Economic Empowerment Of Women: Still A Faraway Dream For India?
By: Suhela Khan, Country Programme Manager - WeEmpower Asia, UN Women
Based on your experience, what are some of the key skills required for managing large scale programmes for women's economic empowerment?
My experience in managing large scale programmes for women's economic empowerment has enabled me to appreciate that until and unless we build in conscious strategies of addressing structural constraints, our efforts would not have significant impact on women's life. From the management perspective, the skills sets should include sound knowledge of gender empowerment approaches, effective communication, stakeholders' engagements including empathy and teamwork.
What role do you think women play in empowering other women?
I strongly believe that behind every successful woman, there is a tribe of another women. It is most likely a woman who would be able to empathize with the challenge another woman faces at the personal or professional front. And therefore, women have a very critical role in supporting their community. By being role models or simply lending an empathetic ear they can make a huge difference in the life of fellow women.
What steps can be taken for bridging the gaps in women's empowerment?
A lifecycle approach is required that targets multidimensional and intersectional nature of challenges to women's empowerment and creates an enabling environment for women to realize their full potential. This means that conscious strategies are required for addressing gender-based discrimination that starts when girls are in womb and manifests in various forms throughout their lives. Engaging with men and the wider community is critical to address structural and patriarchal constraints. Policy and programming efforts should therefore take into consideration the realities of women's lives and should gear towards creating an ecosystem that facilitates equal access to opportunities and resources.
“Policy and programming efforts should take into consideration the realities of women's lives and should gear towards creating an ecosystem that facilitates equal access to opportunities and resources”
Explain the process of achieving proficient skills and mindset of helping women to grow in a male dominated society.
Women, despite their talents, tend to lowball their capacities, often lack confidence in their abilities to compete in STEM fields that are stereotypically believed as men's domains, more reluctant to share ideas in groups even when they have talent and belittle themselves despite their skills. What is required is to showcase more and more examples of women who have broken stereotypes and have pursued their interests. Women's access to networks also become very important to make meaningful connects for their personal and professional growth.
What are your thoughts about the developments in India compared to the world? Why is women's participation critical for businesses?
India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It has only to gain with women's equal economic participation. There is substantial evidence around a business case of gender equality. It means that advancing women's empowerment drives economic growth and supports business performance and resilience through innovation, cost savings, productivity and market growth. Business therefore should invest in efforts and interventions to promote gender equality and women's empowerment at their workplace, marketplace and community interventions.