Hyderabad……The Vice President, Shri M Venkaiah Naidu today called upon the industry to unlock ‘gender dividend’ to put India on a rapid growth path while noting that our female labour force is around 20 per cent.
Virtually addressing an event Vande Mataram, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav India @75 of the FICCI Ladies Organization (FICCI FLO) Hyderabad Chapter, the Vice President said “ We often gloss over the fact that we have an important demographic dividend we can unlock” and emphasized that women-led industrial workforce can drive growth at a rapid pace. “We need to draw the best out of this talent pool to power our economy forward. “Women are our growth leaders of the future”, he added.
The Vice President also stressed the need to look into issues that hinder women from realizing their full potential at workplaces. Observing that the pandemic has further deepened employment inequalities between genders, Shri advised looking at the issues of ‘representation, remuneration and roles’ to empower women.
Referring to the issue of pay disparity, Shri Naidu noted that equal pay for equal work continues to be a basic demand that is still unfulfilled even in most developed countries and in the highest strata of the corporate world. He observed that the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020 points to a pay disparity of around 15% even in advanced economies and that no country has achieved gender parity in wages yet.
In this regard, the Vice President said India should lead the way in bridging the divide. Lauding the progressive Maternity Benefit (Amendment) Act, 2017, he said it showed the way to even developed countries by increasing paid maternity leave from 12 weeks to 26 weeks. The law will help mitigate the gender pay gap that is found in working women who go through motherhood and child care, he added.
Noting the issue of under-representation of women in the formal sector, Shri Naidu remarked that the issue of breaking barriers doesn’t stop at the lowest rungs. “The glass-ceiling stretches to the very top”, he said, observing that there are only around 35 women CEOs even in the Fortune 500 companies.
In this context, Shri Naidu expressed his happiness that in India, every year, many women from all over the country are making a mark with their accomplishments in diverse fields. He cited the report ‘Women in Business 2021’ by Grant Thornton, according to which India ranks third in the world for women working in senior management positions. He suggested that this signals a changing outlook of Indian businesses towards working women and positive tidings for the Indian economy. Companies now know the long-term benefits of inclusive work culture, Shri Naidu remarked.
Underscoring the importance of providing quality education to the girl child, Shri Naidu noted that girls in school are performing better than boys, but there is a gap in their enrolment in higher education. He also observed that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on girl child’s education. “We need to correct these disparities in a mission mode”, Shri Naidu stressed.
The Vice President further reflected on the importance of empowering women politically, economically and socially. “Politically, we need to introduce adequate reservations for women in state legislatures and the Parliament. Economically, we have to enable women to start businesses and cooperatives through schemes like Stand Up India. Socially, we need to ensure that women do not face any kind of discrimination and stringent action should be taken against those committing atrocities against women”, he advised.
“Educate, Enlighten and Empower”- this should be the mantra for us to let women lead our country to its rightful place, the Vice President noted.
On this occasion, Shri Naidu also lauded women who have been on the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19 – doctors, nurses, para-medical staff, sanitary workers, ASHA workers and policewomen, among others.
Voicing his concern about the second wave of COVID-19, the Vice President expressed confidence that India will emerge stronger from this difficult phase of COVID. Further, he suggested that fighting the pandemic is not just about waiting for the curve to get flattened, but also about inculcating the behaviors of ‘new normal’, investing in health infrastructure, practicing healthy habits and be ever-prepared and ever-vigilant to combat any major health crisis.
I would have been more than happy to meet you, greet you and spend time with you physically. But, looking at the current situation it was not possible. We hope to overcome this situation very soon. You cannot replace ‘actual’ with ‘virtual’ he said. And added “I am happy to note that FLO is inspired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav India @75 and FICCI Ladies Organisation(FLO) Hyderabad Chapter is organizing Vande Mataram—-Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav India @75 today.
Mr. Naidu was the chief guest at the maiden program for the year FLO Hyderabad Chapter. Three distinguished women achievers from India Armed Forces Asha Vashist, Wing Commander, Indian Air Force; Vartika Joshi, Lt Commander, Indian Navy and Shalini Singh, Retd. Captain, Indian Army were guest speakers. Ujjwala Singhania, National President, FICCI FLO was the guest of honour.
Speaking on the occasion Ms. Ujjwala Singhania said the Vande Mataram program being organized by FLO Hyderabad Chapter aligns well with the National Program. FLO Hyderabad has curated this program so well. She also announced that the FLO would be opening its 18th Chapter Jammu Kashmir and Ladakh next month.
Welcoming the gathering, Uma Chigurupati said “alone we are powerless, but a better chance of being heard, promoting change, fighting for our beliefs and we can make things happen. Courage, Capability and Compassion are the words we should remember and implement. That’s why my mission statement is “Together we can, with Courage, Capability and Compassion.”
She outlined her vision for the year. The Vision for the year will be Creating Sustainable livelihood through Vocational training and skill development, she informed.
“I choose the main initiative for this year ‘ health and wellness. Especially due to the present scenario, Uma said and added, I felt that there should be more focus on this cause.
I will focus on four verticals—Speaker Sessions, learning modules, initiatives, Events and Conclaves during the year she informed.
I would like to work towards reviving local arts, handlooms and handicrafts such as Bidri, Cherial Art, Narayanpetand, and Khadi Handlooms, she added.
Sharing her journey Asha Vashist from Indian Air Force said the strength of the body is dictated by the strength of the mind. My dream was to fly high. Inspired by a real-time event I got into Indian Air Force. Though I had initial hiccups, I finally landed where I wanted to be. Indian Air Force made me a winner. She explained her Lima Book of Records feat of the Longest cross-country microlight expedition which she has undertaken in the year 2011 along with some other colleagues. It covered 7,600kms in 80 hours 15 minutes in 19 days.
Shalini Singh, from the Indian Army, shared how she as a homebound woman of 23 years with a child lost husband, an Army officer in an encounter in Jammu & Kashmir. And how she transformed herself much against the wishes of the well-wishers and became an officer in the Army within the one year after her husband’s death. Don’t lose hope when challenges challenge you. In fact, challenges shape us. Accept them and fight towards your goal. She thanked the Indian Army for all that she has achieved today.
Vertika Joshi, an officer from the Navy shared how from the days of scared of water, she conquered the sea along with six other navy officers as part of an expedition. I was one of the six women officers of the Indian Navy, who successfully circumnavigated the globe on the sailing vessel, INSV Tarini.. The expedition, known as the Navika Sagar Parikrama, was the first-ever Indian circumnavigation of the globe by an all-women crew. Adapting to the variant moods of surroundings and keeping the team together were the two lessons I have learnt through this expedition, she shared. Navy is a great career option for women. You can be a proud citizen and refined person, she told young girls who are aspiring to get into the Navy.