This wonderful post from the Guardian’s bike blog, describing a project which provides bicycles to schoolgirls in the Indian state of Bihar, resonated with me in its description of how it has led to an increase in school attendance.
“Three years ago the state’s new chief minister Nitish Kumar adopted a “gender agenda” and set about redressing his state’s endemic gender imbalances in an attempt to boost development in one of India’s most backward states. His vision was to bring a sense of independence and purpose to his state’s young women, and the flagship initiative of this agenda is the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, a project that gives schoolgirls 2,000 rupees (about £25) to purchase a bicycle.
“The project’s results so far have been extremely promising: in those three years in Bihar alone, 871,000 schoolgirls have taken to the saddle as a result of the scheme. The number of girls dropping out of school has fallen and the number of girls enrolling has risen from 160,000 in 2006-2007 to 490,000 now.”
Read the rest of the article here.
A recent Schumpeter article in The Economist examines the way in which women in emerging world countries such as India, China and Brazil are outperforming their sisters when it comes to education and progress in the corporate world.
Some of the article’s findings as they relate to women in India include:
- 11% of chief executives of large companies in India are female, compared with 3% of Fortune 500 bosses in America and 3% of FTSE 100 bosses in Britain.
- 26% of students at the Indian School of Business are female, a figure comparable with those of Western schools such as the Harvard Business School and INSEAD.
- Living in emerging markets offers many advantages for female professionals. Most obviously, there are plenty of cheap hands to cook and take care of children. “And corporate culture is changing astoundingly fast, not least because companies are hiring so many young people. (Youngsters in India and China grew up steeped in capitalism; their parents did not.)”
- The article also highlights women-friendly programmes offered by Indian corporates, such as: Goldman Sachs (India) pairs expectant mothers with seasoned working mothers. Infosys, an IT firm, provides “pregnancy yoga”. Wipro, another IT company, arranges child-care camps on its campus during long holidays. GE India provides its female staff with assertiveness training.
Business leaders must cultivate their emotional intelligence if they want to relate effectively to their customers and employees, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told attendees at BlogHer last week.
Competency, confident and communication are among the “5 C’s” that shape her leadership philosophy, which she shared with a group of women bloggers and business leaders.
And, perhaps more significantly, should she even try?
The BBC reported last week that the American singer has set her sights on cracking India’s lucrative music market, suggesting that:
“With her choreographed routines, colourful costumes and catchy tunes, she has many trademark Bollywood characteristics … With a growing economy, and a population of more 700 million people under the age of 30, India’s rising middle classes have more money to spend. Bollywood music is still the most popular genre, which might explain why, as part of her mission, Lady Gaga has remixed a number of her songs to give them a more Indian flavour.”
I would love to hear the Indian-influenced remixes of Judas and Born This Way, which have reportedly been tweaked by American-Indian music company Desi Hits – but I can’t get past the sense that Lady Gaga’s primary USP is her appearance and her outrageous stage outfits. She’s not just about the music – she’s about theatre and pageantry.
And dresses made of meat … in a country where 80% of the population are “pure veg” Hindus?
Good luck, Gaga!
A new survey has named Afghanistan the worst place in the world for women to live; Congo, Pakistan and Somalia also fail females, with rape, poverty and infanticide rife.
The survey has been compiled by the Thomson Reuters Foundation to mark the launch of a website, TrustLaw Woman, aimed at providing free legal advice for women’s groups around the world.
The Guardian reports that: “… the appearance of India, a country rapidly developing into an economic super-power, was unexpected. It is ranked as extremely hazardous because of the subcontinent’s high level of female infanticide and sex trafficking.”
The article continues:
India is the fourth most dangerous country. “India’s central bureau of investigation estimated that in 2009 about 90% of trafficking took place within the country and that there were some 3 million prostitutes, of which about 40% were children,” the survey found.
Forced marriage and forced labour trafficking add to the dangers for women. “Up to 50 million girls are thought to be ‘missing’ over the past century due to female infanticide and foeticide,”, the UN population fund says, because parents prefer to have young boys rather than girls.
… according to a recent article by Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times.
He goes on to say that the newly elected chief minister of West Bengal is the “dynamo”, Mamata Banerjee, part of a broader trend of “charismatic female politicians”; read the rest of his article here.
I arrived back in the UK just in time to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day and to speak at an event called “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” at the University of Southampton.
Here’s one of my favourite photos from Mumbai – two female police officers, on duty near the Taj hotel.
And this article from The Hindu offers a sobering look at the lives of many women in today’s India and also lists some of the many trailblazers of the last one hundred years.