The sharp drop in the female labour force participation is a matter of concern and has gained a lot of attention. Attempting to tackle it is like peeling the layers of an onion, where the more you unravel, the more emerges.
Why is unpaid work (eg: home care) not considered in the definition of work? Do women themselves support the idea of paid work outside (in a November 2018 ILO study, 26% did not)? Is education serving to bring an increase in job prospects or marriage prospects? Educated women are rejecting farm jobs, but how can they occupy themselves when faced with a dearth of non-farm jobs? To what extent does a woman even want to earn were she given the opportunity – what holds her back? Does she worry that her economic success may result in her husband relinquishing his own source of income entirely? How can a woman ensure financial control of her enterprise if she is dependent on a man to sell her goods at the market? How can she access markets herself if she has limited mobility due to care duties or other restrictions? These nuances can help us in understanding the tensions at play related to work in a woman’s life.
Socio-cultural pressures and the “child care penalty” have resulted in a significant proportion of young women being restricted to their homes, yet they are well positioned to spend a part of their day on a home-based nano-enterprise. These enterprises can flourish when women have recourse to the right interventions on family sensitization, skills, self-confidence, ability to converse with customers, financial access to well-structured products, sustained markets, the support of a peer and mentor network, etc. Digital literacy plays a key role in unlocking opportunities, access and information through social media, internet and digital payments.
While some SHGs have started micro-enterprises that hire employees, they are essentially communities at their core, and not all can make the transition easily. The opportunity for turning the tide on female labour force participation may well lie in moving focus from the collective to the individual entrepreneur, and specially in women with part-time work availability, who can grow their businesses as and when their home care duties ease over time.
This month, we are delighted to have a guest contribution from Lisa Heydlauff, Founder and CEO, Going To School, whose resources set a benchmark in designing in gender equality. Here’s a quote from their Children’s Skill Report:
“The girls came later. I was the first girl building with boys. They saw me, then they came. Girls can be so funny sometimes about building things. Then there was the boys and girls thing, that people would pass comments that boys would say something, but it’s all just silly. Build I said, use your super power, make something that was not there before, when we build and make together we’re not girls or boys, we’re just young people making something that was not there before. And that’s cool.”
Director, Research and Evaluation, GAME
Ravi Venkatesan and Mohan Padaki at the annual GAP event at Sabarmati Ashram
Ravi Venkatesan with Bill Gates and the book that inspired the launch of GAME
1Bridge Celebrates successful Entrepreneurs (1Bridge Advisors)
Can you teach someone to become an entrepreneur?
~ Lisa Heydlauff
Founder and CEO, Going To School
The world is equally split.
Many believe you can’t teach anyone to be an entrepreneur ever. While others, hands on our hearts knowing that we don’t have the answers for what comes next, desperately hope we can. We hope we can because the world is a mess.
Climate change, unemployment, water ~ too much, too little; garbage, plastic, violence. Millions of young people are growing up in the middle of it, they’re in school, they are dropping out, they are going from school to work.
Entrepreneurs across time, in the beginning and now, solve problems. They try new things that don’t make sense to other people.
Why? They’re doing it for the big heroic reason of making things right not just for themselves but for a lot of people. Money is secondary, a by-product. Even if you are from a low-income group, choosing to be an entrepreneur is about righting wrongs, doing new things, proving you can. It’s also about what’s smart, efficiency, where there is a need, ‘a problem to be solved’. It’s much more compelling to sell a garbage recycling company than a truck service. Do you get where we’re going with this?
A garbage recycling company is a good story.
Like all good stories, the hero sets out, upset by something that’s not right (empathy for everyone that lives in a town of smelly garbage). She faces opposition (the way things have always been = smelly). She digs deep (mental health = does the world always have to be smelly?). She sees a streak of light (inspiration, epiphany, magical moment). She starts. Some people come to help, others still try to hold her back explaining ‘young women don’t do that’. Still, against all odds and without an example of someone doing that before (role model), except in that movie (story, emotion, entertainment), she finds a way. She puts together whatever she’s got to make a go of it (prototype). She shows it to people. Some like it (those who need that thing too = live in the smelly town). Others want a formal plan (investors = cities). Read More
1 BRIDGE SUCCESS STORIES
Arjun is an extremely dedicated and hardworking entrepreneur from Shivamogga District. Being the son of farmer and a night watchman did not deter his ambition of becoming an entrepreneur. Arjun runs his own general provision store while also attending evening college. He has been an entrepreneur with 1 Bridge for 2.5 years and describes his stint as a “super journey”. Being a BA with 1 Bridge has opened up a window of opportunities for him personally and earned him immense respect amongst members of the village community. This has led to increased business for him and trust in the products offered through the bridge he provides Arjun believes that patience is the key to success and there is no shortcut.
Ramamurthy comes from a modest family background , and is based out of Hirehalli Village in Tumkuru village. He has been successfully running the Common Service Center ( CSC ) which is a hugely popular CSC in his district. This center has been instrumental in providing online digital services for all programs launched and executed both by the State Government and Central Government. This center is a hub for all online digital services offered by the state and the central governments and has all people in that village and surrounding villages flocking to this CSC to have all their needs met , be it PAN card application, Aadhar card processing, insurance options , to name a few. Apart from the CSC, Ramamurthy also runs a fancy store cum provision store. He successfully runs the 1 Bridge business model and is the advisor in the village for all product and services required by the Rural Consumer . In his words, being an entrepreneur with 1 Bridge enables him to bring brands like Amazon, Facebook to the doorsteps of the rural consumers. Purchase of mobiles, purchase of automobiles, amongst a host of other products has never been so easy in rural areas. Partnering with Facebook has made digital literacy the buzzword in Tumkuru. Ramamurthy is very happy to be looked upon as a ‘ One Stop Shop’ due to the business model set up by 1 Bridge
The IKEA Foundation and Going To School are partnering to help young people in Bihar learn the skills they need to find a job.
Each year in India over 60 million students leave school, more than 70% of whom can’t find work because they don’t have the skills employers are looking for.
Women constitute only 14 per cent of the total entrepreneurs in the country. Women in rural areas face multiple barriers to pursuing income-generating activities, with patriarchal family and societal norms being the primary hurdle.
The World Bank, UN Women (a United Nations entity dedicated to gender equality and empowerment of women), and Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI) have come together to launch a five-year tenor ‘women’s livelihood bond’ to raise ₹300 crore.
Evaluating Youth Social Action
Does participating in social action boost the skills young people need to succeed in adult life?
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