Digital rights make for stronger women, stronger society

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The utilization of digital platforms is the need of the hour and the focus should be more on the digital skills as 4th industrial revolution remains one of the key transition areas, “ Ms Roshni Sen, Principal Secretary, Department of Technical Education, Training & Skill Development, Government of West Bengal emphasized while giving her special address at the Conference on Breaking Down Boundaries organized by CII – Indian Women Network West Bengal Chapter in Kolkata today. Ms Sen said that it was found that out of the total population of India only 45% of the women are connected to internet. As far as technical education is concerned, only 10-15% women take admissions in ITI and polytechnics which is primarily the reason why the senior management technical positions in industry in devoid of women, she added. Quoting a recent report by World Economic Forum, Ms Roshni Sen said that only 25% of the women are digitally competent which proves the lacuna in the digital awareness amongst women. It has also been researched and found out that 2.7 times men work more than women in digital space. This, according to her, calls for the sustained approach to be implemented so as to bridge the gap between technology and awareness. ICT knowledge, Ms Sen said, needs to be embedded in the course curriculum. She spoke at length about the E-Kanya Programme to promote internet usage and connectivity. The Principal Secretary, Department of Technical Education, Training & Skill Development, Government of West Bengal also spoke about Peer Learning (Tata Trusts and Google India- Sathi Programme) which can be worked with required seriousness. Emphasizing on gender parity, Ms Sen said that women as mentors, coaches, trainers have significant role to play in the handholding of other women which boosts the morale of women on a completely different level.

Virginie Cotreval, Consul General, Consulate General of France in Kolkata, speaking on gender diversity said that women face a lot of difficulty in terms of gender biasness and empowerment and diversity “is the need of the hour and cannot be overlooked under any circumstances”. Speaking about the step taken by the President of France to make gender equality a key focus area wherein there are increasing numbers of Consul Generals and Ambassadors, the Consul General of France in Kolkata said that the work environment provided for women is extremely important. She said that as far as empowerment is concerned, upbringing plays a crucial role in transformation of women and education is the “most vital tool to make life choices.”

Mehul Mohanka, Vice Chairman, West Bengal State Council, CII & Managing Director & Group CEO, Tega Industries Limited in his address highlighted the “gender gaps in top positions in corporates” which is a burning issue and it has prevailed for quite some time now. According to Mr Mohanka, “there aren’t enough women who can handhold, train mentor other women in the same organization.” He advocated for a strong support system in order to bring in more parity. He called for businesses and corporate houses to ensure and showcase profitability, sustainability and gender diversity which can only be done by engaging women in workforce.

Setting the theme of the conference, Ms Sucharita Basu, Vice Chairman, CII Indian Women Network, West Bengal Chapter & Partner AQUILAW said that any barrier is regressive force that always is detrimental to the growth trajectory of the society. Hence connecting, understanding is very important to the inclusive growth. She spoke about the inclusion of all genders which would definitely add value to the economy.

The Conference launched a CII – Aquilaw- ISB whitepaper titled India Inc: The Curious Case of Missing Women at the top. The discussions and debates in the conference centered around handling power and bias culture in workplaces, diversity and the new disrupted world of work and whether #metoo is more of sensationalis

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