The status of women in the Indian society has undergone a drastic change in the past few decades. From being a mere housewife to working as a dynamic multitasking individual, women in India have been able to successfully carve out a niche for themselves and leave behind a mark in various spheres of life, including in professions that are male-dominated.
Women are now playing a crucial role in the growth of the economy and have made a substantial impact and achieved success across all sectors. However, Indian women in manufacturing account for only 20% of the total workforce which is relatively less compared to other countries, like China. For more women to be a part of the workforce, it is essential to promote skill development as this enhances productivity and efficiency, increasing employment opportunities and resulting in increased income.
There has been a constant increase in the percentage of women entrepreneurs in India. However, there exists a dire need of more women participation in the country. Female talent still remains one of the most underutilized resources in the country. India ranks 87 out of 144 countries on the Global Gender Index Gap, as per the report which compares the data across four parameters: Health, education, political empowerment, and economic participation and parity.
Though the women participation is increasing in every sector, the economy is losing money due to gender parity. A study conducted by McKinsey stated that India could increase its GDP by 16% to 60% just by enabling women to participate in the economy on the same footing as men. We cannot have men-only factories while an ambitious ‘Make In India’ programme gets going. It is important to remember that manufacturing, in which China and Taiwan have made a mark, has an active participation by women.
Under all these circumstances, there are women in India who have made a mark and continue to be world’s most powerful women entrepreneurs in various sectors.
Pharmaceutical and Healthcare:
The pharmaceutical and healthcare sector has seen enterprising women leaders. Swati Piramal, a pioneer in pharmaceutical empire, campaigned for new drug research and highlighted the importance of scientific innovation.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, another exemplary woman leader who founded Biocon, the country’s leading biotechnology enterprise has immensely contributed to research, innovation and affordable health care. She has been also conferred upon with the ‘2014 Othmer Gold Medal’ and the coveted ‘2014 Global Economy Prize’ for business by German based Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
There are multiple spheres where women have achieved success at the CXO level. Vinita Bali, former MD of Britannia Industries quadrupled the company’s revenue to USD 989 million in financial year in 2013-14 from USD 248 million in 2005-06. She is the only Indian who is a part of the United Nations committee that was set up to lead the ‘Scaling Up Nutrition’ across the globe. Another name which is counted among India’s most inspiring women is Indira Nooyi, who has ensured a steady revenue growth ever since she was appointed the chairperson and CEO, PepsiCo, the second largest food and beverage business in the world.
Women hold the reins of some of the largest Indian banks and financial services companies. The biggest example is that of the chairperson of State Bank of India, Arundhati Bhattacharya, who is the first person to hold this position. She was named among the 50 most powerful women, a list compiled by Fortune. Besides her, are the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of ICICI Bank, Chandna Kochar, and Managing Director and CEO of Axis Bank, Shikha Sharma, both of whom have played a significant role in the development and progress of the retail banking sector in India.
Another achievement in this industry was the establishment of an all-women’s bank, Bhartiya Mahila Bank Ltd in August 2013. A pan India bank, BMB has over 100 branches across the country. The bank focuses on providing monetary assistance to economically neglected, discriminated, rural and urban women.
Capacity Building Movement Undertaken to Build Skilled Workforce:
It has been noted that out of 4,500 startups, only one in 10 were founded by women. If we include women in the economic process, the GDP can increase upto 60%. If more women are encouraged to become entrepreneurs, the economy of the country would change drastically.
Digital India aims to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. The first Women Village level Entrepreneur Conference was held in March 2015, a step in the positive direction.
Startup and Stand up India:
Both startup and stand up India initiatives empower women entrepreneurs and provide financial assistance to those who are setting up their businesses. The programmes also aid those who have already established their business but fall under the startup category. Through these schemes, the government aims to turn women from job-seekers to job-creators.
“Entrepreneurs” or ladies who are doing phenomenal odd jobs from the domains of their homes, are the latest to attract attention in the world of business in India. From making and selling eatables, to opening small garment boutiques, the Indian women are not shying from making that extra contribution to their economic well-being.
The Road Ahead:
With the advent of technology and digitization, there is a revolution in the way women are doing business. Some of them are already successful entrepreneurs and many more are joining the ‘young entrepreneur group.’ To make ‘Make in India’ a success, women participation should be encouraged and promoted as key drivers.