In India, the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, popularly known as the engine of growth in the country and incubators of entrepreneurship has emerged as the torchbearers of women empowerment on a global platform.
On the eve of International Women’s day in 2018, the Ministry of MSME launched Udyam Sakhi, a network for nurturing social entrepreneurship creating business models revolving around low-cost products and services to resolve social inequities.
The portal cater needs of around 8 million Indian women who have started or running their own businesses through its platform for entrepreneurship learning tools, incubation facility, training programs for fundraising, providing mentors, one-on-one investor meet, provide market survey facility and technical assistance.
To put it in nutshell, it can be easily inferred that the Indian Government has been incessantly involved in revolutionizing the role of women outside the four walls of their homes. Women, nowadays, take risks, trust their vision and settle for nothing less.
Women empowerment in ancient India transports to a terrain of mixed views. In ancient India, women enjoyed equal status with men and were trained in the art of warfare by choice. The story of Rani Abbakka Chowta is a classic example of women’s empowerment in the country. Women empowerment in India gathered much momentum after January 26, 1950, following the adoption of the Constitution of India that carries several clauses and sections that eliminate ambiguity over the status of women. When Oxford Dictionaries declared “Nari Shakti” as Hindi word of the year 2018. Evidently, we can estimate the influence women are having on the world during all these years.
Women- Harbingers of Change
Gone are the days when women would end up their entire life within the 4 walls of the house. Like their male counterparts, women nowadays are writing fresh stories of unprecedented success, with their wit and hard work. More and more women are expanding their entrepreneurial horizons and venturing into an unprecedented range of business areas.
The greater choices now available to women in the fields of employment have been the major driving force for their upheaval as bureaucrats, professionals, and executives. They have now begun to enter the fiercely competitive world of business – and economic independence.
The fact that such a large percentage of them had entered the non-traditional areas attests to female entrepreneurship being a fairly recent phenomenon boosted by programs and schemes of the Indian Govt aimed at reinstating women empowerment in the long run.
The Traditional female skills are being turned into a livelihood, by starting a home-based business encompassing textiles, catering, embroideries, boutiques, crafts, and many more. Look at the world around you that women are empowered is evidence by their prevailing presence in courts and public offices, corporate houses and parliament, and what not Name entrepreneurs and writers, scientists, and social activists, actors, and directors; they are everywhere
Thinking Ahead- connecting Skill to Industry
Ministry of MSME, which recently held its first Conclave on Empowering Women Entrepreneurs of marginalized Sections’ received colossal applications – has emerged as the premier institution responding to the phenomenon of female entrepreneurship. Aimed at awakening the country to issues of hidden disparities and discuss a range of subjects to highlight the evolving role of women entrepreneurship in India, the conclave witnessed multiple sessions wherein influencers from various walks of life came together to discuss and deliberate on key issues.
The conclave turned out to be a huge hit amongst SC/ST women entrepreneurs. With the gradual shift of mindset amongst the stakeholders in MSME, Ministry awarded path-breaking women entrepreneurs and outstanding women achievers in varied fields on the occasion of Int’l Women’s Day 2019. The move intends to celebrate women who are breaking the regressive restraints that society and circumstance have placed on them, and are choosing to be financially independent while continuing in their traditional roles as primary caregivers.
MSME- Transforming Homemaker to Entrepreneur
Women are the pillars of society and when women are empowered, the whole world is empowered Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) is empowering women entrepreneurs through its different schemes helping women spark their talent and build their own identity. 1.38 lakh projects have been set up by the women entrepreneurs under Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) Scheme since inception and up to 23.01.2019.
The projects set up by women entrepreneurs are about 30% of total projects set up under PMEGP. Under the scheme, women entrepreneurs are covered under Special Category and are entitled to 25% and 35% subsidies for the project set up in urban and rural areas respectively. For women beneficiaries, their own contribution is only 5% of the project cost while for the general category it is 10%. during 2016-17 and 2017-18, under the Khadi Programme of KVIC, women entrepreneurs have set up 30437 projects for which margin money of 85,305 lakh Rupees have been disbursed.
Not only MSME, but the Government of India has also taken various steps towards women empowerment and safety. Initiatives like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Stand Up India, Mission Indradhanush, Mudra Yojana Scheme, TREAD (Trade-Related Entrepreneurship Assistance and Development) Scheme, Mahila Udyam Nidhi Scheme, Annapurna Scheme, Stree Shakti Package for Women Entrepreneurs, Bhartiya Mahila Business Bank Loan, Dena Shakti Scheme, Udyogini Scheme, Cent Kalyani Scheme and many more have added to the welfare of the women population in India.
Many of the barriers to women’s empowerment and equity lie ingrained in cultural norms.
It is ironical that a country, which has recently acclaimed the status of the first Asian country to accomplish its Mars mission in the maiden attempt, is positioned at the 108th rank among 146 countries in World Economic Forum (WEF) gender gap index, same as 2017. India has the second-largest artificial intelligence (AI) workforce but one of the largest AI gender gaps, with only 22% of roles filled by women which is equally disheartening.
For Indian women, empowerment can be an uphill task: they need to strike an astute balance with customs and traditions. While the Indian Govt is incessantly working for the upliftment of women, we, too, need to become aware of their rights, schemes, and benefits that can help achieve overall empowerment. The illiterate and semi-literate women entrepreneurs from both rural and urban areas have availed benefits of certain schemes under the Indian Government to help start or run a company. The story of two women entrepreneurs- Priyashri Mani and Nishita Vasanth wrought their own enterprise in Pali hills in Kodaikanal district of Tamilnadu by availing loans under the Scheme of Indian Govt is an apt example of the steady but sure mindset shift among the stakeholders in the MSME and startup ecosystem. With logistics as the major challenge and the honey harvesting tribe based out of Pali Hills, the duo scaled up their operations by hiring more women and ended setting up ‘Hoopoe’- a honey harvesting startup. Bringing honey to your doorstep, the story gives an insight into the budding women entrepreneurship in the country with women donning several roles ranging from rainmakers to changemakers and social capitalists.
More Power, Less Fear
Swami Vivekananda, one of the greatest sons of India, quoted that, “There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved, It is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing.” Therefore, the inclusion of ‘Women Empowerment as one of the prime goals in the eight Millennium Development Goals underscores the relevance of this fact.
Countries around the world have taken the theme to their heart and kick-started a conversation about sexual assault at the beginning of the year and this lead to the #MeToo Movement. Surprisingly, this movement turned out to be a table talk throughout the year and sent accusers behind the bars for good reasons. Treading the path, in order to achieve the status of a developed country, India too needs to transform its colossal women force into an effective human resource and this is possible only through the empowerment of women.