Never Ending stretches of backwaters and lush green coconut groves welcome you as you drive through the southern Indian state of Kerala. It is the only state in India where the sex ratio is of 1084 females per 1000 males. At 92%, Kerala has one of the highest female literacy rates in the country.
And yet, years of gender-oriented division of labour has resulted in the concentration of women in low-paying unorganised sectors such as agricultural labour, cottage industries and selected service sectors. This is a reality for women across the country.
Due to lack of access or opportunities in organised sectors, most women earn their livelihood from agriculture labour, dairy and dairy-related sectors, fishing or by running a small business of a grocery shop, an eatery, a laundry or a salon.
If we observe closely, the women entrepreneurs who run a variety of local small businesses are drivers of the local economy in many ways. Women also dominate the agriculture and dairy labour in the country. In fact, they make a significant contribution to the Indian economy.
There are nearly three million micro, small, and medium enterprises with full or partial female ownership in the country as of today. Collectively, these women-owned businesses employ over 8 million people.
This information makes us ask some pertinent questions: “Who are these women entrepreneurs?” and “How do they run their enterprises?”“How are women coping with the challenges of earning a livelihood?” and “How is the economic contribution of women being recognised in the nation’s GDP?”
To continue reading the full article, written by IEF Founder & Chairperson Bhairavi Jani, for DNA India, please click here.