New Delhi: The second “Thinking Social” roundtable for the year 2016-17 was organized under the aegis of Tata Social Enterprise Challenge (TSEC), by IIM Calcutta Innovation Park (IIMCIP) in association with the Tata group in Delhi. The theme of the roundtable was “Sustainable Community through Women Empowerment”.
The speakers for the day comprised of eminent entrepreneurs, investors, domain experts and policy makers who have rich experience in the development sector in India. The audience (a strong presence of 36 participants) comprised of industry leaders, academia, entrepreneurs and investors focused on women empowerment.
In the inaugural session, Dr. Subhrangshu Sanyal, CEO – IIM Calcutta Innovation Park introduced the theme and shared with the audience the objective of this roundtable under the umbrella of the Tata Social Enterprise Challenge 2016-17.
The panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Bhaskar Chakrabarti of IIM Calcutta. He gathered valuable insights from the roundtable on how more stress should be given on skill development for women and continuous assessment of various training programs needs to be done. He also threw light on how obstacles in the social system need to be done away with for the betterment of women.
Ujjwal Banerjee, Manager – Education, Tata Trusts, spoke about how women need to engage not only with literacy but they also need to deal with social forces that hinder them. He said that women in the villages are now aware of government schemes and programs, which can be used to their advantage. Tata Trusts, he said, has a three year program for women and works with children which is another aspect of their program.
Meenu Vadera, Founder, Sakha Consulting Wings Private Limited, said that empowerment of the women community should be taken up strongly as it is a root to the GDP growth of the country. In India, classification on the basis of caste still plays a dominant role and women are the worst sufferers of it. There are many social constraints which are preventing women from acquiring the skills to better themselves, and there must be long term programs in skilling women. If a woman gets employed, there is a significant change in the mindset of her children also, especially if she has a girl child.
Ravindra Joshi, Additional General Manager (Special Consumer Group), Tata Power, spoke about women being employed on behalf of Tata Power in the slums. He highlighted the fact that electricity losses in Delhi slum areas was 68% and with their intervention, it has come down to 18%. Also, payment collection efficiency has increased from 60% to 98.9%. He said that they are currently working on a “Winning the heart model” which is working on providing self-esteem to people. Women literacy centres are being formed in the slums and 40,000 ladies have been trained so far, and vocational training has been imparted to more than 12,000 people.
Gauri Singh, Founder & Director, The Maids’ Company, shared that almost 50% of the population in India is women, but unfortunately there are not too many opportunities for them to grow. Their target is the domestic workers at the bottom of the pyramid. Since there is no barrier for entry, women prefer this work. However, due to their obligations towards their family, it is difficult for them to do a 9 – 5 job. Hence, skilling these women is an issue as they don’t have the time. The market demand in this job has also changed as households expect that the maids would make pastas and soups for them and operate washing machines, dryers, iron, etc., and fulfilling such demands need special skills. She further added that social entrepreneurs need to keep in mind the scale of operations too.
The Q&A round witnessed good participation from the audience. There were many significant issues discussed and addressed by the audience and the panelists.
The roundtable ended with a valedictory address and vote of thanks from IIMCIP.
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