Lower participation by women is impacting the economic growth of India.
As rightly said by Michelle Obama “No country can ever truly flourish if it stifles the potential of its women and deprives itself of the contributions of half of its citizens.”
Women constitute almost half the population in India. However, their share in labor force participation is less than a third, and even lower in entrepreneurship. Most of these women-owned businesses are largely unorganized and restricted to the agricultural sector in rural India with limited growth opportunities. India’s women as economic resources, therefore, remain largely untapped.
While women in India are ambitious, it has been challenging for them to contribute significantly to the economy owing to several structural and societal barriers existing in our country - societal terms, unconscious biases, gender pay gap, unfavorable working conditions and a lack of financial support.
The economic case for promoting women entrepreneurs in India is unquestioned. As suggested by a recent study, measures to close the gender gap could lead to approximately 6.8% increase in GDP. An economy which has a better gender mix of entrepreneurs may also see a surge in creativity, innovation and technological advancement.
India has come a long way in increasing women’s participation in education and the economy as a whole. Over the past decade, women’s gross enrolment ratio in higher education has increased. And while women’s participation in the workforce continues to be low, one can notice an increasing number of women entrepreneurs creating a mark for themselves in the country and across the world.
Various women entrepreneurs are at the helm at some of India’s largest business corporations across different sectors. This transition, albeit slow, has been supported by government policies and schemes to promote women entrepreneurship in India by building skills and generate employment. Corporates in India are also making efforts to boost their gender diversity and are promoting women entrepreneurship programs through their CSR initiatives, supported in their stride by NGOs, self-help bodies and industrial organizations.
However, the country needs to cover more ground for women to break conventional barriers and rise in the currently male-dominated entrepreneurial ecosystem. While the cause is supported by the government, corporates, successful women entrepreneurs, financial institutions and NGOs, there is still a lot to be done. What we need is to create a close-blended network of these institutions and bodies to work together to create a nurturing ecosystem that promotes and motivates women entrepreneurs and provide them with the necessary resources, training and mentoring to leap forward.
At EY, we are committed to playing a differentiating role in promoting women entrepreneurship and addressing the wider global challenge of gender disparity. We endeavour to empower women and promote women entrepreneurs through programs ꟷWomen. Fast forward™. and Entrepreneurial Winning Women™.
Join the conversation #SheBelongs. Let’s progress #WomenFastForward.