Two-Day National Seminar on Women Empowerment and Inclusive Growth

Inclusive growth refers to both the velocity and the pattern of the economic growth.  Inclusive growth aims at sustainable economic growth allowing people to contribute and in return benefit from economic growth. In a way, inclusive growth is a long-term concept, which makes sure that everyone is included in the development and growth process of the country.  Inclusive growth means ensuring the contributions of all in economic development regardless of their gender, caste, disability etc. Today India is experiencing a wave of transformation in its growth and when we talk of growth, the role of women cannot be overlooked. As per Census data 2011, the sex ratio (females per 1000 males) is 940. Therefore, women need a special attention with reference to inclusive growth. As per the National Policy for the Empowerment of Women, the principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The Constitution not only grants equality to women, but also empowers the State to adopt measures of positive discrimination in favour of women. Although various laws have been formulated for the empowerment of women in India, but we should not forget gender discrimination is so deep rooted in Indian society that mere formulation of rules and regulations would not serve the purpose.
 Building theoretical frameworks alone cannot fulfill the objective of women empowerment. There is a need of building women capacity through training and non-formal education so that they are able to access and exterminate the root causes of  financial and social inequality in local communities. This would facilitate them to achieve self-reliance and sustainability. To address these issues a two-day National Seminar on “Women Empowerment and Inclusive Growth” was organized on 13th- 14th March, 2015 by Centre for Research, Innovation and Training, The IIS University, Jaipur with the following objectives:
•  To ignite the deliberations for bridging the gap between the regulations and the ground reality of the position of women in Indian society.
•  To discuss the role of women in India’s inclusive growth and how women empowerment can increase the velocity of inclusive growth, through capacity building.
•  To discuss the issues to be tackled to streamline the existing programmes on woman empowerment. 

A brief report of the seminar is as follows:

The inaugural session of the seminar began with lamp lighting and Saraswati Vandana followed by the welcome note of the Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of the University, Dr. Ashok Gupta. He thanked the Indian Council of Social Science Research for extending support in organizing this seminar. He was confident that the deliberations at the seminar will help us to examine the issues related to women empowerment in a critical manner and lay out strategies for accelerating the inclusion of women in the growth of our country.
The Aims and Objectives of the seminar were highlighted by Dr. Subhash Garg, Dean& Director, Centre for Research, Innovation and Training, The IIS University, Jaipur. He stated that this seminar is an attempt to review the existing gender relations as well as to identify those models of development which would result in building an egalitarian society through inclusive growth.

The inaugural address was delivered by Shri Rajeshwar Singh, IAS, Principal Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Gopalan Department, M.D, R.C. D.F, Jaipur. He said that we need to develop a clear understanding about challenges related to gender disparities. He discussed the condition of tribal women living in isolated, mountainous and desert areas where the natural factors pose a number of hardships on the life of women. He emphasized that area disparities should be taken into consideration while framing policies in order to ensure inclusive growth. 
The souvenir of the seminar was also released by Shri Rajeshwar Singh. Prof. Raakhi Gupta, Rector& Registrar of the University maintained that even though achieving gender equality is a challenging task yet it can be accomplished with the combined efforts of academicians, policy planners and administrators. She also thanked the resource persons, participants, guests and staff of the university without whose collective efforts the seminar could not have been organized successfully.

Technical Session I

The topic for panel discussion in this session was Gender Inequalities: Gender Justice, Media and State: Policy Options. This session was moderated by Prof. Roopa Mathur, Head, Dept. of Psychology, The IIS University, Jaipur. The panel experts were Prof. Roopa Mathur, Prof. Kanchan Mathur, Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur and Prof. Promilla Batra, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, M.D University, Rohtak. The session was co-ordinated by Dr. Arti Sharma, The IIS University, Jaipur.
 Prof. Roopa Mathur highlighted the fact that media has played a very limited role in changing the traditionally oriented attitudes of people towards women. She discussed at length the role of media in women empowerment and concluded that media’s political and commercial agendas are not always in full alignment with institutionalized aspirations for female development and empowerment hence there are both positive and negative aspects visible in their representation of women. She suggested that media should play a more effective role in women empowerment.
 Prof. Kanchan Mathur reflected on the causes of gender inequality and stated that it is one of the most all-pervasive forms of inequality throughout the world. She analysed the linkages between gender inequalities, gender justice and the role of media and state. She proposed changes in policies and laws to address unequal gender relations.
Prof. Promilla Batra opined that crime and violence against women is a serious challenge for both the government and the common masses. She proposed that gender related myths should be removed through informational counseling followed by cognitive restructuring and behavioural interventions.
The expert talks were followed by interactive session with the participants. The participants raised several questions related to causes of gender injustice, role of media and psychological interventions to be used for empowerment of women. The expert talks and the interactive session proved to an enriching experience for the participants.

Technical Session II

The second technical session was on ‘Women Empowerment: Discrimination, Violence and Harassment’. This session was moderated by Prof. Nisha Yadav, Head, Dept. of Sociology, The IIS University, Jaipur. The panel experts were Prof. Nisha Yadav, Prof. Shamim Modi, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Prof. Urmila Sharma, Dean, Maharaja Group of Colleges, Udaipur. The session was co-ordinated by Dr. Roopam Kothari, The IIS University, Jaipur. Prof. Nisha Yadav raised several questions on the idea of masculinity and feminity, role of nurture in defining the idea of gender, origin of patriarchy and whether education and economic empowerment can bring a change in the condition of women. She presented a theoretical analysis of patriarchy and women’s subordination. She stated that several well educated and earning women also suffer from violence, disabilities and discrimination, both in the household and at workplace. She concluded by saying that only when patriarchal biases are deconstructed, women empowerment can take place or else it will always remain a myth.
Prof. Shamim Modi shared her experiences of working with the tribal women for the past 22 years. She drew attention to the gross violation of dignity and rights of women in tribal areas by the state machinery of police and forest officials. She expressed concern for adivasi women who have been implicated in fabricated criminal cases of serious nature like kidnapping, loot, attempt to murder etc. She talked at length about custodial violence and emphasized that recommendations for prison reforms should be implemented and compliance should be ensured.
Prof. Urmila Sharma opined that education is the milestone for women empowerment because it enables them to respond to the challenges, understanding power relations and overcoming inequality. She suggested that the gap in male and female literacy should be reduced and women should be motivated to go for higher education. The session was then opened for discussion with the participants. The discussion revolved around patriarchy and condition of tribal women. The discussion enlightened the participants on various aspects of gender inequality.

Technical Session III  

This session was Paper presentation session on the ‘Indian Economy and Women Empowerment’.  This session was chaired by Prof. Ravindra Vinayak, Dean, Academic Affairs, M.D University, Rohtak. Prof. T.N Mathur, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur was the invited speaker in this session. He stated that the role of women empowerment in economy can be studied in two ways: contribution in social inclusion and contribution to regeneration of economy. He discussed the role of women at micro and macro-economic level.
In this session papers were presented by the research scholars and academicians on a wide range of topics ranging from women’s participation in economic growth, different pathways of women empowerment, role of education and e-commerce in women empowerment, corporate social responsibility, gender responsive policy etc. Overall it was a very educative and learning experience for the delegates and the participants.  

Technical Session IV
The second day of the seminar began with the Technical Session IV on ‘Promoting Robust and Sustained Inclusive Growth through Women Empowerment’. The panel experts were Prof. N.D. Mathur, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur, Prof. Nirupama Prakash, Director, Institute of Social Sciences, Amity University, Noida and Prof. H.S. Sharma, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. The session was co-ordinated by Dr. Kanika Jindal, The IIS University, Jaipur. Prof. N.D. Mathur  expressed his concern over skewed sex-ratio in India and discussed the causes of marginal status of women. He opined that inclusive growth is necessary for sustainable development. He advocated for gender equitable access to resources, gender equality at workplace, women entrepreneurship and reconciliation of work and family responsibilities for promoting women empowerment. Prof. Nirupama Prakash highlighted various aspects of women empowerment and opined that the meaning of empowerment is different for different segments of women. She shared her experiences of working with local female entrepreneurs of Solan district in Himachal Pradesh. She discussed the critical employment and social protection challenges which poor women face in developing countries. She suggested that provisions should be made for vocational training for enterprise development and stressed the need for good political and corporate governance through decentralization. Prof. H.S. Sharma established a connection between nature and women and discussed about eco-feminsm. He highlighted the crucial role played by women in conservation of environment and reviewed the government schemes for empowering women in Rajasthan. The panel discussion was followed by interactive session. The participants took deep interest in understanding the issues related to equitable access to resources and how women empowerment can result in inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Technical Session V  
The topic for panel discussion in this session was ‘Employment Creation: Socio-Economic Women Empowerment for Entrepreneurship Development’. The session was moderated by Ms. Chanda Asani, Co-ordinator, Centre for Women Studies, The IIS University, Jaipur. The panel experts were Ms. Chanda Asani, Prof. Ritu Dewan, President Indian Association of Women’s Studies, Dr. Manjula Jagatramka, Director, VAITRANA, Mumbai and Dr. Meena Sharma, Editor and Prime Time Anchor, Focus News Network, New Delhi. The session was co-ordinated by Mr. Abhishek Kumar, The IIS University, Jaipur.
Ms Chanda Asani talked about women’s health and how various aspects of women’s health hold the key to women empowerment. She also discussed about introduction of foundation paper related to women’s studies in universities. Prof. Ritu Dewan stated that the issue of women and work has to be understood in the context of the prevailing dominant economic paradigm of a nation during its specific stage of development trajectory. She analyzed the changes in female work participation and the consequences resulting out of withdrawal of state from public domain. 
Dr. Manjula Jagatramka reflected on the emergence of women entrepreneurs and asserted that women entrepreneurship can make a strong contribution to the economic well-being of the family and communities, poverty reduction and women empowerment. She suggested that training and economic support should be provided to women to become entrepreneurs and to build a better tomorrow.
Dr. Meena Sharma explained how women can themselves take initiatives to empower themselves with help of a documentary on the life of a female farmer in Bihar. She concluded by saying that people of our country have to rise above arbitrary customs and mental revolution has to take place within women themselves. This was followed by open discussion. The participants took keen interest in women entrepreneurship as a means to women empowerment.
Technical Session VI
 This session was Paper Presentation session on the sub-theme ‘Women Empowerment: Constitutional, Legal and Judicial Measures and Policy Options’. The session was chaired by Prof. Asha Kaushik, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur. Prof. Satish Roy, Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth University, Varansi was the invited speaker in this session. He highlighted various policy options related to women empowerment.

The seminar ended with the valedictory session. Dr. Arti Sharma, The IIS University gave the welcome note and Dr. Roopam Kothari, The IIS University presented the seminar report. The Valedictory address was given by Prof. K.D Swami, Vice- Chancellor, Maharaj Surajmal University, Bharatpur. Best Paper Awards were given to Mr. Prakash R. Kadakol, KLE Society’s College of Business Administration, Belgaum, Karnataka for his paper on ‘Impact of Economic Empowerment of Women in Indian Economy’ and Dr. Shree Mishra, National Institute of Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, Karnataka for her paper on ‘Substance Abuse among Women: A Health and Socio-Economic Perspective’. They were given a trophy and  a cheque worth Rs. 1100/-.
Vote of thanks was given by Ms. Chanda Asani, The IIS University, Jaipur.
 This National Seminar on Women Empowerment and Inclusive Growth brought together  scholars from diverse spaces to share and enhance understanding from various perspectives, covering empowerment and inclusive growth.  This seminar not only attempted to bring to light the researches done in this area but also succeeded to unearth latest trends in the areas of women empowerment with respect to media, women’s work, psychological aspects other than the economic and political arenas affecting women. Formal education and research needs reiteration of knowledge of what is inclusive. Most important contribution of this seminar is the glimpse of perspective of underprivileged which the scholars took with them to further bring change towards equal existence. We hope that the deliberations at this two-day seminar and exchange of ideas through discussions and presentations will prove to be a step forward for achieving our goal of gender equality and inclusive growth.


The most significant aspect of the informative and articulate presentations in the seminar were the recommendations that emerged out of the expert talks and papers presented by the academicians. The recommendations are as follows:
•  There is a strong need to shake the cultural values of patriarchy. For this, a radical deconstruction of the gender stereotypes and gender based self-images is required.
•  Gender is a social construct and hence changeable. Men in the society need re-orientation. There is a need for gender sensitization and gender education.
•  The stereo type definitions of masculinity and feminity are carried to the workplace which restrict the meaningful participation of women in employment and also stall their upward career mobility. It is essential to bring institutional changes at home and at workplace.
•  In spite of a number of government regulations and schemes, gender discrimination and inequalities exist in our society. It is the need of the hour to work on changing the human psyche by using some psychological interventions at the ground level.
•  Education is the foundation for women empowerment and is the most powerful tool for change in the status of women.
•  There is a need to change public attitude towards women entrepreneurs. The women should be encouraged to opt for entrepreneurship as an alternative and better career option.
•  The critical elements for inclusive growth are vocational training, agricultural development, employment generation for women through industrial development, access to finance and social sector development.
•  Microcredit and microfinance can play a critical role in empowerment of women.
•  There can be no “one size fits all” policy solution for gender related issues. Context specific tailoring of women empowerment programmes needs urgent attention. There is a need to identify the gaps between theory and practice.
•  Education, health, safety, public dialogue and nutrition are the areas where women need support for empowerment. Families can help in individual empowerment. Women’s associations can help in group empowerment and state and non-state actors  can help in social empowerment.
•  The self-help groups have paved the way for economic independence of women. There is a need to further expand and strengthen the self-help groups.
•  The women have to believe in their potential and enhance their horizon of thinking. The main issue is not to have power over men but to have power over themselves.
•  Increased participation of women in political decision making will prove to be instrumental in ensuring participatory democracy and safeguarding dignity of women.
•  Women should have equal access to land, water, financial resources, business information, education and skill training. For this purpose a gender sensitive national action plan needs to be developed. It requires capacity building of local non governmental organizations and gender sensitive governance. 
• Gender segregated pay statistics should be prepared to identify the gaps. The employees, union representatives and employers can work together for equal pay and equal working conditions and positive discrimination practices.
•  Perception of paid employment and unpaid domestic work should change.
•  Child care institutions should be opened in large numbers and employers should promote family friendly policies so that work life balance can be maintained.
•  The condition of adivasi women is a matter of concern and immediate steps are required to be taken by the government to stop exploitation and harassment of this highly vulnerable segment of women.
•  The media should give fair and adequate space to women related issues and accelerate the endeavours towards their empowerment and emancipation.
•  Women Studies should be incorporated in the curriculum of schools and universities.
•  We are excellent in framing progressive legislations, but the apathy, patriarchal mindset and lack of will-power renders best of laws ineffective. We need to bring changes from the grass-root level.