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Women entrepreneurship, a key pillar for India at G20

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By Dr Sangita Reddy and Anna Roy

Promoting women’s entrepreneurship is among India’s most important growth and equality priorities. It is a powerful vehicle that can speed up India’s journey of becoming a $5-trillion economy. Moreover, it is one of the most significant factors that will help raise household incomes, alleviate poverty, and help us achieve the 2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG-5 on gender equality.

India’s promotion of nari shakti is reflected in various government initiatives. The National Rural Livelihood Mission supports rural women’s entrepreneurship, with over 80 million women participating in 7.5 million self-help groups. The Mudra scheme enables access to finance and the GeM portal reserves 3% of all government procurement for women entrepreneurs.

Research by Niti Aayog indicates that women’s entrepreneurship needs support to make them sustainable and autonomous and bring them into the formal sector. The employment-generating capacities of these enterprises are well-documented and create collateral gains for the society and economy.

Under its G20 presidency, India has identified eight priority areas, including inter alia women-led development and public digital infrastructure. In addition, the G20 Alliance for the Empowerment and Progression of Women’s Economic Representation (G20 EMPOWER), led by the ministry of women and child development, aims to shift the narrative from women’s development to women-led development. Women entrepreneurs are at the heart of this shift, leading G20 EMPOWER.

We must transform challenges into opportunities and accelerate the shift towards greater inclusion of women in the workforce and women-led entrepreneurship. As SDGs demonstrate, adopting a gender lens and creating a culture to provide more opportunities to women requires collaborative and concerted action within our country and globally.

Digitalisation is a powerful tool that can help strengthen women’s economic participation. In addition, there are several sectors where remote working can be a permanent feature and offer the opportunity to employ women workforce.

G20 Empower platform’s three priority areas are to convert these dialogues to action through the following approaches.

One, focus on women’s entrepreneurship: Increase women’s access to skilling, capacity building, support infrastructure, and finances to promote women-led and women-owned businesses. Two, create a partnership for promoting women’s leadership aimed at increasing their public representation, access to public amenities, and enhancing participation in the labour force in public and private sectors. Three, work towards education that facilitates women’s representation in decision-making roles.

The Women Entrepreneurship Platform (WEP) is a key conduit to bridge the knowledge gap: As Indian women and girls make rapid strides and transition from the education system into the world of work, India is creating a strong entrepreneurship pathway for an additional 55 million women who could enter the workforce by 2030.

Announced at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2017, the ideation and incubation of WEP happened at Niti Aayog. Today, it is a shining example of a robust public-private partnership, providing multisectoral support to women entrepreneurs. It is building the pipeline of women entrepreneurs through awareness, training, skilling, access to finance and marketing needs. WEP has also emerged as a thought leader by producing data that help better understand women’s entrepreneurship needs with a sharp focus on leadership and mental health. Also planned is an emphasis on technology, lowering barriers to allow women to avail multiple efficiencies without mandating a traditional brick-and-mortar approach to optimising growth.

In this year of India’s G20 presidency, the world will witness the best collaboration between institutions, countries, initiatives, and people. It will showcase India’s nari shakti, all of whom will emerge as pioneers of prosperous societies and economies.

Sangita Reddy is joint MD, Apollo Hospitals, past president of FICCI, chair of EMPOWER20 and co-chair of the Steering Committee of WEP. Anna Roy is senior adviser, Niti Aayog and mission director, WEP

The views expressed are personal.


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