So, why is Prayaana needed ? Are we just another “feminist” organization?
There are a lot of women empowerment initiatives who work on grassroot levels or work on women safety, sexual abuse, domestic violence, girl child education, rural women upliftment etc. Why do weneed Prayaana Labs which functions for educated women/girls and what difference can we make?
To answer this, we need to understand some current basic contexts. So, here we go.
Beware: Shameful statistics coming up!
It's been 71 yrs since India got independence and our economy still have less than 30% as women workforce compared to China and Brazil with over 65-70 %.
The Global Gender Gap Report ranks 144 countries on the progress they have made towards gender parity in four areas – health, education, economics and politics.In 2016, India’s rank was 87 on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap index. In 2017, India went down 21 places to 108 – far below the global average and much behind its neighbors: China and Bangladesh. It may not explain much, but it gives a pretty good idea of how behind we are and how much there is to be done.
The World Bank said in the May 2017 release of The India Development Report, that the country had one of the lowest female participation in the workforce, ranking 120 out of the131 countries ranked for.
Even though overall job creation has been limited, most of the new ones have been grabbed by men given the social norms, the report said.What is worrisome is the fact that the participation level has been dropping since 2005, despite having 42% graduates women.
And the reason why women quit or in some cases do not even enter the working class, could be attributed to predictable social norms in India: marriage, motherhood, vexed gender relations and biases, and of course patriarchy.
But they may not even be the only reasons!!
Marriage, for example, does affect the rate of participation of women in the workforce. The report says that in villages, the workforce participation rate of married women has been found to be higher than that of unmarried women - whereas, shockingly, in the urban regions, the situation is reversed. Why are city dwelling educated girls not taking up jobs?
Are the said girls ending up as housewives and probably a job seeker who tries to ask her recruiter for easy job timings, location preferences and so many other conditions, so many that the recruiter start to think to substitute her with a male candidate.
We at prayaana work to help women combat obstacles such as -
The average age of marriage for a girl in India is 22 years, whereas it is 27 years in the US, 30 in UK and 24 in China. Most girls get married immediately after their schooling without even trying,forget a job they don't even get to go to a college. Early marriage brings in responsibility of so many things for example; early child rearing,looking after the whole house.,etc also this leads to a lot of early health concerns and in many cases, career often takes a back seat for several years until the children are grown up or maybe it just stays there forever. As time progresses, the qualified women lose their skills as even skills need to be polished now and then to work good and the said women end up with redundant skills which prevent her to taking up a job even after the break. And in India, marriage is mainly a family decision and hence most girls choose to get married to avoid raised eyebrows every time they go outside. Comparatively women in other developed countries ensure that they pursue their career and attain a middle-level career before deciding to get married and they take their time to decide on having a baby or two. This makes it easier for them to come back into their careers.
Between the year of 2008 to 2012, labor court of India received more than 900 complaints of maternity benefits denial at the workplace. The newborn maternal passion of new mothers makes them quit, choosing their little ones over their own life and career. This choice is quite normal, while the fact of employers taking advantage of this vulnerability is not.
A survey of 1,000 women working in the capital of the country, Delhi and of the neighboring areas found that only 18-34% of married women went back to their career after having a child.Even more surprising is the fact that even a developed country like the US doesn’t even have maternity paid leaves at all.
In India traditionally it’s thought to be the mother's responsibility bringing up children. This thought embedded so deep within the female mind makes them think that giving their career life a back seat is okay. New mothers quitting is one thing but with zero flexibility at the workplace leading to the mother either losing her job or quitting herself, isn't acceptable.
Women who have family support or can afford to pay for childcare tend to feel a lot of guilt, again because of their motherly instincts. Very much feeding this guilt is the typical social thinking that women are supposed to take care of the children, the house and other family members while it's the man's job to make money and not meddle in kitchen duties. In many cases, women stop working because her in-laws / husband says that “She is career minded and a baby might not be her cup of tea " ;some people even say no to prospective brides because of their employment status. Even mothers with grownup kids face difficulties in juggling between their jobs and children. So, they choose to quit their careers, this way they think they could manage their husband’s schedule, the kids’ tantrums and their needs and have a bit of me time which they were denied by time itself when she was employed. But she’d feel even more guilty about not being able to spend time with their family. Its seen everywhere, irrespective of the woman's status, or the country’s progress, once a woman becomes a part of a family, guilt is her everyday breakfast, lunch and dinner.
In India, unlike the West, it is very common for employers to probe into the marital status and family situations from a woman seeking a job. These facts and details tend to be a big consideration in the selection and if not explicitly stated, there are hidden recruitment agendas given to recruiters to not process women resumes. For unmarried girls, chances of quitting the job after marriage and for married women, chances of maternity are a big no for many companies..
According to the World Bank report (stated above), women entrepreneurs typically create more jobs for women but in India, even the number of female entrepreneurs is very few. The sixth economic census, released by the ministry of statistics and program implementation(April 2016), presents a worrisome picture of the status of women entrepreneurs in the country.The survey shows that women constitute only 13.76% of the total entrepreneurs, i.e., 8.05 million out of the 58.5 million entrepreneurs.Of these entrepreneurships, a high percentage fall into MSME segment and in Kerala, organisations named Kudumbasree, set up in every district or so, has set up a number of small-scale enterprises around self-help groups.
However, the fact is we are still lagging in the case of professionally qualified women in business. According to Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs taken in March 2017, India scored an overall 41.7 points, ranking 49 among 54 economies globally, with comparatively low Women Business Ownership percentages. The index uses 12 indicators and 25 sub-indicators in 54 economies across the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, North America, Latin America and Europe, representing 78.6 percent of the world’s female labour force.
It is said that India presents lower opportunitiesfor women to assume leadership roles, participation in the workforce or engagement in entrepreneurial activities –which sadly is almost true, the ones who are bold enough mostly won’t be a wife or a mother, the responsibilities thought to be pinning her down.
A regulation was passed in 2015 that every listed company in India should have a woman director on the board. But studies the show poor implementation of the rule. Data provider Prime Database in a report made in the year of 2016 said that 56 NSE-listed companies did not meet the criteria. Several government-run listed companies were part of this 56. One reason cited was lack of suitable candidates, which is quite hard to believe.
The size of the effort doesn’t matter, as long as the effort, the initiative and the vision is strong. Saying so given the above context, we at Prayaana Labs are now striving in our own small way to help the girls and women re-enter their field after a career break. We are an organization made of women, for the women and by the women. The organization comprises of Prayaana Mentors, Prayaana Trainers and Prayaana Ambassadors guiding the Prayaana Associates to become Prayaana Fellows. All fellows become eligible to attain internships and work from campus/home options until they become ready to take up full-time job options. We intend to work until our vision for strong women becomes a reality, and maybe even then.
India needs more women workforce – not just at entry level but also on the board.
Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Beti ko Kaam karne do, Beti ko leader banao !
Become a Prayaana Fellow! Kick Start your career. Become a Leader.