International Women’s Day: Celebrating the entrepreneurial spirit of women

From the first and second waves of feminism in the 1900s to the contemporary movement for women empowerment, women have constantly strived to find a footing and place for themselves in society.

By Tanya Singh (Women Entrepreneur),

Women’s entrepreneurship is increasingly important for creating new jobs and contributing to the social and economic growth of their societies, yet the interplay and shades of women’s entrepreneurship and culture are currently understudied. From the first and second waves of feminism in the 1900s to the contemporary movement for women empowerment, women have constantly strived to find a footing and place for themselves in society. Through progressive evolutions in societal outlook, women today at large are not only educating and employing themselves but also finding themselves in positions where they can provide employment to others as well. Entrepreneurship among women not only bolsters the economy through increased job creation but also paves the way for a paradigm shift in social and personal outcomes for women. However, women own only a little over 20% of all micro and small businesses, as compared to men owning about 80% of businesses.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), 231 million women launched or operated businesses in the 59 economies around the world that were studied in the latest 2019 report on women’s entrepreneurship. Many organizations and governmental institutions (ILO 2020; UN Women 2020) have recognised the importance of women in the process of economic development, individual health, and societal advancement. Several studies not only point out that women are better leaders than men but also prove that the organisations led by women record more profitable results than the ones headed by their male counterparts.

Yet, there exists a biasness in the overall underrepresentation of women in the corporate world. In fact, only 29% of senior management roles are held by women.

Why Think Women?

Women’s social and economic empowerment is critical for gender equality and achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Women make up one half of the world’s human capital and yet continue to be denied control and access to resources and decision making. Factors like gender inequality, unequal distribution of assets and power within family, exisiting stereotypes etc. tend to contribute to the cause and consequence of multiple forms of discrimination thus leading to a negative impact on development outcomes. Empowering women and leveraging their talent and leadership fully in the global economy, politics and society therefore, emerges as the fundamental element of prospering in an ever more competitive world.

The #MeToo movement, gender pay and growing pressure from society have driven gender equality up the business agenda. In boardrooms around the world, business leaders are tweaking into the reality of the business case around inclusive practices making not only business sense, but also being the right thing to do. Everyone benefits from a more gender-equal world. Women leads to better diversity and inclusion of thought and the gains – economic and social both. According The McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) report, COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the Regressive Effects, published in July 2020, urges everyone to accelerate the push for better gender equality and economic growth which could add nearly $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.

Pandemic Impact on Women

OECD Study, 2020 highlights how existing gender inequality means the challenges of the pandemic are affecting men and women differently.

With schools and nurseries partially open, it is women who are taking on most of the unpaid care work, reducing their hours or giving up paid work, turning the clock back on gender equality.
Many women are on the frontline, delivering essential services, usually the lowest paid or in insecure work.
It’s women who are also more likely to care for older or disabled relatives and neighbours.
A ‘double-double shift’ of at least 20 hours per week of additional work for women at home and is potentially exacerbating existing gender gaps.

Way Forward – Will you choose to Challenge?

This year theme is Choose to Challenge. A word Challenge is itself an alert word. Independently we’re all accountable for our own ideas and measures. We can choose to challenge and call out gender bias or inequality, gender pay gap, less education to girls etc. and collectively we can choose to pursue and celebrate women achievements and help to create an inclusive world. With so much untapped potential yet to be explored, we believe that the remarkable achievements of female entrepreneurs in the country would inspire many more to embark on their own journey to success!

From Challenge comes Change, so let’s all choose to challenge”.

(The author is Director, IPE Global (international development consulting firm). Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the Financial Express

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