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A Sustainable Model for Women’s Leadership

A Sustainable Model for Women’s Leadership Introduction

  • A transformative generation of 900 million adolescent girls and young women across the world are poised to shape the future of work and growth.
  • Equipping these young women with right resources and opportunities to nurture the 21st century skills, can potentially make them successful leaders, change-makers, entrepreneurs, and innovators in history.
  • Considering the socio-economic barriers faced by adolescent girls in early years of their life, exposure to education systems, new age skill sets, critical thinking, and leadership qualities must begin early.

Situation in India

  • Having the largest generations of girls and young women, India has undertaken wide-ranging initiatives across the critical domains of education, health, digital and financial inclusion, leadership building.
  • This move will help the country in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 5, which envisions the world to be a more gender equal place by 2030.
  • Gender dividend can be reaped by creating conditions for female leadership to flourish, inclusion of women at all levels of society and equal participation in decision-making process.

Bridging the Gender Gap in Leadership

  • Digital technology in education: Accessibility gap in education can be bridged through EdTech, employing hybrid learning models that can provide girls access to schooling in areas where it is difficult for them to access physical schools.
    • Customizing the technology to adapt to the language, cultural nuances, and Internet accessibility of individual communities can provide girls equal access to knowledge through digital inclusion.
  • Greater exposure for women: About 43% of Indian STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates are women. However, all of them are not represented in the workforce and tech leadership.
    • Gender norms dictate men as leaders of STEM, finance, and entrepreneurial fields, while women are disproportionately allocated domestic and care responsibilities.
    • Incorporating grade-appropriate STEM, financial education, and entrepreneurship syllabi into the educational curriculum can provide exposure to women for their future endeavour in the field of STEM.
  • Autonomy in decision-making: Women must be empowered to make decisions about their bodies, including their sexuality. They must be freed from all forms of violence and harassment.
    • This will help young women to chart the trajectory of their personal and professional lives.
  • Promoting sports culture: Sports has the potential in promoting leadership, self-sufficiency, and teamwork. Including adolescent girls and young women in sports can help them in building their self-confidence, strengthening self-belief, and understanding teamwork.
  • Redistributing care work: Majority of domestic chores and care-giving works fall on women. This increased disproportionately during the pandemic.
    • It is necessary to recognize, reduce and redistribute unpaid care and domestic work, so that women may experience economic opportunities and outcomes on an equal footing to men.
    • Policies that promote sharing of domestic and care work between couple are urgently needed. This will create more paid jobs in the care economy, accelerating progress on women’s economic empowerment.

Way Forward

  • A multi-prolonged approach that includes enhancing employability, sports for leadership development, digital innovations and learning, and bodily autonomy will strengthen leadership abilities among adolescent girls and young women.
  • Nurturing leadership qualities among women will be the first step towards breaking down restrictive gender norms and barriers for truly gender transformative growth.
  • This will help in accelerating girl-and-women-led progress across the Sustainable Development Goals for India and the world.

Indian Government Initiatives to Empower Women

  • STEP (Support to Training and Employment Program for Women)
    • The scheme provides training in skill development and assures employment to women. The government offers grants to institutions and organisations to conduct the training programme.
  • Mahila Shakti Kendras (MSK)
    • It is a one-stop convergent support services for women to develop skills, generate employment opportunities, and increase digital literacy.
  • KIRAN (Knowledge Involvement in Research Advancement for Nurturing)
    • It is an umbrella scheme that encourages women to foster their career by undertaking research in Science and Technology (S&T).
  • Women in Science and Engineering- KIRAN (WISE-KIRAN)
    • The scheme encourages women to pursue research in frontier areas of science and engineering, on problems of societal relevance and to take up S&T-based internship followed by self-employment.
    • Primarily, the scheme will provide opportunities to women scientists and technologists between the age group of 27-57 years who had a break in their career but desired to return to the field.
  • Vigyan Jyoti Scheme
    • The scheme addresses the underrepresentation of women in different fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in the country.
    • Initially it will be introduced at the school level wherein meritorious girl students of Class 9-12 will be encouraged to pursue higher education and career in STEM fields.

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