Women entrepreneurs are keen on adopting new technologies to reach out to the world, and it is for Digital India and institutional funding to reach them
Union minister for commerce and industries, Nirmala Sitharaman, said that women are no longer proxies and are taking their own decisions whether it is in politics or as entrepreneurs. “Women are no longer shadows of men. In business, women do most ruthless cost-benefit analyses. Therefore, it is only beneficial to enhance their role in business and entrepreneurships by using digital media,” she said, while speaking at the International Women’s Day function organised by Moneylife Foundation in Mumbai.
The minister also felicitated two extraordinary activists, Dr Maria Barretto, CEO of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorder Society (PDMDS), and Shaheen Mistri, founder of Teach for India and Akanksha Foundation.
Talking about the enhanced role of women in changing times, Ms Sitharaman said, “Earlier women were assumed to be proxies for their male relatives. However, this is rapidly changing. Especially, during my frequent visits to some southern states, I have often found women asking questions on development. In fact, in local panchayats and gramsabhas, these women representatives have brought development agenda to the forefront.”
Describing how women in rural areas are now coming forward to adopt technology to reach the outer world, Ms Sitharaman said, “When I proposed to build a community hall for women at these places, one woman asked me whether it will have computers as well. The woman told me that she wanted her daughter to help her through the computers and Internet and not her son who was working in the city. This, however, is just one of the several examples, how women from rural areas are keen on adopting technology to grow their business.”
Last year, the minister adopted two villages, namely, Pedamainavani Lanka and Thruputalla in West Godavari district, under the prime minister’s Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana.
Referring to a National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) report, Ms Sitharaman said, “Over half the country’s workforce is self-employed. Out of this, about 8.9% are rural women, while the percentage of self-employed women in urban area is just over 1%. In short, about 10% women are self-employed. But there are no facilities, like funding, obtaining registrations and other necessary permissions from government bodies. Nothing is available for them and they do not even get easy help. Women are already making a difference. However, they are not cared. In this situation, institutional mechanism for funding, like Mudra Bank, need to not only help but also make them understand the nitty-gritty of the trade and business,” Ms Sitharaman added.
Further, she said, “Digital India, the one-step-shop for government services, needs to reach these women entrepreneurs in rural areas,” and added, “Women are not shy of new technologies. They want to be on the Internet. They want the world to see their business. So it is up to us how we can provide them facilities like computers and Internet so that the products from these women entrepreneurs reach to better markets.”
Digital India, an initiative of the Narendra Modi government, promises to transform India into a connected knowledge economy offering world-class services at the click of a mouse. It will be implemented in a phased manner.
At the end of the function, Nirali Kartik enthralled the audience with her beautiful voice. She sang on the theme, “Mrig Nayanee: A Woman’s Eyes and Expression”. She started the session with a bandish in raag Jog, followed by a song expressing the various moods of Radha and Kaali through tarana, a Holi song and a Sufi song, before ending her recital on a high note with popular songs like “Chhap Tilak” and “Duma Dum Mast Kalandar”.