Economic empowerment of women is extremely important to bridge the gap of gender inequality,US-India Business Council Vice Chair and Biocon Executive Chair Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said on Thursday.
Speaking at a virtual event on 'Expanding the US-India Partnership: Promoting Gender Diversity at Work', she said gender inequality starts with the skewed distribution that women face when it comes to the distribution of assets or inheritance or workplace employment or representation in socio-political institutions.
"Economic empowerment is what will bridge the gap of gender inequality. I think economic empowerment of the women is extremely important," Mazumdar-Shaw said.
Even in the corporate world, there is a lot of tokenism in everything we do, she said.
Of the top 100 BSE companies in India, 91 have only one woman director, which means it is just sort of ticking a box. Moreover, when they want to find a woman for the board, it is the same group of women they are looking at. The canvas has to be widened, she added.
The government is very supportive of the issues of the women and has bought out certain excellent policies which are very empowering for women, Mazumdar-Shaw noted.
Highlighting the main issue before women, she said, "I am approached by a lot of women-led startups and they have a single complaint that they don't get access to capital. The access to capital is the real challenge."
For this, women need to network, and need to be more confident to sell their ideas better to investors, she emphasised.
Putting a context to the discussion, USIBC President Nisha Biswal said the COVID-19 pandemic was a crisis of historic proportions, with major impact on lives and livelihoods of people around the world.
The pandemic also provided a 'one, two, three' punch for many working women. The industries that were hit the hardest and earliest by job losses were the ones in which women dominate -- hospitality, education, retail andhealthcare,she added.
"Even after the immediate health crisis abates, many women who found their careers derailed will face significant challenges as we look at the new normal that has exacerbated long standing gender disparity," Biswal said.
The economic hit to both US and Indian economies, and the global economy as a whole will mean that we all need the economic growth dynamism and ingenuity that we can find in the years ahead, she noted.
"Thankfullya key part of that solution is staring at us right in the face, and that is unleashing the economic power of the women, bringing in the world's largest excluded group fully into the fold," Biswal said.
Highlighting the policies of her company,Mastercard Executive Vice Chair Ann Cairns said "in over 200 countries that we operate we pay men and women exactly the same amount for doing the same job. Equal pay for equal work".
The company also has a global maternity and paternity policy, she added.
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