By Swaran Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Srinivasan Services Trust
As a vast nation such as India where there are 1000 males per 934 females (as per 2011 census), empowering women is the need of the hour in building a progressive nation. Empowerment of women is widely discussed today, as women work in par with men. Albeit, they profess an independent outlook, regardless of whether they are at home or working. The women have become more confident to make their own decisions with regard to their education, career, profession and lifestyle. Today, the women are successfully taking up diverse professions to prove that they are second to none in any respect. They have gained financial independence to lead their own lives and build their own identity.
But the question is how does one build a favorable ecosystem? There are many factors, which aid the empowerment of women such as education, access to health care, opportunities to generate income etc. Education is the first step as it helps them acquire skillset to help long-term financial security as well as prepares them to combat challenges. Education not only provide knowledge but also imparts a clear understanding of gender relations, helps to develop a sense of self-worth and create a society of mutual respect. The increasing number of women participation in the adult literacy programs has also seen a gradual decrease in the gender gap of literacy levels.
Women empowerment has moved beyond being an urban phenomenon as the Government and various welfare organisations are trying to bring a paradigm shift at grassroot level. One of the key government schemes, Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana currently supports more than 50 million small business owners, a majority of whom (78%) are women. Enterprising women come together in the form of Self Help Groups (SHGs) where they explore business ideas, gain access to resources (human, intellectual and financial) to begin their venture and explore means to expand these as well.
For example, the story of one of the SHG member Sayeeda Banu is inspiring who lives in Nanjangud Taluk in Karnataka with her husband and three children. She was struggling to maintain a livelihood with a minimum wage of her husband. Three years ago she enrolled with the local SHG with the help of the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST) and formed the Sri Subanalla SHG in her village. With the guidance of SST, Sayeeda approached the local bank for a loan of Rs 25,000. She started a multi-utility shop with the money and today earns somewhere between Rs 6000 to Rs 8000 after all expenses paid. Once a shy housewife, Sayeeda is now a confident business owner who successfully runs a shop. Not only has this given her and her family a sustainable income, but has socially empowered them too.
This is one example of not only a successful woman but a prosperous family and a community. Empowering women is the key to the well-being of individuals, families and rural communities, as well as overall economic productivity, given women’s presence in the agricultural workforce worldwide.
The need of the hour is thoughtful planning considering complex social, economic and cultural nuances, decision-making dynamics within the community and access to resources. It is important to thoroughly consider, research, and collaborate necessary actions for holistic and long-lasting solutions that will help in empowering women in the true sense.
Mr. Swaran Singh, IAS (R) is the Chief Executive Officer of the Srinivasan Services Trust (SST), the social arm of the TVS Motor Company since August, 2018. Before joining SST, Mr. Singh was into public service, where he worked for over three decades. He held significant portfolio in the Government of Tamil Nadu as the Corporation Commissioner in Trichy, District Collector of Tuticorin, Chairman & MD of TWAD board and Chairman of TNEB. He retired from the Government of Tamil Nadu as Principal Secretary & Commissioner for Industries & Commerce.