He was addressing the gathering at the Women Entrepreneurship Platform Conclave and after presenting Women Transforming India Awards 2018, organised by the NIITI Aayog, WEP and UN in India, on 16 December 2018. The CEO of NITI Aayog, Amitabh Kant, the UN Resident Coordinator in India, Yuri Afanasiev, the Tennis Star, Sania Mirza and other dignitaries were present on the occasion.
The Vice President said the contribution of Indian women to GDP, currently at 17%, was well below the global average of 37%. Only 27% of women in India were gainfully employed. “These are the numbers that pose a challenge to the lawmakers and lawmakers of this country, and this is where NITI AAyog’s efforts in empowering women entrepreneurs through WEP is specially commendable”, he added.
Observing that a country cannot progress if half of its population was not encouraged to be equal partner in progress, he said, the good news, however was that India in the past few years has recorded a healthy growth in women entrepreneurship.
Across the country, there are more than 8 million women who have started or are running their businesses, with more than 58% of women entrepreneurs starting their ventures between the ages of 20 and 30 and the onus was on initiatives like WEP & Startup India to keep up the momentum, he added.
Naidu discrimination against women has to end, be it in terms of differential wages or skewed opportunities for career advancement. The private sector can play a major role in ending discrimination by being equal opportunity employers and it is time that the ‘glass ceiling’ is shattered, he added.
The Vice President said that it was high time that we focused on gender equality. Women have to be given a level playing field. He said 5 “E”s have to be given importance: Education of high quality, Equality of opportunity in all fields, Empowerment through skiling, Emancipation from discriminatory and exploitative practices and enabling conditions for economic upliftment, including equal rights to proeperty, he added.
Naidu also expressed happiness that 55,000 women masons called Rani Mistris have been trained by the Jharkhand government over the last year. They played a crucial role in that State’s achievement of Open Defecation Free status and helped construct more than 15 lakh toilets under the Swachh Bharat mission, he added.
The Vice President presented Women Transforming India Awards 2018 to 13 women who have excelled in various fields from different parts of the country.
The Vice President congratulated the NITI Aayog for creating this platform, the WEP Summit, to deliberate upon the various facets of women empowerment, a crucial ingredient of growth and an essential precondition for development. He further said that the WTI Awards being presented today by the NITI Aayog seek to honor the achievements of women entrepreneurs. I truly feel privileged to be amongst such accomplished women achievers, he added.