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Singapore tops Asia in Women Entrepreneur Cities Index: Is India doing enough for women?


ANI Asia
Singapore, July 29: The first international movement, the forerunner to the now annually celebrated International Women's Day, culminated in coordinated demonstrations by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland for the right to vote, to hold public office and against discrimination in the workplace. In 1975, the United Nations, adopted this movement and declared March the 8th International Woman's Day. Two years later in 1977, the UN General Assembly proclaimed March 8 as the UN Day for women's rights and world peace
In recent years, many multinational corporations established policies and practices in the workplace to ensure and encourage diversity in their hiring practices and on the boards of their companies.
Unfortunately, Asia is not a region synonymous with gender equality.
Societal and cultural norms mean that women are pressured or feel that it's their obligation to relinquish their careers to take on family responsibilities after a few years in the workforce.
Thus, it is not with surprise that Indian cities Bengaluru and Delhi were ranked 43rd (seventh in Asia) and 50th (tenth in Asia) respectively in the latest Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index published earlier this month.
In fact, no Asian city feature in the top twenty. Singapore at 21st is number one amongst Asian cities. North America has the greatest number of cities in the year's top 10, with a total of seven, followed by Europe, which had three. Cities in Latin America and the Middle East didn't make it into the top half.
In the study sponsored by Dell and conducted by London-based global information provider, IHS Markit, San Francisco Bay Area emerged the top city overtaking its Eastern seaboard rival, New York to claim first place from the second place it gained in 2017 when the survey was last conducted. It scored 63.7 points, marginally above the 62.9 set by New York in 2017. The medium score across the 50 cities in 2019 was 40.3compared with 39.3in 2017.
Karen Quintos, Dell's executive vice president and chief customer officer told CNBC that while all cities recorded improvements since the 2017 benchmark index, she noted that all were still well below the 100 mark -the total achievable score - and showed plenty of room for progress.
The Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index measures a city's ability to attract and support high potential women entrepreneurs. The 50 cities were chosen for their reputation as established or emerging hubs of innovation and entrepreneurship and their geographical diversity.
The index is constructed using five "pillars" - market, talent, capital, culture and technology - as well as 2 environments and four weighting criteria. Almost all the pillars consist of a policy sub-category to capture important policies that help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs.
Generally, the majority of the cities have made improvements in many of the ranking criteria with Delhi achieving a global rank of 26th in terms of overall improvements made. More specifically, the bottom 10 cities made progress in the market, capital and talent but slipped in culture and technology. They have also improved in terms of the increasing availability of funding to women entrepreneurs.
In addition, the bottom 10 have also improved in terms of representation of women on corporate boards. Overall, 37 cities out of the 50 surveyed have increased the representation of women on their corporate boards. That Paris performs the best in this metric with 44 per cent representation is because France mandates that all corporate boards must have 40 per cent women representation.
However, there are still lots of room for improvement in the area of women representation in the legislature. The bottom 10 cities have a relatively low representation of 19 per cent. The top ten are also not doing particularly well in this regard at 36 per cent.
A World Bank feature published on International Women's Day this year quoted the statistic that although women make up 48 per cent of the Indian population, they have not benefitted equally from India's rapid economic growth. Another statistic quoted is that 65 per cent of women is literate as compared to 80 per cent of men. Furthermore, India has amongst the lowest female labour force participation rates in the world. Less than a third of women - 15 years or older - are working or actively looking for a job.
One of the projects that the World Bank is involved in to help Indian women entrepreneurs is in launching a livelihood bond together with UN Women and the Small Industries Development Bank of India. This helps individual women entrepreneurs to take up small loans at reasonable interest rates in order to set up or scale-up their own enterprises.
Most certainly women entrepreneurs in India are better off today than they were in the past but much more can be done to help them achieve equality.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Jul 29 2019 | 1:42 PM IST

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