A group of women working and making clothes | Photo credit: iStock Images
Innovative messages to educate the masses have often been used by campaigns aimed at different end goals in all geographies and sectors. Globally recognized campaigns such as Pulse Polio for childhood polio immunization, Hum Do Hamaare Do for population control, Beti Bachao and Mid-Day Meals for poverty and malnutrition reduction, have proven to be successful. a key tool for achieving development programs and changes in social behavior.
Education focused on sensitizing women and vulnerable populations at the periphery of the social hierarchy had a positive impact and served to change attitudes. In India, awareness campaigns were carried out in schools, village communities and local organizations, which enabled 65.4% of women, 66% of Dalits and 55% of people with disabilities to attend school and thus to have access to participation in the country’s economy. . The country has made progress in creating an environment where women can thrive through access to education and improved socio-economic traditions. Government prioritization on these issues through the introduction of progressive legislation and awareness programs such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Udyogini, Annapurna and Ujjwala Yojana, as well as policies such as the new maternity bill , Poshan Abhiyan, etc., reinforced the discourse around the need for education as a facilitator of the socio-economic independence of women.
However, even today, the majority of Indian women’s autonomy in decision-making continues to be limited to their household and the performance of domestic tasks. Very often they bear the double burden of having to manage household / household chores while earning for the family and / or running a business. This limitation on independence and mobility has had a direct impact on the overall progress and evolution of the Indian female population, and this is reflected in the historically low female labor force participation rate, namely 22 , 3% in 2021.
According to a landscape study on female entrepreneurship conducted in 13 states by the EdelGive Foundation as part of its UdyamStre campaign, it was found that only 11% of women are aware of government programs and their benefits, which hinders their chances of having a better life. Empowering women to participate equally in the global economy could add $ 28 trillion to GDP growth by 2025, from current GDP of 18%, from a global average of 37%, with only 14% of women opting for entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurship – A lucrative tool
Assuming that economic empowerment is imperative for women to achieve overall socio-cultural progress and independence, entrepreneurship helps women invest in their own development, achieve self-sufficiency and contribute to the growth of the economy. . Research shows that entrepreneurship not only benefited women financially and materially, but also enabled their overall well-being, which resulted in higher self-esteem. Previously, the role of female entrepreneurship was limited to only looms, crafts and small industries, but today their horizons have broadened to different industries including hospitality, health and welfare. -being, IT, banking and education to name a few.
Entrepreneurial activities have functioned as a way for several women to support their household which can no longer be managed by a single income. When we see women entrepreneurs; whether they are vegetable vendors, kirana store owners, flower makers, clothing retailers, home chefs, etc., we see them contributing to the economy. However, their participation is not recorded due to the “informal” nature of the microenterprises they run, and the wage gap further exacerbates restrictions on economic mobility. These women entrepreneurs are unaware of changing market trends or the competitiveness required to increase their profit margins and incomes.
To bridge this gap, the Indian government has tried to formalize women micro-entrepreneurs and help them develop. Programs such as Stand-Up India, MUDRA Yojana, and other financial programs that provide women with loans at low interest rates have been introduced. In addition, the programs also ensured the provision of mentoring, skills and capacity building to help women entrepreneurs learn from each other, create a sense of community and network to expand their horizons and businesses. . In this context, the Women Entrepreneurship Platform launched by NITI Aayog is a unique portal of information on entrepreneurship, which helps women to become empowered.
In addition, self-help groups (SHGs) have proven to be essential in determining the success of women entrepreneurs. Since the early 1990s, self-help groups have provided unsecured loans to women and created a sense of belonging to entrepreneurs, allowing them to thrive and gain self-confidence. Through self-help groups, women entrepreneurs not only received financial support, but also developed skills that empowered and encouraged them.
Stakeholders from businesses, social enterprises, education and skills development institutes, NGOs and financial organizations work in tandem with government to advocate for a strong ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. Campaigns like UdyamStree, Google’s Women Will and Facebook’s Pragati, as well as programs funded by the United Nations, have harnessed the enormous potential of multi-stakeholder partnerships and emphasized collaborations to boost women’s entrepreneurship. Since education plays a crucial role in the general development and sensitization of communities, increasing awareness of entrepreneurship among school-aged girls and presenting entrepreneurship as a legitimate avenue for their future has the potential to make a huge difference. With increased support, skills development and mentorship, they have the potential to realize the country’s vision of becoming a $ 5,000 billion economy by 2025 while ensuring resilience, empowerment and #aatmanirbharta for create a fair India for all.
Diya Kumari is a guest contributor. The opinions expressed are personal.