Posts tagged ‘Indian women’

19/11/2014

‘Exceptionally Low’ Female Labor Participation Holding Back India’s Economy – India Real Time – WSJ

Women’s empowerment hasn’t featured prominently so far in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s program for economic revival. It probably should, according to the latest overview of the Indian economy by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The report, released Wednesday by the Paris-based club of rich nations, suggests that enlarging economic opportunities for women could be a new “growth engine” for India, accelerating GDP growth by around two percentage points each year. India has narrowed the gender gap in health and education, the report says. But Indian women still lag far behind men when it comes to participation in both the formal and informal economies.

Just a third of working-age women in India were employed or looking for a job in 2010, a lower share by some distance than in Brazil (around 65%), China (75%), Indonesia (55%) or South Africa (45%). The figure for Indian men was over 80%.

More strikingly, female labor participation in India has actually fallen over the last decade: According to Indian-government data, the working-age populations of both men and women increased by around 100 million between 2000 and 2012. But the number of women employed or seeking employment only grew by 7 million over that period, whereas the number of men in those categories expanded by 70 million. Just a quarter of the increase in the number of women outside the labor force was accounted for by more women staying in school.

Indian women who do work don’t have great jobs, the OECD report shows. More than a third are unpaid helpers, as opposed to just 11% of working men. Women are also overrepresented in low-productivity agriculture and traditional, small-scale manufacturing. Only 6% of employed women get formal benefits like pensions or maternity leave. There aren’t many female entrepreneurs. (The report notes, though, that there aren’t many entrepreneurs in India, period, relative to other countries at the same stage of development.)

Illiterate women are more likely to be in the labor force than better-educated women, though participation is higher among high-school graduates. The relationship between female participation and income is similar: The richer a woman’s household is, the less likely she is to work.

Those patterns suggest “exceptionally low” female labor participation isn’t fully explained by simple measures of worker productivity.

On a 2012 OECD index of social obstacles to gender equality, India scores poorly relative to other large developing countries. Families’ preference for sons is stronger. Violence against women is more common. Women’s access to credit, land and property is more restricted. Marriage and inheritance laws favor men more.

Other social norms matter, too. As men’s incomes have risen over the last decade, their wives may prefer housework to a low-paying job, the report suggests. One study cited by the report finds that a family’s social status is considered higher if the woman stays at home.

via ‘Exceptionally Low’ Female Labor Participation Holding Back India’s Economy – India Real Time – WSJ.

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25/07/2014

What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ

India’s census data consistently shows two things: the country’s inexorably expanding population and its deep preference for sons over daughters.

A new United Nations study takes a deep look at how parents keep choosing boys over girls, despite laws that seek to block the use of ultrasounds and other pre-natal tests to determine the sex of an unborn child.

India’ child sex ratio – the number of girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 — has deteriorated sharply over the past 20 years, dropping to 918 in 2011 from 945 in 1991.

India’s sex gap “demonstrates that the economic and social progress in the country has had minimum bearing on the status of women and daughters in our society,” said Lakshmi Puri, an Indian who is a U.N. assistant secretary general.

Here are five significant takeaways from the U.N. study, written by Mary E. John, a senior fellow at the New Delhi-based Centre for Women’s Development Studies.

Improvements in the Overall Sex Ratio are More Nuanced Than You Think

Since 1991, the number of women per 1,000 men has been rising, though it remains far below normal. In 1991, there were 927 women for every 1,000 men. In 2011, the year of the most recent census, that number had risen to 943. The U.N. study argues that much of the improvement isn’t because fewer girls are being born and surviving into adulthood. In India, in the past, women had a shorter life expectancy than men – unlike the situation in most of the rest of the world. That has changed. Indian women now outlive men, in part because of lifestyle changes and “diseases that take a greater toll on” men.

via What Happened to India’s Girls? A New U.N. Report On Sex Selection Offers Some Answers – India Real Time – WSJ.

20/11/2013

Indian women in business: has the glass ceiling been shattered? – The New Silk Road, Stephenson Harwood

From: The New Silk Road, Nov 13 to Jan 14; Stephenson Harwood

http://f.datasrvr.com/fr1/413/26346/NSRissue17-interactivePDF-v15.pdf

India is a country of acute contrasts; and perhaps nowhere is the divide more pronounced than in the status of women. In terms of the big milestones, the country has a reputation for leapfrogging others – Indira Gandhi became the world’s second ever female prime minister way back in 1966 (pipped to post by Sirimavo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka), and women have since served in multiple senior political roles.

They’ve also stormed ahead in the professions (notably medicine and law) and in the international corporate world. One might cite Indra Nooyi, who beat all comers to secure the top job at Pepsi-Co; ot her aptly named Padmasree Warrior, chief technology and strategy officer at Cisco Systems. Meanwhile, a generation of newly-empowered and highly-educated young women are going out to work in larger numbers than before.

Set against these achievements, however, is the increasingly troubling situation facing Indian women more broadly. A recent Reuters Trustlaw investigation – examining a wide variety of measures from male-to-female pay disparity, through female foeticide, to deaths in dowry disputes – ranked India  as the worst country in the G20 to be born female.

Assushma Kapoor, South Asia deputy director for UN Women sums up: “There are two Indias: one where we can see more equality and prosperity for women, but another where the vast majority of women are living with no choice, voice, or rights.”

Although more than two decades of economic liberalisation has opened up opportunities in progressive cities such as New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore, large parts of the country – particularly in the north – remain entrenched in feudalism. The upshot, according to The Economist, is that just 29 per cent of Indian women are currently in the workforce, compared with two-thirds of women in China.If deep-rooted changes in social attitudes are needed, who better to lead them than India’s companies? The willingness with which multinational companies (especially in the IT sector) have embraced the female graduates of India’s management schools is surely indicative of their quality. As well as Vanitha Narayan of IBM (profiled overleaf) the managing directors of both CapGemini India and Hewlett-Packard India are women. Female representation at the top of the banking profession is also much higher in India than many other countries.

The sectors in which women are currently thriving at senior levels – FMCG, retail, IT and retail banking – tend to be consumer-centric, says headhunter Ronesh Puri of Executive Access: reflecting the fact that household buying decisions are usually made by women and companies feel the need to ‘connect’. In more labour-intensive industries like mining, oil and gas, and aviation, women are still under-represented – as they are in the west – though that is beginning to change.

Indeed, demand for female directors at Indian companies across the board is growing at an estimated rate of about 10 per cent each year. That’s partly the result of new legislation mandating at least one board for certain classes of companies. But it’s also a response to the growing body of research suggesting a link between business growth and profitability, and gender diversity.Many women in corporate India might protest that there’s a long way to go. But the same is true in virtually every other developed nation. And one thing India is not short of is distinguished role models. Here we profile four inspirational women, who’ve made their mark across very different sectors.

Shubhalakshmi Panse

Chairman and managing director, Allahabad Bank

When Shubhalakshmi Panse’s became the first woman to lead India’s oldest bank last year, it marked the culmination of a near 40-year career at the financial coal-face. It almost never happened. Panse, 59, was pursuing a doctorate in embryology at Pune University when she stumbled across a recruitment advert from the state-owned Bank of Maharashtra. She took the qualifying exams “just for fun”. Having successfully climbed the professional ladder, Panse made the most of a sabbatical in the US in the early 1990s, completing a three-year MBA in twelve months flat before returning to India. The sizeable challenge she was hired to tackle at Allahabad Bank was to turn round the struggling institution in a year, ahead of her retirement next January. Panse admits “networking” isn’t her forte. She credits her success to her work ethic (“my commitment has always been 200 per cent”); and her parents. “We were raised as independent individuals. My mother would say ‘you can do it’.

Ishita Swarup

Founder, Orion Dialog and 99.labels.com

Ishita Swarup knew from an early age that she wanted to do “something of my own” rather than get stuck in “the cog in the wheel syndrome”. After completing her MBA, she joined Cadbury’s Indian brand management team, but stayed in the corporate cocoon just three years before starting the online phone marketing firm, Orion Dialog, in 1994 aged 27. The firm, which numbered Citibank among early clients, caught the rising tide of business process outsourcing. In 2004, Swarup exited in style: selling out to Aegis BPO (part of the Essar group). Still, she’s had much a choppier time with her second big venture, the ecommerce outfit 99.labels.com. Launched in 2009, the site was India’s first ‘flash sales’ shopping portal. But a proliferation of ‘me too’ competition and profitability concerns have dogged the firm and, in May, a big investor pulled out. Swarup hasn’t given up. She’s rejigging the business model and looking for new backers. “Seeing a venture take shape from idea to reality, and then taking it to a growth level, motivates me,” she says. “Making mistakes is part of that process.”

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

Founder, Biocon

India’s wealthiest self-made woman started Biocon aged 25 in 1978, out of the garage of a rented house with the bare minimum of capital because she could not get financial backing. The decision to strike out on her own – becoming India’s first biotech entrepreneur – was taken almost by default. She had hoped to get a job at Vijay Mallya’s United Breweries, but was shocked to hear that male colleagues wouldn’t accept her. “That’s when the hard fact hit me. There is a gender bias.” Biocon began life as an enzyme specialist, before moving whole sale into the lucrative bio-pharma sector in the late 1990s, ahead of the great ‘off patent’ bonanza. IN 2004, Mazumdar-Shaw too the company public, Now 60 and worth US$625 million, according to Forbes, she lives in an estate outside Bangalore. “You could be in California”, she said last year. “Then you step outside and see poverty. That’s not a nice feeling.” She has pledged to five away three-quarters of her wealth.

Vanitha Narayanan

Managing director, IBM India

In contrast, one woman who has thrived on corporate life is Vanitha Narayanan, an IBM ‘lifer’ who became responsible this year for all Big Blue’s operations in India and South Asia – one of the company’s fastest-growing regions. With 150,000 people on the payroll, IBM is the largest multinational employer in India. Naraythan, a graduate of the University of Madras, cheerfully admits that, apart from a brief stint in a department store, “IBM is my only job”. She joined the company’s US telecoms group as a trainee after taking an MBA at the University of Houston, and made her name working with just one client, the Southwestern Bell Telephone Company. “It helped me lay a foundation – you respect the industry of your client, and sometimes the client is your best teacher.” That certainly proved true in her case. She went on to become a global vice-president of IBM’s telecom solutions, and in 2006 moved to China to run the Asia Pacific Unit. At 54, Narayanan is modest about her achievements, preferring the word “influence” to power. “She’s no pushover,” says a colleague. “But she can build trust very easily”.

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