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Unless Women Move Forward, Country Can’t Move Forward: Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Former Chairperson, National Commission For Women

We need to teach women their rights at a young age. India has gender friendly laws, but their implementation is pathetic

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On 13th November, Thinkthrough Consulting in association with WEConnect International organized the ThinkBig 2017 Conference at Kingdom of Dreams in Gurgaon, where the theme was Women in Business and aimed to empower women entrepreneurs. By connecting women entrepreneurs, companies and government on the same platform, the conference aimed to employ a tri-sector approach to nurture an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem for women owned businesses and help all the stakeholders to have meaningful interactions with each other. With the presence of the government, the businesses involved also got a chance to learn about the various initiatives by the government to help support women entrepreneurship and how to take advantage of business-friendly policies initiated by the State.

Giving the welcome and overview of the summit, Parul Soni, Global Managing Partner, Thinkthrough Consulting, said, “If you look at globally, there have been different platforms which are for people, but there have been very less platform for women. We are not asking for reservation, we are asking for equal opportunity. I want governments to have women in governance in their majority. We have many women in the Indian government too, in the Cabinet, things will happen, and change will come.” He also added, “We have 109 women associations which have come together as an aggregate platform. We have at least 76 companies who are pledging their support for ThinkBig. With the passion and enthusiasm of people, this platform will grow. I want to see the impact of bringing this community together, I want women to women lending to happen, women to invest in women.”

Vinay Pratap Singh, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Gurugram, Haryana, said, ”We are expecting a lot of valuable discussions on education as an enabler, access to entrepreneurial ecosystems, access to finance, access to technology and women business associations. In the economic growth of Gurugram, women have a crucial role to play. We have women employed at every level in the job ecosystem in Gurugram. With such a significant contribution of women in the workplace, we have challenges for safety for women in and outside the workplace”. “As a city, we endeavour to make it a safe city for women to work, study and enjoy here, and involve women in business”, he added.

“To all women entrepreneurs, to all the girls, women leaders, women professionals who are dreaming, I want to say, that women don’t need to have role-models in great women and men, but they can find role models in their parents or anyone who inspires them. House-wives are entrepreneurs, and women are born entrepreneurs.  As long as you can make an impact, you are an entrepreneur. Women have the skill to be vulnerable, being more sensitive, which is the single biggest quality required to succeed in life”, said Anurag Batra, Chairman, BW Businessworld Media Group and Exchange4Media, adding that, “Family support, balancing work and life, funding capital and a support system were the main challenges for women to be entrepreneurs. Women have to look at role-models who haven’t succeeded in the traditional sense, so they don’t fear failure.”

K. Ratna Prabha, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka, who had been involved with the conference previously, said, “This platform actively supports access to financial institutions’ and entrepreneurial ecosystems for aspiring women entrepreneurs. India is emerging as one of the most dynamic nations, with equal opportunity for women. A healthy and happy nation can be created by empowering women. A resounding message will be sent across the world, that women are no less in doing business in our country”. She also added, “Women have been given special attention in Karnataka for enterprise building and industrial capacity building for sustained and inclusive growth. Managing both home and work is not a small feat, and women play multiple roles in their lives and as entrepreneurs, they succeed in each role.  Women should also emerge as leaders within their ecosystem, to bring a systematic and cultural change in society.  This is the right time to redesign, reframe and rearticulate the role of women as entrepreneurs.”

“In order for women to think big, governments, bureaucracy and politicians also must learn to think small. We must learn to believe in ourselves. Most women see a huge gap in remuneration in the money we take home, as compared to men. Please ask for what is your due, don’t hold back”, said Lalitha Kumaramangalam, Former Chairperson, National Commission for Women, Government of India, adding that, “Employers have to start looking at providing facilities for women to not only enter the workplace but also stay in it. Sexual harassment doesn’t just take place in big companies, it happens in small places. One of the things we need understand that women are already productive, we are not objects of CSR. 90% of women who come to the National Commission for Women don’t know the laws.” She also went on to add, “We need to start teaching women that they can take charge of their own reproduction. We need to teach women their rights at a young age. India has gender friendly laws, but their implementation is pathetic. We need more women in the bureaucracy, full stop. Unless women are able to move forward, the country cannot move forward.”