more women entrepreneurs and how it can strengthen us economically, socially and culturally.
The influx of more women into the workforce has led to significant economic growth and productivity. While more women have sought and got employment in greater numbers, their participation as entrepreneurs is very less. Fewer women have become entrepreneurs, meaning their potential to contribute towards innovation, job creation, and economic growth has been untapped yet!
Women entrepreneurs have the unique tendency to build and maintain long-term relationships. They have more effective communicational, organizational and networking skills than their male counterparts. Overall, more women entrepreneurs account for improved economic growth and stability within a country.
Even after decades of efforts directed towards making women equal with men socially and economically, the gap between them remains large. But women entrepreneurs inspire other women to start businesses. This leads to more job creation for women which ultimately helps in reducing the gender gap in the workforce.
When women become successful in a field, the next generation of women is more likely to emulate their success. Narrowing the gender gap in employment will increase global income per person by as much as 20% by 2030.
The connection between women’s economic participation and growth, in particular, is compelling: a recent McKinsey Global Institute report found that minimizing the gender gap in labor force participation holds the potential to add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025.
In low GDP countries, entrepreneurship can provide a way out of poverty for women faced with few other opportunities.
Woman entrepreneurship can lead to a tremendous social change, making women financially empowered and independent. Widely-read stories of successful women will provide encouragement to attract more women to the field and show them the way.
In short, if we want a more prosperous and innovative economy, we can’t leave half of our population behind1
In the words of former President (late) Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, “Empowering women is a prerequisite for creating a good nation, when women are empowered, society with stability is assured. Empowerment of women is essential as their thoughts and their value systems lead to the development of a good family, good society and ultimately a good nation.”