Three Hacks To Ensure That Women Leadership Can Grow In India
Swami Vivekananda has rightfully said, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved.” When I sat down to write this article, I first thought of my cultural ancestors: women whose lives shine through the avalanche of male-oriented history, who not only overcame trials in their lifetime but also the challenge of being remembered centuries later. Women live in the world with assertiveness, verve and grace to which I can only aspire. Women’s intellectual contributions to our history is incomparable, women who inspire me to think critically and persist asking questions till I haven’t got the answer I am looking for.
For me, women empowerment and leadership begin at home and at places of work.
Women are the engines of an economy, the catalysts that bring about change. It’s hard to develop an inclusive and sustainable way of living when the effort being put in by half of the world’s population is being ignored blindly. For instance, in India alone, the economic contribution of women is less than half the global average and compares unfavourably to 40 percent in China. So here are some hacks that we can use to ensure we have more women in leadership roles.
1) Recognising the unpaid labour women put in: Whether paid or unpaid labour, a woman will attain gender equality and feel powerful only when her work is recognised and valued. Where women’s work participation rates are relatively low, say in tier two cities of any nation, is it safe to say that the society isn’t trying to offer women opportunities to engage in productive work ?
Economists around the world have argued – failing to account for unpaid labour — taking care of the household, children, elderly, cooking, cleaning — implies that this labour has no value. Measuring how much time is being spent on unpaid work is the first step to creating a social infrastructure that will promote shared responsibility within families and free up women to be full and equal citizens wherever they may live thus also adding tremendously to the economy. Increased availability of wage work also enhances women’s control over household decision-making.
2) Challenge Stereotypes: Assertive, confident and dominant are just some of the characteristics associated with leadership, yet when we think of employees at work that have those traits, we generally think of men. The reason is years of hardwiring from a biological and anthropological history of women playing the role of nurturing caregiver. Gender stereotypes are hard to break, and we are all prone to engaging in stereotyping. It’s important to study our biases and quantify inequality so that we can understand how to effect change. Public policy is an important part of increasing gender equality in the workplace and at home. As a society, we need to continue to encourage people to go beyond stereotypes and recognise the contributions that each individual, male or female, can make to the workplace and to relationships at home.
3) A shift in Priorities: Women themselves have to shift their mindsets and prioritise their own needs, rather than just be completely altruistic. Gender never comes in the way of action. Right intent leads to the right reaction. This not only leads women to gain more influence but maintain more energy, avoid burning out, and ultimately being able to help more.
Having more women leaders means women’s ability to participate equally in existing markets; their access to and control over productive resources, access to decent work, control over their own time, lives and bodies; and increased voice, agency and meaningful participation in economic decision-making at all levels from the household to international institutions.
A girl with a mission transforms into a woman with a vision!
Picture Credit- Monster.ca
Dr Somdutta Singh is a serial entrepreneur and the author of “Decoding Digital”. The views expressed are the author’s own.