South Asia has the largest gender gap in economic participation and opportunity, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap 2022 report. India has also seen a decline in women’s participation in the labor market in recent years. The United States Consulate General in Kolkata has a long history of working with the government of Jharkhand to empower women and girls in the state. One of the initiatives aims to create a regional support framework for women in the labor market in eastern and northeastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh to continue advocating for the women’s access to active participation in the labor market and policy changes. The US Consulate’s longtime partner, the non-profit Contact Base, headquartered in Kolkata with a presence in Nimdih, Jharkhand, hosted a July 21 roundtable in Ranchi to facilitate stakeholder dialogue on the development of a network to deal with the low number of women in management positions in companies. and increase career choices for girls and young women.
Adrian Pratt, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General in Kolkata, chaired the roundtable. He said, “The US Mission to India has led concerted efforts to address women’s economic participation and empowerment through various programming platforms. Here in East India, our various partnerships have proven that gender-responsive budgeting, gender diversity in the workplace and equal participation in decision-making leads to greater coherence between economic goals and social commitments.” Incubators and stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, employable skills development, funders, investors from organizations such as ICRW, iLeadHR, Center for Change (C3), Breakthrough, Jharkhand Angels, BIT Mesra, XISS, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, ConnexDoor, TEDx Kanke, 366Pi and others participated.
Mehr Kaur of the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, which studies the issue of women’s declining participation in the labor market, stressed the need for spaces where women can work and network. Ashish Kulkarni from the FICCI AVGC forum shared the emerging opportunities for women in animation, games, music, art, and more.
A mentoring network platform (www.women4economy.net) has been launched to help women-led start-ups in eastern and north-eastern India provide seamless access to mentors. Some of the benefits will be access to sector-specific mentors, support to test the prototype, information on funding sources, etc.