people and magazine management

Women : Agents of Change


Published on   People and Management Magazine.


Women comprise almost 50 percent of the Indian population and they directly as well as indirectly contribute to the economic parameters of the nation. Generally it has been observed that females are more involved in the agrarian economy or small scale business activities as entrepreneurs, or engaged in household activities, but as time changes they are conquering new frontiers. The window of opportunities opened up by the liberalisation and globalisation which attracts the female workforce into service and industrial sectors like IT/ITES, banking and financial, apparel/accessories and food and beverages. The number of women working in the services sector in the country has seen a consistent rise over the last decade. This comes when there is an overall decrease of about 7 percent in the same period in India’s female labour workforce. The economy, meanwhile, has grown at an average rate of 8.3 percent.

Historically lower and upper middle class women were always working; earlier women mostly worked in the public sector but today rapid urbanisation and increased educational qualifications are leading the way to abundance of job opportunities. The fancy of being a middle class member with fixed income allows the women to start working so as to contribute stability in family income and thus add social status to the family. There is nothing in the way of women striking a proper balance between the conflicting demands and being able to discharge both personal and professional duties efficiently and effectively.

Moreover women feel more empowered when they have their own source of disposable income. This also lets them to take part in decision making processes. The ripple effect of this can be seen in many sectors. The more that women enter the workforce makes the government and corporates reciprocate with gender sensitive policies. The recent initiatives by the government of India to change the maternal benefit leaves to 26 week even for private sector is seen as a big policy change. The MNCs are leading the change with women friendly policies like flexi timings, maternity benefits, housing schemes etc. The change is visible too in the consumer market. The spending capacity of working women is shaping the ever growing e-commerce business. The fashion, entertainment and banking and financial industries are now becoming female bastions. Women are preferred in their fields due to their integrity and honesty, and that women are less prone to fraud and corruption. Women are found to be sincere, conscientious and diligent workers. Even in the matters of industrial relations, women possess the needed tact and patience and human approach, which ensure healthy staff relations.

According to a recent study by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)., India can increase its 2025 gross domestic product (GDP), estimated at $4.83 trillion, by between 16 percent and 60 percent simply by enabling women to participate in the economy at par with men. In India we can see that, women along with being homemakers have also become great achievers in the outside world. The names of Sushma Swaraj, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Chanda Kocchar, Chairperson, ICICI Bank; Shikha Sharma, Chairperson, Axis Bank; Kalpana Morarka, India Head, JP Morgan and Sudha Sharma, Chairperson, CBDT easily come to mind.

But as one swallow does not make a summer, the fact of some women occupying top positions does not make the development process broad-based, equitable and inclusive. Clearly, much more needs to be done. But this made a change in the perception about women and confidence among women. This will not benefit only women, but India as a whole as the former President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam, once said, “When women are empowered, society with stability gets assured”. Women have already walked the mile; all we need to do is look forward and keep going.