By Mohana Nair, President, Ladies’ Wing of the IMC Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Entrepreneurship needs a different mindset. It is much easier to work for a boss rather than to be the boss yourself. Women have a much more difficult task leading an enterprise than men do.
Men are easily accepted as leaders, while women heading an organization, especially their own are looked at with skeptism and suspicion. It takes courage and strong conviction for a woman to take up the role of an entrepreneur.
Women’s entrepreneurship has been recognized during the last decade as an important untapped source of economic growth. I personally believe that it is very important for us to inspire, motivate and encourage women to participate more in entrepreneurial opportunities.
If a woman is successful in her entrepreneurial venture, she will not only create wealth for herself and her organization but raise the nation’s standard of living and the Indian mindset which sees a woman as a follower rather than a doer.
The Government too has realized that women should be supported in their urge to work and become financially independent, as they form 50% of the population and their earnings could lead to a big leap in the GDP.
Not only have women lower participation rates in entrepreneurship than men but they also generally choose to start and manage firms in different and less ROI based model industries than men tend to do.
Better qualitative information and quantitative data and statistics are required to profile women entrepreneurs (demographic information, barriers to start-up and growth). This would also assist in promoting awareness of the role of women entrepreneurs in the economy.
Socially too, a working woman is now accepted and respected in urban India. Rural India always had women working in the fields. In the workplace also many employers are appreciating women for their intrinsic worth without discrimination.
Women are to be found everywhere, even in professions like the police, armed forces and as pilots, all professions which were seen as male domains. There are now equal or more women than men in the legal profession, many more lady judges than in the past; yet there is a long way to go before we achieve equality in all ways.
Yet women’s entrepreneurship is still way behind entrepreneurship shown by men. Women are faced with specific obstacles (such as family responsibilities, lack of faith by both men and other women in their capabilities) that have to be overcome in order to give them access to the same opportunities as men.
It is heartening however to see how India has changed, more and more women are entering the work force and are fighting for their legitimate position in society as an equal. The feminist movements, the laws stemming from our Constitution which confer equal rights on women, the necessity felt for a dual income, higher educational levels, have all contributed to women storming the male bastion.
Women entrepreneur networks are major sources of knowledge about women’s entrepreneurship and they are increasingly recognized as a valuable tool for the development and promotion of women entrepreneurs. Policy makers must foster the networking of associations and encourage co-operation and partnerships among national and international networks and thus facilitate entrepreneurial endeavours by women.
Peer to peer platforms help women entrepreneurs realize the potential they harbour within themselves. Based on discussions, feedback and observations from women entrepreneurs, they draw confidence of the capability and ability that they possess.
It is important that women’s organisations help women to recognize their potential and to take up entrepreneurship in a big way, in all kinds of businesses and not just jewellery, textiles, baking, etc which are seen as a woman’s forte.
Men too should be taught to accept that women are equally intelligent and capable. In this manner hopefully the gaps will narrow and our daughters will grow up into a brave new world, where there is no gender discrimination whatsoever.
This column was first published in the April 2019 issue of our print magazine. To grab a copy, click here
The author Mohana Nair is a corporate lawyer specialising in Banking, Insurance, Company, Intellectual Property and IT laws. She sits on the Boards of Ugam Solutions, Stratbiz Consulting, among others. She additionally advises non-profit organisations like Awaaz Foundation, Gyan Prakash Foundation and Isha Foundation.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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The CSR Journal Team