‘Patriarchal society needs to be broken down in India ‘

Indian women are advancing in leadership positions, but the road ahead is long

Indian women are reclaiming leadership roles by embarking on their own ventures later in life by taking control of their lives and shuning traditional stereotype.

“Quitting a job has not given me a ticket to freedom,” said Vijetha Verma, reflecting on her journey from a white-collar position at Federal Bank to the founder of her own ad agency. Enduring abuse in her previous job, Verma felt trapped and hopeless.

Vijetha working in her office. Photo:Vijetha Verma

However, fueled by a desire to prove herself, she transitioned into her dream role as a social media ad strategist. Despite initial struggles and doubts, Verma persevered with the support of her husband, eventually building a successful business with a global clientele.

According to the studies, there were more than 2 crore women who left their well-established jobs in India from 2017 due to not getting the right job due to education, mental pressure from work, and also due to pressure from the family.

Shivani Gupta, for instance, faced familial coercion into marriage and subsequent pressure to leave her job. After enduring hardship and contemplating suicide, she found strength in motherhood and entrepreneurship, establishing a flourishing nail art studio to support her child’s education.

“My family forced me into marriage at the age of 24 even when I wanted to do something else with my life,” she said. “When I got married I had no support and my husband’s kin would always taunt my job and myself. I fell into depression and many times contemplated suicide. After six years I was fed up and got a divorce. My parents were not happy with my decision and broke all the relations with me. But then my son gave me hope and I also started what I always wanted to do I took a loan from the bank and started my nail art studio and now it’s been 2 years since I have been doing this business, my child is going to school and having a good education.”

Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) data shows that women represent 49 per cent of the population but they only contribute around 18 per cent to the Indian economy. Also, women’s representation in the leadership role has declined from 19 per cent in 2021 to 16 per cent in 2023.

“Downfall of women in the Indian corporate world is a stark reflection of the systemic hurdles that women face at their workplaces,” said Christina A. D’Souza, senior director at Adfact SPR. “I think is the harsh reality of declining job opportunities. Most women are not just stepping away from traditional employment, but they’re also finding freelance and consulting arenas less accommodating. I think that’s also because there’s an uncertainty of reliable jobs and there’s a lack of clear pricing benchmarks.”

India is one of the fastest growing economy in the world, but the status of women has not improved at the same pace.

“Patriarchal society needs to be broken down in India,” said Dr Navpreet Kaur, who has been working for the women’s empowerment for the last two decades. Indian women are expected to obey their father when they are young, and after marriage, they need to follow the husband. “This still exists in our society.”

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