Investing in Women is social investment-Smriti  Zubin Irani

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Ministry of Women and Child Development and the World Bank organized a discussion programme on the “The Future of Work: Women in India’s Workforce” in New Delhi today. Smriti Zubin Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development along with Dr. Junaid Kamal Ahmad, Country Director India, World Bank, inaugurated the programme.Ms.Pushpa Subrahmanyam, Secretary Food Processing Industry, Praveen Kumar, Secretary Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Sanjeev Kaushik, Additional Secretary, Financial Services and Ajay Tirkey,Special Secretary, Ministry of WCD were present on this occasionalong with women entrepreneurship and other stakeholders.

This discussion programme is part of series of events to observe International Women’s   Day 2020 to celebrate the achievements of women in business, women enablers and public, private and civil society organizations.

Smriti Zubin Irani, in her closing remarks, said that investing on women early in their lifecycle and on their nutrition is a social investment as it enables in the creation of a capable workforce. She further said that gender discrimination is a global challenge and India has led from the front on gender issues. She further added that it is time now to give up the legacy of despair. She informed that from now on any policy or agenda of the Government will not be based on despair and fear.

WCD Minister further stated that a diet plan for women and lactating mothershas, for the first time, been formulated by Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) and shared with all Anganwadi centres across the country. She further informed that there are one lakh cases of domestic violence registered every year and in order to create a gender-neutral society it is essential not only to raise empowered girls but also raise boys who are sensitive to gender issues. For this, the WCD Ministry is working with NIMHANS to ensure counselling and improve the quality of counsellors in schools across all districts inthe country.

Three discussion sessions were held on the central role of women in India’s growth story, investing in women and stories of women entrepreneurs. Various government interventions for women entrepreneurs, their skilling and training and hurdles faced by women who wish to set up their own business, avail a bank loan and join the workforce were discussed. In India only 23 % of the labour force comprises of women and one in five girls are married before the age of 20, school dropout rates of girls are high and due to child care, domestic work and lack of female friendly environment in the workforce number of women in the labour force in India is low. Although there are no quick fixes to this problem, the Government of India through various policies and schemes like National Rural Livelihood Mission, MUDRA, skill development, Stand up India and POSHAN,is making all efforts to enhance, empower and employ women in the labour force.

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