Women in rural areas need someone to look up to and gain confidence. Women entrepreneurs have a big responsibility to empower not just their peers but their whole gender
A viral video of Sarojini Naidu, while speaking in the United States of America as an ambassador, delivering a speech on how she represented India in the new world has gone viral. “If you read the whole history of the Indian civilisation, you will realise that women have been the very pivot of its culture, of all its inspiration, and of all the embassies of peace,” she further says in the video. While this is extremely empowering and motivating, for some reason, the reality is distant even after 95 years.
Let’s talk figures
According to the Annual Status of Education Report (ASER report 2014, only 1 out of 100 girls from Rural India make it to college. As per another report by the same entity in 2022, there was a further decline in learning levels post Covid-19. Of those surveyed, barely 33 per cent of Class III students could read grade II-level text and less than half—44.8 per cent—could do basic subtraction. Of course, this also included both men and women, which is even more alarming. But this issue can be delved into on another day.
The country’s literacy rate for women is 39 per cent versus 64 per cent for men. For example, in Uttar Pradesh is even lower, around 25 per cent for women. The aforementioned number is both shocking and depressing considering the fact that women form almost half of our population. A sizeable number of those women either strive for their existence or are homemakers with no light in sight.
Mending the mindset
Rural areas play a huge role in shaping the condition of women in India. The rural areas are progressing and developing at quite a pace. Farmer families earning pennies send their children to work in factories. However, no prizes for guessing which gender would be the preferred one to go and earn jobs in factories and offices. Parents are of the view that a girl, even if she is educated, will yield no returns in their future life as she will get married and have no scope for a career after that. Moreover, while the son is busy earning a livelihood in his job, the daughter will have to look after the farming. Basically, a man working on farms is replaced by a woman in many cases. This further hampers their chances of basic education, forget higher education. Another mindset is to protect a woman’s dignity and the stigma of safeguarding them from men before marriage.
Realising one’s true potential
Successful women entrepreneurs are key in order to breaking the stereotype in rural areas. Women entrepreneurs motivate a lot of others since their good careers are a morale boost for states where education for women is negligible. They find solace in the fact that their species can do well and make a career out of it. They look up to them and take pride in their existence. They can muster courage and finally believe that they can do it too. They can brave all the odds and make their own decisions to become and self-reliant.
Skill development in women is the need of the hour. Women will feel confident enough and they will be able to chart out their own map and can take the rural areas on a pedestal.
Onus on successful women
Women entrepreneurs who have made it have a huge role to play in empowering their gender. The same women, knowingly or unknowingly, become an influencer of sorts. Women eventually start looking up to them. Entrepreneurs should reach out to them and conduct workshops and share their stories of survival, success, and eventual inspirational and influential figure. They should give maximum chances to women workers to come up in life.
It is also a responsibility on the society and government’s part to make sure all the sections of society support women and bring them to a point where they can gain respect and contribute to the betterment of each other.
Women can do multifaceted roles. It is only a matter of time before they are given the right platform to showcase what they can do. The change is visible and evident. It needs to spread like wildfire. India will be an unstoppable force once men and women work in tandem.
Sarojini Naidu, along with all the great women in India, will smile brightly.