Why India Needs a New Brigade of Women Empowerment Companies?
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The female population makes almost half of the world's population. If we talk about India, we are at 191st position out of 201 countries in terms of female to male ratio. According to the United Nations, Sex ratio India has 930 females per 1000 males. Our constitution cherishes women’s rights to equality, including freedom of voice, movement, and rights over their own bodies. Even ancient culture worshipped women in different avatars. Right from the Vedic era, women enjoyed equal status with men in all aspects of life. But today one cannot deny the fact that the majority of the country’s women do not feel safe alone on the streets. Their health, hygiene, education, nutrition, sanitation, gender equality, social life participation, and nation-building contribution status scores way below Indian Men.
Issues that Women Face
Women in India are bound to face some of the most pressing challenges of time, such as poor health and hygiene, child marriage, rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, honor killings, female infanticide, caste issues followed with a long list of other issues and challenges. She is always surrounded by social taboos and stigmas hindering her progress in each and every sphere of life. Even a god gifted biologic process to support fertility and creation i.e. menstruation in our country is stigmatized and surrounded by silence.
One critical aspect of women empowerment is to explicitly address women health, hygiene, and well-being. Poor health & hygiene of women is directly linked with a majority of issues such as school dropouts, gender inequality, lower participation in nation building, the higher the graph of health risks and many more. The Upliftment of women Health and Hygiene should not be considered as Government or Nonprofit Sector’s responsibility only. In fact, the time demands to build more and more women empowerment companies. Once all established and emerging companies dealing with a vast range of products and solutions for women consumers will transform themselves into women empowerment companies, India can truly witness a speedy women empowerment.
And how this will happen?
In the process of transformation to women empowerment companies, women-oriented brands have to think about social awareness above product or brand awareness. An empowered woman as a consumer can ultimately support a better business growth environment. There is an urgent need to create mass awareness about women health issues which are undermined. In the digital era, social media can be used as an effective means to spread a word with campaigns empowering women by educating society with women's problems and their needs.
Investing in women empowerment beyond CSR goals is also a great way to give back to those who have helped support business directly or indirectly? By exploring new social media avenues, high decibel campaigns, and aggressive awareness initiatives, responsible companies can proudly create a conducive environment for women empowerment.
As health and hygiene is one key factor to lead women empowerment, feminine hygiene and health companies have a larger role to play. As per a report by Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism Globally, the feminine hygiene market is expected to be worth over $36 billion (approx. INR 2.40 lakh crore) in the next six years. This promising growth is already inspiring new ideas, concepts and business models to create a new wave of feminine hygiene startups in the country. Every effort of such companies should rightly move towards breaking taboos, stigmas and challenging the odds. In this manner, they can ignite positive mindsets, spark conversations and generate a social wave of change to ensure health, hygiene, and wellbeing for women.
In their new Women Empowerment Company avatar, feminine health, and hygiene brands can become the torchbearers of the much-needed change and perception building in society. One great example is the humongous efforts of these women empowerment companies in breaking taboos and stigmas around menstruation. In the last few years, the country has witnessed a new wave of social awareness to normalize period talks with campaigns like #WhispersBreakSilence, #RedDot etc.
Right from sanitation to hygiene, health, and nutrition, a lot of women empowerment companies are heavily investing in social awareness and sustainable solutions to start a new era of women empowerment. It is high time for right policy support and a favorable business environment to become the world’s largest platform of nurturing women empowerment companies. It is time for Make in India, Digital India, Skill India, and other promising initiatives to join the wave of this change for good.