Contributed by: Rajni Dhameja, CFA
IAIP and CFA Institute organized a discussion by Anirudha Dutta on his book “Half a billion a rising: The Emergence of the Indian Woman” on September 30, 2016. This event was organised as a part of “Women in Finance” initiative of CFA Institute. The event was well attended by the participants.
Anirudha started by narrating his journey in writing: from writing articles to writing the book. He travelled extensively within India and abroad for doing research for his book, interviewing many women from various parts of India, who have broken the barriers to move forward in their lives. He has narrated the stories of their willpower and determination in his book. He discussed about the insights drawn from his research, which are explained in the book. Key takeaways are as follows:
Indian women face struggle in majority of the aspects of their lives because of the patriarchal society. In many parts of India, education for girl child is not given so much importance. The decisions about higher education are influenced by the people around. Specially, in case of joint family system, the decisions are taken by not only parents but the people in extended family, which adds an extra layer of struggle.
Thought the numbers are encouraging in terms of growth in number of educated women over the period of time but still lot needs to be done. NGOs will have to work at grass root level to convince the parents for discouraging the early marriage.
All the examples of women which he discussed, education was the key catalyst for them to move forward in life with the whole new paradigm. If there is exponential growth in number of educated women, to unleash the potential, economy has to grow to offer them employment, which corporate sector alone can’t do. Here the startup eco system will have to play its role.
The author discussed that the situation has started changing over the period of time. He observed the difference in behavior between the women of different generations in the same place. The new generation appeared more confident, more aware about the trends due to access to internet, TV etc. This is definitely an encouraging sign. He quoted an example of farmer who wanted to do the FD for his daughter’s education. These are pointing out to the hope for transformation of current situation.
Women account for almost 49% of the population. To unleash the economic and social benefit of such a significant talent, their transformation is must. But to achieve that, transforming only women is not enough, the transformation of other 51% is equally important as the entire society is coexisting.
Comparing India with other countries, we are moving forward but need to catch up with the developed countries. As the change is being witnessed in terms of education and social norms, scenario looks hopeful.