The President of India, Mr. Ram Nath Kovind suggested members of the FICCI Ladies Organsation (FLO) on 5 April 2018 to make start-ups by women an integral part of their value chains as vendors, ancillaries, suppliers and distributors or in any other form. “Our corporate sector must take determined steps towards creating women-friendly and gender-sensitive supply-chains to empower women in our economy, rather than just accommodate them,” he said while addressing the 34th Annual Session of FLO on the theme ‘Women Transforming India’.
President Kovind said that women constitute half of India’s population. They contribute to the economy at work and at home, in many diverse ways. “Yet, when it comes to business and commerce, it is regrettable that women have not been given their due. We need to create conditions for more and more of our daughters and sisters to come into the workforce. We need to push harder to ensure appropriate, encouraging and safe conditions at home, in society and at the work-place to enhance the percentage of working women,” he said.
The President added that if more women become part of the workforce, both household incomes and the GDP will rise. India will become a more prosperous nation and become a more equal society.
He said that the government has taken decisive steps to promote a culture of enterprise among ordinary citizens, especially women. Under the ‘Stand-Up India’ initiative, about 45,000 loans have been disbursed, mainly to sole proprietors. Almost 39,000 of these have gone to women. Under the MUDRA scheme, over the past three financial years, about 117 million loans have been sanctioned. Of these loans, close to 88 million have gone to women entrepreneurs. He noted with satisfaction that as of December 2017, the number of NPAs in the MUDRA scheme is less than eight per cent of the loans sanctioned.
The President said that genuine business failures can happen. But when there is a wilful and criminal default on a bank loan, then it is families of our fellows Indians that suffer. The innocent citizen loses out, and ultimately the honest tax-payer bears the burden. It is admirable that at the grassroots of our country – in small hamlets and among traditionally underprivileged and deprived communities – MUDRA entrepreneurs are striving to pay back their loans.
The real responsibility of organisations such as FLO is not merely to skill young women for jobs. That is, of course, important in itself. But of even greater importance is the role FLO plays in encouraging women to become entrepreneurs – job creators and job givers, rather than just job seekers.
Welcoming President Kovind, the President of FLO, Vasvi Bharat Ram, said that FLO prepares women to become meaningful contributors on company boards and has a legal and advocacy cell to help them take legally correct decisions for an empowered life. “Our goal is to build a strong and powerful network of women leaders. Through dialogue and creative interactions, we hope to communicate to all stake holders, the vital contribution that women can play in nation building,” she said.
FICCI President, Rashesh Shah, in his remarks, said that the Indian economy was on a rapid growth path. From a 2.5 trillion dollar economy, it is slated to reach the 5 trillion dollar mark in the next seven years. For this to happen, it would be imperative to ensure that more and more women join the workforce and contribute to the growth of the economy.
Pinky Reddy, President-Elect of FLO, said that FLO recognises that women’s participation in the social, political and economic activities of the country enriches the fabric of the nation. Increased access to resources and opportunities for women not only improves their own economic status but also their households and communities.
The Annual Session withnessed the presentation of FLO Icon Awards to eight women for excellence in their fields of work. These are: Aarti Vij, Chief of AIIMS Organ Retrieval and Banking Organisation (for achievements in health & wellness); Bharati Chaturvedi, Director, Chintan (environmental protection); Ekta Kapur, Joint MD & Creative Director, Balaji Telefilms (media entrepreneurship);Falguni Nayar, Founder & CEO, NYKAA (digital entrepreneurship); Kamal Kumbhar, Social Entrepreneur (grassroots mobilisation); Namita Gokhale, Author and Director of Jaipur Literature Festival (Promotion of Literature); Tessy Thomas, Director, Advanced Systems Laborator, DRDO (science & technology) and Twinkle Khanna,Entrepreneur, Author & Film Producer (conscientious cinema).
The FLO Gender Parity Index Award was given away to Sunil Bijlani, Senior Vice President, Synchrony International Service by Jyotsna Suri, Past President, FICCI.