Going digital is the resolution to women’s entrepreneurial issues


Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 15: Women must get on their feet and not shy away from fighting their battles, instead of feeling like victims of repression, suggested the speakers at a stirring roundtable discussion at the International Conference on Gender Equality.

“Entrepreneurism is about helping oneself,” said Ms Maria Umar, the founder and president of Women’s Digital League, an online platform that provides digital training and work to Pakistani women. Maria joined the discussion on ‘Entrepreneurship and leadership’, which was chaired by Additional Chief Secretary of Finance Dr K M Abraham, via Skype from Pakistan.

Almost 90 per cent of the transgender community in India are beggars, dancers or sex workers and the biggest challenge that transgender activist and enterperneur Kalki Subramanium, faces is in finding them an alternative job opportunity, with most of them being school dropouts. “But to be an entrepreneur online, you don’t need to have educational qualifications. You don’t have to wait for investors or donations. The free platform lets you start small,” said Kalki, who began her journey as an entrepreneur by selling windchimes and xylophones.

Ritu Kapur, co-founder of Quint and the founder of Network 18 ,  was critical of the media for glorifying women entrepreneurship by focussing on overachievers instead of picking ordinary entrepreneurs and making leadership seem more accessible. However, for Smt Vanitha Datlani, Chairperson of Telegana CII, the major issue is in-house while working in a male dominated industry. “The prime difficulty is to convince senior male colleagues that a woman can take her own decisions and be responsible for them,” said Smt Datlani, who invited Gender Park to replicate the conference in the new state.

Activist Smt Hasina Khan and activist-dancer Smt Sharmistha Mukherjee were the other speakers in the session. 

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