What is the Women’s Role in Economic Development in 2022?

Women’s Role in Economic Development

Recently, a Global Risk Report has been published by the World Economic Forum. One of the biggest risks expressed throughout the world is social inequality that is translating into economic, political, judicial, etc, and other inequalities. India is the fastest-growing economy and the Fifth largest economy in GDP terms but still, women account for only 31% in the banking sector & 23% in Parliament. It raises several questions in mind, can development take place without women? How do women contribute to various sectors of economic development? What is women’s role in economic development? Why economic dividends are not empowering women.

Economic development can be defined as a multidimensional process that empowers each section of society to utilize its own potential. That itself answers that development is not possible by leaving any section of society. According to Mahatma Gandhi, ” development cannot take place without the contribution of another half”.

Women and Economic Development

Why is women’s economic empowerment important for Economic Development?

Women’s role in development starts in the family where she empowers her children to utilize their potential through education, and health. In other words, women are the chief agency of converting demographic dividends to human capital. That’s why, there is a saying, ” You educate a man, educate a man, you educate women, you educate a generation”. Moreover, poverty is a situation when an individual is not able to fulfill their basic requirements. Here, women can play an important role in eliminating poverty.

Like the “white revolution” happened with the contribution of women. As they use to take care of cattle at home. Moreover, women also played important role in the success of the Green Revolution in Northwest India. Similarly, self-help groups like “Kudumbashree” actually played a decisive role in improving livelihood in Kerala.

Today, everybody around the world is curious about India’s demographic dividend. That can act as an important resource for economic development. Moreover, to achieve sustainable economic development, we need to utilize a demographic dividend contributed by women. That can increase the number of doctors, engineers, teachers, etc. It also consequently improves the livelihood of all. That’s why, Vivekananda said,” a bird can’t fly long with only one wing”.

Why there is a need for Women’s Empowerment?

Sustainable development can only come by aligning our economic goals with our fight against climate change. Women shift from smoke-based “chullah” to LPG cylinder-based cooking, which will decrease deforestation as well as prevent air pollution. They can be agents of change against “Open Defecation” and institutionalize the use of toilets in society. Today, these changes might be seen as small. But, in long term, it will prove substantial.

Women’s participation in political institutions can help in achieving the idea of economic development. For instance, in Bibipur village, where Mahila sarpanch institutionalized Mahila Samiti for checking crime and violence against women. Moreover, also ensure 100% access to toilets by building community toilets. It not only institutionalized economic prosperity but also social equality.

New technologies open make opportunities for women like e-commerce, working from home, etc. Economic empowerment of women can translate into improving social status. But, we are not facing gender inequality.

women's role in economic development

Development Potential of a Woman in Economic Development

Women have extremely good economic potential but, it is not translating into development goals. One of the major reasons is the patriarchal mindset of society.

That’s why PM Modi said,” today’s biggest stumbling block is not man capability but men’s mindset”. The patriarchal mindset of society initiates a vicious cycle of empowerment for women. This vicious cycle takes a life cycle approach and women got constrained by it. Lower education indicators, economic potential, and nutrition deficiency translate into diseases that disempower women. Ultimately led to early marriage, and nutrient women. Prone to high Infant Mortality Rate(IMR) and Maternal Mortality Rate(MMR).

A biased mindset discourages women from entrepreneurship. Only 12% of total loans are given to women applicants. Even we have passed the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments that have 33% reservation of Women. As per the study by the Indian Institute of public administration, in about 94% of cases, Sarpanch offices are run by women’s husbands as a de facto power. The patriarchal mindset has been resulting in social, economic, and political inequalities that not only harm today’s development processes but also weaken the base of development for the coming generations.

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Women Empowerment Program by GOI

Transforming the social attitudes of the common man can start with behavioral units for each policy at the ground level. For instance, various initiatives like gender budgeting and gender sensitization to administrative agencies can lead to the empowerment of women. Similarly, various schemes like Startup India, mudra, and stand up India, improves financial access to women by men dating banks to provide loans.

However, this can help in economic resource accessibility to women. Along with social attitude Reformation, the implementation of schemes like Janani Suraksha Yojana, Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana, Beti Bachao Beti padhao, and Prerna, can help in breaking the vicious cycle.

Along with government agencies, the media can play an important role by highlighting gaps in policy implementation and feedback channels from the ground. Moreover, spreading aspirational messages and case-study like “Bibipur” will indeed break the patriarchal mindset. Another arm of governance SHG & NGO has actually performed a transformational role.
The real game-changer would be when we all take a pledge to fight against the patriarchal mindset and discrimination against women as responsible citizens. Only then we will be able to realize the goal of development that is economically inclusive, politically participating, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable.

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Vikramjit Singh, founder of Newscoop, an esteemed UPSC educational website, helps aspirants prepare for UPSC CSE with 5 years of experience, offering a deep understanding of crucial concepts.

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