Why Including Women In Economy Is A Game Changer
Changing times have blurred the lines of gender when it comes to breadwinners today. The change may be slow-paced and a long-time coming, women are now opening up to enterprising opportunities in large numbers. While we still have a long way until gender diversity reaches an equilibrium that will truly govern our economy in India, there is a goal determined by global leaders. International Monetary Chief, Christine Lagarde and Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg in a joint paper stated that raising women’s participation in the workforce can boost our country’s GDP by 27 percent.
Nevertheless, women are waking up to the startup ecosystem and one of the biggest drivers for them, especially, has been the digital space. At SheThePeople.TV’s Digital Women Awards 2019, India’s leading women entrepreneurs – Rashi Sanon, founder of Heads Up For Tails, Natasha Kumar, founder Vajor, Suchita Salwan, founder of LBB, Sukhleen Aneja of Reckitt Benkiser spoke about the various aspects of how adding more women into the workforce is the only way forward to achieve holistic growth.
“As somebody who has seen the consumer trends in the last 15 years, the biggest change has come from the Internet – it is the democratization of trends. It took a very long for the trend to percolate downward. The beauty of social media platforms is that it is instantaneous. In a span of a day, you know if something makes a wave”
Considering India has the largest demographic of young people and millennials, it is most significant to tap that energy. Salwan, whose venture speaks to the young generation about the on-going trends around various cities, speaks about how her audience has evolved in the last five years. “We have a great mix of genders as our audience at LBB, 45 percent of it is men and the rest are women and what we have seen over the years from the statistical point of view is that our female cohort of customers is much more open-minded. We have seen that women want to experiment and go out of their comfort zone to experience something new.”
She adds that the story of SMEs in India rests in the hands of women.
Natasha dives into the point that we need women from across the tier levels as customers and entrepreneurs to really diversify voices and the narrative around women helping the economy grow. She notes, “The way forward for the Indian economy is that we are supposed to look at female entrepreneurs from every different arena instead of just women running the larger companies. But there needs to be a lot of education that needs to come to play because women have the skill but they don’t know how to use it in the right manner. But the initiatives that Google’s Internet Saathi and others are doing, so there are lots of exciting things happening on the ground.”
Sukhleen, who is an expert on consumer trends, also touched upon how empowering women in tier two, tier three and tier four will be the next big thing to boost our economy, she says, “As somebody who has seen the consumer trends in the last 15 years, the biggest change has come from the Internet – it is the democratization of trends. It took a very long for the trend to percolate downward. The beauty of social media platforms is that it is instantaneous. In a span of a day, you know if something makes a wave, it makes a wave pan India across tier levels and that’s a massive change for us as marketers and also an exciting one.”
She stresses on India’s video content and calls it “unprecedented” because that has changed our economy in a very significant way. She shares how she had the opportunity to go in the interiors of Maharashtra where she witnessed the power of mobile internet which women in rural areas are using as a means to a better life.
“What we have seen over the years from the statistical point of view is that our female cohort of customers is much more open-minded. We have seen that women want to experiment and go out of their comfort zone to experience something new.”
Finally, Rashi Sanon, who owns India’s largest pet luxury brand, emphasises on how women make it when no one believes in them and how to make the right decision for your brand in order to grow it despite lucrative offers. She, for one, left a one million dollar cheque at the beginning of her investor bids just to keep exclusivity and yet made it to the top. “When I think back I realise conscious decision-making is most important because when we hire people, the talent pool is small sometimes and there are a lot of challenges that women bear in terms of home, children, in-laws as opposed to men. In those times, it needs a lot of conscious decision-making to be able to navigate through the issues together.
As far as women’s contribution is concerned, we need to make that effort to hire more women to involve them in the economy and hence have them commit to it.”
She adds that in times of economic slowdown, we need to support women and we cannot have it any other way.