3rd October 2019
An article published by Mili Shrivastava of the World Economic Forum discusses how female entrepreneurship is, against all odds, growing in India.
As it stands, the proportion of Indian women working in paid jobs is worryingly low at just over 23%. On the other hand, over 78% of Indian men are employed in paid work. This gap may be explained by the various social and cultural obstacles Indian women face that prevent them entering employment. For one, deeply entrenched cultural expectations restrict women to domestic roles. This coupled with the effects of a prevailing social patriarchy in India means that women are more likely to remain at home, and any work they engage in is done so on an informal basis.
It is highly difficult for female entrepreneurship to develop in such an environment. Women are often perceived as irresponsible for choosing to dedicate their time to entrepreneurial activities instead of domestic ones. Nevertheless, research conducted by Shrivastava suggests that Indian women may be defying all odds and challenging the status quo in Indian society. Not only is their work having a positive impact on India’s major social problems, they are also inspiring other women to do the same.
Shrivastava spoke to Padmaja Narsipur, the founder of a digital marketing strategy firm that supports women who are re-joining the workforce after taking a break in their professional lives. Padmaja says, “Women re-starters are highly qualified and committed. I have been one myself. I have built a workplace where trust in employees, giving flexible work hours, work from home options, is built into the DNA and it is paying off”.
Even after being subjected to such cultural restrictions, Indian women are successfully developing their meaningful business ideas and are paving the way for the younger generations to follow. They are rewriting the rules for themselves, and there is evidence that the government and society are following suit.
Government initiatives such as “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter) demonstrate an intention and willingness to improve the lives and prospects of young girls. The development of the internet and social media has meant that more women can connect and learn from each other. It has also meant that they have more opportunities for entrepreneurialism through e-commerce platforms.
There is still much work to be done before India creates an environment that is conducive to supporting its young female entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, it is inspiring to know that there are women out there currently, leading the charge.