Women leaders, change makers and facilitators in skill space in India – Part 1

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Pooja Gianchandani, German Chancellor’s Fellow

Pooja_G_German_Chancellor_FellowContinue to be bold, courageous. Try to chose the wisest thing and once you’ve chosen the wisest thing go out and try to achieve it. Be it.” – Maya Angelou

For millions of women, freedom to choose is a luxury. To choose freely who they can aspire to be, what they can be and how can they be. Often it is but a decision, wrapped with the collective wisdom of family – ‘this is best for you’ – or the counsels who provide controlled perspectives – ‘you have three options’ – around which you are allowed to weave your choices.  This is a hard hitting reality when a woman wants to make a Career Choice.

Vocational Education has suffered from many biases and gender insensitivity is one of its most glaring anomaly. Through the years our systems have successfully structured careers as men and women oriented. While each group struggles to overcome stereotypes, more men have been able to make the switch and take up ‘culturally for women’ professions. Naturally, therefore women have Jobs and not Careers.

While lots of this has changed in the past decade there is still so much more to be done. We are a labour intensive economy and not a talent excess market. Skills Development programmes can therefore have a very significant impact on redefining gender roles. Companies –large and small – have to walk the talk and enforce HR systems diligently. They have to look at the benefits of hiring talent vs qualification and not men vs women.

In many of the highly developed economies especially in Europe, selection of careers is based on skills & aptitude and not gender. Often I find women learning bricklaying, mechatronics, machining or landscaping with equal ease and no sense of ‘standing out’.  In these scenarios competition is for the best plumber, best electrician, best florist. The award and reward is also purely skills based.

Awareness is the key but people in positions of influence have to continue doing their bits. In 2017, when the social fabric of the world is changing in many unusual ways, we all have to work collaboratively, support each other leaving insecurities and create opportunities for everyone to grow. There has never been a better time before to #BeBoldForChange.

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