Where are the women? We have often asked that question and wondered about the reasons behind this. This was the subject of the panel that kicked off the Women Writers’ Fest by SheThePeople.TV and Vedica Scholars in New Delhi.
“We Indian women are 8% of the world population. You cannot change the GDP unless you do something about this per cent,” echoed Poonam Barua, Founder of Forum for Women In Leadership. “In terms of the world population, women are only 5% in leadership? That’s a twist,” said Poonam, also the author of ‘Leadership by Proxy’, on realities of women in the corporate field.
Poonam, who caught up with 6,000 women during the research for her book, said, “It’s not because we haven’t got voices, but somehow men are not hearing it.”
Milee Ashwarya, Editor-in-Chief (Commercial and Business) of Penguin Random House India, has a different view. “When I look around in my team, 90% of them are women and this makes me happy. But when I move towards other departments like sales, finance etc. in my own firm, the numbers change and women start diminishing and this happens across the board.”
She shared her impression of the missing women. “The answer is at the grassroots level, women drop out in early age and that’s an opportunity lost. Second, once women get married, either they choose not to work or their families do not allow them to work. They are highly qualified but they are not working. Third stage is when women start families, they opt out of the workforce.”
But what can be done for women to bring them back to the workforce. Milee says the answer that it lies in the support system.
Sonu Bhasin, who is the founder of FAB (Families and Business), talks about the women in family business and in her view, women are for long firmly kept away from family business. “Traditionally in family business, the patriarchs have kept their women away from their quart business. Women are told firmly to do anything they want to but not in family business.”
And this is what the case is with family business.
For Shaili Chopra, who is also the founder of SheThePeople.TV and Golfing Indian, she thinks women in entrepreneurship is an idea that could be empowering for all. It’s opens up new opportunities despite constraints. “Entrepreneurship today has given a brand new lease of opportunities to women.”
She talks about what entrepreneurship has given to women to want to opt for it and that is the comfort of working from home if they want to. “When I started off with entrepreneurship, both motherhood and my company happened at the same time. I was warned that I was jumping from frying pan to the fire. I am easy with struggles and the success that came with it.”
Now you know why women are missing, how they can get back in the grind and how they can start off.