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The Female Quotient

Sisterhood in action: Women leading the charge for economic empowerment

3 October 2023 in The Female Quotient

“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses... swapped back and forth and over again.” Michelle Obama, Becoming...

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“Friendships between women, as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses… swapped back and forth and over again.”  

Michelle Obama, Becoming 

In a world where cultural diversity often intersects with economic challenges and gender biases, it’s crucial to recognize and celebrate the stories of women who have risen above these obstacles. Many women leaders have not only shattered stereotypes but also paved the way for others to follow.  

This article sheds light on the challenges and opportunities that women face today, highlighting the importance of economic independence and the support of sisterhood. 

On a global scale, women typically realize just 60% of their full potential, according to the Women’s Empowerment Index (WEI). In comparison to men, women achieve an average of 72% across critical human development aspects, as assessed by the Gender Parity Progress Index (GPPI), highlighting a 28gender disparity.

Culture and diversity 

Culture is the whole complex of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual, and emotional features that characterize a society or a social group. It includes not only arts and letters but also modes of life, the fundamental rights of the human being, value systems, traditions, and beliefs. In India, the concept of culture encompasses a rich tapestry of heritages, languages, and regional variations. 

“Inclusion and respect pave the way for remarkable journeys, turning small-town dreams into global success stories,” said Swati Bhargawa, Co-founder of Cashkaro and Earn Karo. Asking family members to be involved in career decisions is a good idea. “When I first got my scholarship offer from Singapore, I actually invited all the aunties, and uncles to come and give me advice on whether should I go or not go. They said, ‘Hey you must go, it’s such a good idea.’ That actually made all the difference because they felt like they were part of my journey. I did it with inclusion and with respect,” she recalled.

Understanding the cultural threads that empower women is essential, as it helps them navigate and leverage their cultural backgrounds to create a positive impact

Many women understand that the cultural values instilled in their upbringing, such as unity and the role of education, are game changers. At the same time, others note that breaking historical and patriarchal barriers can be necessary to achieve one’s goals. 

“I think the strength of an Indian middle-class household is the values of bringing everyone together. Being able to make it with fewer resources and relying on education are the game changers. Your life can change if you organize yourself and go for it.” Ms. Saloni Bhardwaj, Co-Founder & Chief Transformation Officer, Lotus Petal Foundation

The power of sisterhood 

The power of sisterhood emerged as a recurring theme. Women should be encouraged to be ambitious, and their economic independence should be nurtured. Sisterhood is not just about supporting each other but also about creating a cultural shift where vulnerability is accepted, and resilience is celebrated. 

Economic independence is a cornerstone of women’s empowerment, enabling them to break free from traditional roles and expectations. The power of mentorship and women’s networks cannot be understated, as they provide crucial support and guidance, helping women navigate their journeys to economic self-sufficiency. 

“Economic independence gives you many options so teach your children, especially your girls, to manage money right from an early age.” – Ms. Elsa D’Silva – Founder of Red Dot Foundation

powerful women
Economic empowerment, coupled with the support of sisterhood and mentorship networks, can transform the lives of women

Economic independence is not just about earning money; it’s about claiming respect, realizing dreams, and contributing to a more equitable and inclusive society. The support and mentorship within sisterhoods, whether through communities, organizations, or mentorship groups, play a crucial role in empowering women.  

“Economic independence gives you one very other important thing – a sense of self-worth.” – Ms. Shaili Chopra, Founder, Gytree and SheThePeople Network 

Let us continue to work together, empower one another, and create a future where women can confidently claim all aspects of life. 

This article is based on a panel discussion from The Female Quotient’s (FQ) Equality Lounge sessions at the G20 Summit in New Delhi. IMD is an academic partner of The Female Quotient, which joins forces with companies and leaders to curate experiences, thought leadership, and solutions designed to achieve gender equality in the workplace and beyond. 

Swati Agarwal

Swati Agarwal

Partner, Deloitte India

Geeta Gurnani

Geeta Gurnani

CT, India/South Asia, IBM Technology

Annie John Mathew

Chief Information Officer, Mother Dairy Fruit & Vegetable Pvt Ltd

Ronda Carnegie

Ronda Carnegie

Chief Innovation Officer, The Female Quotient


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