Hyderabad has been revamped into a city of pride, illuminated by the presence of bright stars from all over the world - the entrepreneur participants of Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) 2017, the top level officials from US, media persons from worldwide, volunteers, workers and organizers of the event, many other key political officials from India and abroad, Governor and Chief Minister of Telangana, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and of course, the lady herself, the elegant Miss Ivanka Trump.
I feel it is more than just chance that I happen to be in the city of Hyderabad around the time of GES, and it makes me follow the nitty-gritties of this grand event more eagerly than ever. As a woman, I feel great to see that the theme of this year's GES is -
"Women First, Prosperity for All".
To me, it means if you put the women first, you can be assured about the prosperity of all. I watched Ivanka speaking at the opening ceremony of GES 2017, and am blown away by the grandeur with which she delivered such a strong speech with so simplicity. Her appearance in the luminous green dress was an icing on her persona.
There are endless things to praise about from what she spoke - how she spoke - and what lessons it convey to us and the world, but I will skip to the key learning that I had to do justice to the topic I want to emphasize here. Here is a peek to what I could correlate with most, being a woman, social worker, dreamer, and human-
Ivanka says that if India closes the labour-force gender gap even by half, it could help India grow its GDP by over 150 billion dollars in the next three years.
Remarkable as it sounds but what it means for us?
The biggest question in front of us is how to close the labor force gender gap i.e. how to get more and more women to participate in generating income, being self dependent and creating opportunities for others.
I have personally met tens of women in various small and big cities in India who I believe have more potential to grow than the brightest people who work in the software giants in metro cities. I believe it's only a matter of chance, opportunities, right mentoring, hand holding, and more importantly believing in their potential, passion and perseverance.
My students' mothers used to come to me to check for available jobs for income as low as Rs. 1000 a month (less than 15 dollars a month). I used to get shocked, shattered, depressed, disappointed, or feel incapable to do anything for them. I still have not been able to get them any job or mentor them to earn any money for their skills such as cooking, stitching, painting, packaging, nursing, care taking - just to name a few.
If we want to make a difference, can we try to make one woman -just one - independent; or can we try to hellp one woman run her own business; or can we get one woman learn a life skill so she could make money for her family; or can we teach one woman how to use a smart phone; or can we help one woman open her account in bank and how to use it; can we?
I think if we have the answer to above questions, we understand what it takes to build the gender gap in India and across the developing nations. The problem is so deep and big that any government alone cannot solve it. It requires support of people like you through time, mentoring, money, identifying and recruiting such potentials and then nurturing them to make their own identity!
I want to request the readers of this article to post their comments on this topic. If you have any inputs, please share. It is not for me, not for you, nor for anyone who is on this platform - it's for those who have never known this platform and maybe never will. But can we help them to get here, and further on and on...
Swati is the General Manager of Social Venture Partners (SVP) Hyderaad, where she builds powerful partnerships with non-profit organisations to tackle India's most pressing social challenges. SVP is the world's largest network of engaged philanthropists, with over 3,200+ investor-donors across more than 40 cities worldwide. Swati is a Teach For India Fellow - she has taught 100 girls for two years in a slum community in New Delhi. She has previously worked with Hedge Funds for four years as a consultant in New Delhi and New York. Swati holds a bachelor degree in Computer Science from the Institute of Engineering and Rural Technology.