According to a 2020 International Labour Organization (ILO) report, only 20.3% of women in India were employed, compared to 76.5% of men. Among them, 90% of the women were working in the unorganised sector — where jobs are low-paid and low-skilled. A 2017 McKinsey report highlighted that if men and women equally participated in the economy, India’s GDP could see an increase of 60% by 2025.
These two data points state the obvious i.e. there is an urgent need to empower women by providing them with the tools they require to break down the barriers to their success. As simple as it may sound, the path to reach this ideal outcome is difficult — but not an impossible one.
I strongly believe that lack of equitable access to education is one of the major reasons that holds women back. Education can help unlock their full potential and create an equal society. It can help women understand the various possibilities around them and will give them the confidence to step out and explore these possibilities.
Moreover, to attain equal workforce participation, there’s a need for more women to join the organised sector. With most working women in the unorganised sector currently, it is essential to train more women to join the organised sector, which can give them better working conditions and benefits.
And this is only possible through education, especially from a young age. Educating a new generation of young female learners to ensure they participate in the workforce as adults, is the way forward. And we, at BYJU’S, are making great headway in this regard with our Education for All initiative.
Through this initiative, we have, and continue to empower, young girls from underserved communities across the country with the power of education. Ever since the launch, we have reached millions of children in the most remote locations of India.
The UN theme for this year’s Women’s Day was DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality. The role of innovation and technology to attain gender equality is perhaps most relevant in the field of education as that can truly enable more women of the future. Educating girl children now, from all parts of the country and the world, can perhaps lead to equitable workforce participation.
It is by leveraging this innovation and technology NOW that more girls can be educated. Technology eases the problem of access to quality education. It is a great equaliser when it comes to equitable distribution of resources and has the power to empower thousands at the same time.
The COVID pandemic, though unfortunate, did push the boundaries of technology and innovation in education. A joint report by the World Bank, UNESCO, and UNICEF, estimates losses worth $17 trillion in lifetime earnings for the current generation of students. It is only with online learning that this learning loss could have been minimised.
Online learning has also enabled education to reach the homes of many aspiring young girls and women. With the help of technology-led learning processes, women can now learn anytime, anywhere, and in their chosen language. It also provides exposure to a world of learning beyond their immediate surroundings — a chance to collaborate with students from across the world.
Technology improves access to resources that couldn’t have been made available otherwise. Women, especially those from underserved communities, now have the opportunity to achieve digital and financial literacy. This can help them take an active part in the workforce of the future.
The benefits are unending, much like the opportunities for women if they are given access to good, quality education. As Indra Nooyi succinctly said — “No economy can succeed without tapping the incredible potential of women.”
How do YOU think technology and innovation can help more women participate in the workforce? Tell us your opinions in the comments below.
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