In a recent analysis of 2012 Economic census done by IndiaSpend, Tamil Nadu has emerged as the state with the highest number of women entrepreneurs in the nation. This was closely followed by Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and West Bengal respectively.
“The five states with the largest proportion of literate women – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Maharashtra – account for 53% (4.3 million) of all business establishments owned by women nationwide, although no more than 33% of India’s women live in these states” reported IndiaSpend.
This throws some fresh light into the increasing need for good quality skilling and literacy programs as these become necessary enablers in today world to help individual realize their complete potential. Especially for individuals who more often than not end up becoming a minority group because of the biases against their gender, caste etc.
This is further highlighted with the positive correlation between literacy levels and their ability to work and to create something of their own. The need to establish strong literacy programs to help women and structurally tackling societal norms and biases to enable to increase women’s participation in India’s workforce has become critical. Female participation in India’s workforce has declined from 34% in 1999 to 27% in 2014, IndiaSpend reported in August 2016, the worst rate among BRICS nations. It also stands lower than several of its neighboring nations like Bangladesh (57.4%), Nepal (79.9%) and Sri Lanka (35.1%).
But literacy in isolation is only a part of the solution. According to the 2011 census, while the female literacy rate was 65.5% nationwide, the female participation in the overall workforce was 25.5%. This point towards a vital aspect of most skilling and literacy programs (private or public) which focuses on creating a suitable environment to enable individuals to successfully utilize the skills and knowledge that they have gained through the various such programs.
Given the bleak predictions of automation's impact on the job structure in India, building a holistic perspective in the skilling and literacy programs that we run, both within private institutions and through government run programs, need to focus less on tokenistic transfer of knowledge and rather focus on enabling the individuals to successfully leverage these opportunities to be able to contribute tin the overall production. With increasing private and public partnership models on increasing the reach and quality that such programs have traditionally had, the need of the hour, then, becomes to also work towards a collective mindset shift that enables a significant portion of the working population to become more effective in production prowess.