One in three companies in India prefer hiring men: World Economic Forum study

A World Economic Forum (WEF) study has found that companies in India experiencing the highest growth prefer hiring men and that technology-led job growth benefits man more than women. The study also found that while one in three companies preferred hiring men, only one in 10 companies said they wanted to hire more women.

The WEF “Future of Work in India” report prepared with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and released Friday also shows for jobs that are experiencing the highest growth, companies are hiring women at only 26 per cent. The study also found that women are entering the workforce at a slower rate than current female workforce participation.

Highlights and findings of the report:

Major gender gap in Indian corporates: Four out of five retail firms hire less than 10% women. Companies in India experiencing the highest growth prefer hiring men and technology-led job growth benefits men more than women. Notably, while one in three companies preferred hiring men, only one in 10 companies said they wanted to hire more women, accentuating the gender gap rampant in the country.

The report found that just 2.4% of these have half or more female employees, and as many as 71% have fewer than 10%. Out of this 71%, 30% companies have no female employees, and another 32% have less than 5%. The sector-wise breakup showed that 79% companies in retail, and 77% in transport & logistics, have less than 10% female employees, while banking & finance companies have 61% female participation and textiles 64%.

India’s female workforce participation is mere 27% and stands 23% points lower than global average. Jobs in India are experiencing highest growth and companies are hiring women at only 26%. Women in India are entering workforce at a slower rate than current female workforce participation.

More than 33% of the total companies said that they prefer to hire men, as compared to just over one-tenth that said that they are looking to hire more women going forward. In the last five years, the surveyed companies stated that they hired just 26% female workers in the job roles that saw the most growth, which is less than India’s already low female labour force participation of 27%.

About WEF:

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.

It was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. It is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests. The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.

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Supreme Court opens Sabarimala temple to women of all ages

The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion of 4: 1, lifted the centuries-old practice of prohibiting women from the age of menarche to menopause to enter the Lord Ayyappa temple at Sabarimala in Kerala.

The legend has it that the temple deity Ayyappa followed celibacy all through his life. Therefore, women devotees of menstruating age are considered “impure” by supporters of the ban and are prohibited from entering the temple, on the pretext that they would disturb the celibacy of the deity.

On one side we pray to goddesses; on the other, women of a certain age are considered ‘impure’. This dualistic approach is nothing but patriarchy practiced in religion.

Exclusion on grounds of biological and physiological features like menstruation was therefore unconstitutional as it is violative of the right to equality and dignity of women.

Hence, Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Act of 1965, which mandates the prohibition in Sabarimala temple, ultra vires the Constitution. The Rule violated the fundamental right of a Hindu woman to offer worship at a place of her choice. Right to worship is equally available to men and women.

Justice Indu Malhotra, the lone woman judge on the Constitution Bench, dissented from the majority opinion. She held that the determination of what constituted an essential practice in a religion should not be decided by judges on the basis of their personal viewpoints.

She held that essentiality of a religious practice or custom had to be decided within the religion. It was a matter of personal faith. Constitutional morality in a pluralistic society gave freedom to practice even irrational or illogical customs and usages.

Harmonization of fundamental rights with religion included providing freedom for diverse sects to practice their customs and beliefs. Therefore, the Judge held that there were strong, plausible reasons to show that Ayyappa devotees had attributes of a religious denomination.

They have distinct names, properties. Besides, the Sabarimala temple was not funded out of the Consolidated Fund.

The significance of the verdict:

The Supreme Court’s ruling establishes the legal principle that individual freedom prevails over purported group rights, even in matters of religion. Devotees of Lord Ayyappa do not constitute a separate religious denomination and that the prohibition on women is not an essential part of Hindu religion.

Beyond the legality of the practice, the court has also sought to grapple with the stigmatization of women devotees based on a medieval view of menstruation as symbolizing impurity and pollution.

The decision reaffirms the Constitution’s transformative character and derives strength from the centrality it accords to fundamental rights.

Devotion cannot be subjected to the stereotypes of gender. Stigma built around traditional notions of impurity has no place in the constitutional order, and exclusion based on the notion of impurity is a form of untouchability.

Any rule based on segregation of women pertaining to biological characteristics is indefensible and unconstitutional.

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International Women Entrepreneurs Summit gets underway in Nepal

Vice President of Nepal Nanda Bahadur Pun inaugurated International Women Entrepreneurs Summit

The theme of the 3-day event is “Equality begins with Economic Empowerment”.

The main objective of the summit is to bring together achievers, women business leaders, professionals, international service providers, resource organizations, experts, government representatives, and other stakeholders with a focus on innovative economic transformation through discussions and collaborations.

South Asian Women Development Forum (SAWDF):

SAWDF is an autonomous, nonprofit organization based in Kathmandu, Nepal.

It was granted the status of SAARC Recognized Body by 36th Session of SAARC Council Ministers at 18th SAARC Summit held in Kathmandu in 2014.

It is the first SAARC Recognized Body organization working on women entrepreneurs issues.

It represents national women entrepreneurs’ associations or organizations, institutions working towards economic issues of women entrepreneurs in the SAARC Region.

Its membership is based on organizations with extensive work around women’s entrepreneurship.

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Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana Achieves 5 Crore Mark

Loksabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan today handed over 5 croreth LPG connection under Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) in the Parliament House. The Government launched Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY) on 1st May 2016 and it is implemented by Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas through its Oil Marketing Companies i.e., IOC, BPCL and HPCL through their network of distributors across the country.

Through PMUY, initially, 5 crore BPL households were targeted for providing deposit free LPG connections to BPL households by 31st March 2019. In a record time of 28 months for its launch, PMUY achieved the initial target of providing 5 crores LPG connection to BPL households.

In the current year, considering the huge success of the Scheme, the target was revised to 8 crores with a budgetary allocation of Rs 12,800 crore.

About the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana

Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana aims to provide LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) connections to poor households.

Under the scheme, an adult woman member of a below poverty line family identified through the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) is given a deposit-free LPG connection with a financial assistance of Rs 1,600 per connection by the Centre.

Eligible households will be identified in consultation with state governments and Union territories. The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

Some of the objectives of the scheme are:

  • Empowering women and protecting their health.
  • Reducing the serious health hazards associated with cooking based on fossil fuel.
  • Reducing the number of deaths in India due to unclean cooking fuel.
  • Preventing young children from the significant number of acute respiratory illnesses caused due to indoor air pollution by burning the fossil fuel.

A large section of Indians, especially women and girls, are exposed to severe household air pollution (HAP) from the use of solid fuels such as biomass, dung cakes and coal for cooking. A report from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare places HAP as the second leading risk factor contributing to India’s disease burden.

According to the World Health Organization, solid fuel use is responsible for about 13% of all mortality and morbidity in India (measured as Disability-Adjusted Life Years), and causes about 40% of all pulmonary disorders, nearly 30% of cataract incidences, and over 20% each of ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and lower respiratory infection.

PMUY has been a revolutionary initiative that has transformed the lives of more than 3.57 crore households spanning across the length and breadth of the country. The initiative is in line with Governments aim to eradicate energy poverty, thereby promoting economic empowerment.

The PMUY is a bold and much-needed initiative, but it should be recognized that this is just a first step. The real test of the PMUY and its successor programmes will be in how they translate the provision of connections to sustained use of LPG or other clean fuels such as electricity or biogas. Truly smokeless kitchens can be realized only if the government follows up with measures that go beyond connections to actual usage of LPG. This may require concerted efforts cutting across Ministries beyond petroleum and natural gas and including those of health, rural development and women and child welfare.

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FICCI FLO launches mobile app for women’s wellness

FICCI Ladies Organisation, the women’s wing of Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has launched a mobile application aimed at creating awareness on preventive healthcare.

The mobile application “WOW” (Wellness of Women) is backed by city-based Apollo Hospitals Group that offers access to renowned doctors and provides health tips

Users can also upload clinical information such as reports, images, and scans so that experts can provide an opinion within a stipulated time,” FICCI Ladies Organisation, National President, Pinky Reddy said after unveiling the app at an event here, recently.

Apollo Hospitals Group, Executive Vice Chairperson, Preetha Reddy said, “Apollo has partnered with FLO by way of extending much-needed healthcare for women across the country.”

“The emphasis will be more on generating awareness and preventive measures along with providing international care treatment,” she added.

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Denying Women Entry to the Sabarimala Temple Amounts to Untouchability

The Ayyappa temple in Sabarimala, Kerala, prohibits women of menstruating age (between ten and 50 years of age) from entering it – a prohibition enforced under Rule 3(b) of the Kerala Hindu Places of Public Worship (Authorisation of Entry) Rules, 1965: “Women who are not by custom and usage allowed to enter a place of public worship shall not be entitled to enter or offer worship in any place of public worship.” The Young Lawyers’ Association filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging this rule in 2006.

Women are not allowed to enter Sabarimala temple. The discrimination is based on physiological reason as women between the age group of 10-50 undergo menstruation.

Fundamental Right in question:

Can right of women to pray at the place of their choice be discriminated against solely based “on a biological factor (menstruation) exclusive to the female gender”?

All Hindus have the right to enter the temple and denying them the right was a kind of “untouchability” which was abolished by Article 17 of the Constitution.

It also goes against the spirit of Articles 14, 15 and 21.

In a public place of worship, a woman can enter, where a man can go. What applies to a man, applies to a woman.

Women and their physiological phenomena are creations of God. If not God, of nature. Why should this (menstruation) be a reason for exclusion for employment or worship or anything?

Article 25 (1) mandates freedom of conscience and the right to practice religion. “All persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practice and propagate religion”. This means right to pray is a constitutional right.

Also, the Constitution upholds the ideals of liberty of thought, expression, belief, and faith, be it for man or woman.

Therefore, the discrimination is a violation of the rights to equality and gender justice.

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Women have fundamental right to enter Sabarimala temple: Supreme Court

Hearing the contentious issue relating to the ban on entry of women between 10 and 50 years of age in Kerala’s historic Sabarimala temple, the Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that a woman’s right to pray is equal to that of a man and it should not be dependent on law.

The Chief Justice of India while hearing the matter observed, “On what basis you (temple authorities) deny the entry. It is against the Constitutional mandate. Once you open it to the public, anybody can go.”

The apex court began hearing the case on Tuesday and asked the counsel for petitioners Indian Young Lawyers’ Association and others to limit their arguments on the questions of reference made by a three-judge bench of apex court last year. The top court had last year asked a constitutional bench to examine the legality of the ban on entry of women in the age group of 10-50 at the temple.

The bench also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra fixed the time limit for the counsel for petitioners and asked them to try to wrap up their arguments within the fixed time limit.

Meanwhile, Kerala minister K Surendran said that government is in favor of women’s entry inside the temple.

Several women activists have opposed the ban on the entry of women inside the temple. Earlier in January this year, the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the Sabarimala Temple, had decided to make proof-of-age documents mandatory for female devotees at the shrine.

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NITI Aayog’s WEP Signs SoI with Financial Institutions & Social Organisations

NITI Aayog’s Women Entrepreneurs Platform (WEP) signed five separate Statement of Intent (SoIs) with Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank Limited, Indiabulls Housing Finance Limited, SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited, Sreemanta Sankar Mission and the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

The WEP was established on the occasion of International Women’s’ Day in March 2018 to substantially increase the number of women entrepreneurs who will create and empower a dynamic New India.

The WEP intends to undertake this task through its partner organizations, private as well as public organizations; by bringing their existing as well as new women-specific initiatives on a single platform, which in turn will also address knowledge gaps, promote partner connects and will increase the outreach of partner programmes.

The SoIs signed with financial institutions such as the Shri Mahila Sewa Sahakari Bank, Indiabulls Housing Finance, and SREI Infrastructure Finance shall be housed under the WEP-Finance vertical and will provide financial assistance to women entrepreneurs and address the finance-related challenges faced by them through WEP.

WEP will partner with the Sreemanta Sankar Mission of Guwahati to empower established as well as aspiring women entrepreneurs in North East India through WEP North East Chapter and will work to popularize WEP in North East so that more women entrepreneurs in that region can avail benefits under the WEP initiative. Similarly, the SoI with the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union and as an organization of poor, self-employed women workers, includes commitments to mobilize women entrepreneurs in rural areas and promote them in Livelihood Entrepreneurship.

Through its partner organizations, WEP aims to create opportunities and support women in order to help them realize their entrepreneurial aspirations, scale up innovative initiatives, and chalk out sustainable and long-term strategies for their businesses. WEP website which will be enriched with entrepreneurial initiatives and support programmes would guide you to schemes, initiatives, and products relevant to your requirement.

The WEP is an initiative under the NITI Aayog which was launched on March 8, 2018, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day. The idea of the Platform was first mooted by Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog who announced the setting-up of a Women Entrepreneurship Platform in NITI Aayog at the conclusion of the 8th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) held in Hyderabad in 2017 with an overarching theme of ‘Women first, Prosperity for All’.

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Nasscom launches programme to support women techies

In an effort to increase the number of women at senior levels in the Information Technology (IT) industry, Nasscom unveiled its ‘Women Wizards Rule Tech’ programme for women techies

The Women Wizards Rule Tech was announced in March at the Nasscom Diversity and Inclusion Summit in Chennai as a joint initiative by the Nasscom Sector Skills Council and the Data Security Council of India.

The programme is designed to support women who are moving up the career ladder, while also paving the way for potential leaders of the future.

The initiative will aid women techies in core technologies like IT-Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES), Business Process Management (BPM), product and research and development (R&D) sectors by equipping them with the skills required for an edge in their career.


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Mass march marks 100 years of women’s vote

Women in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, and London donned the colors of the suffragette movement – green, white and violet – as part of a mass procession.

One hundred female artists worked with local communities to create banners for the marches in the four cities.

The protest banners bear messages about equality.


The Representation of the People Act, 1918 granted property-owning British women over age 30 the right to vote.

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