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The status of women in India has been subject to many great changes over the past few millennia. From a largely unknown status in ancient times through the low points of the medieval period, to the promotion of equal rights by many reformers, the history of women in India has been eventful.
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1 History o 1.1 Ancient India o 1.2 Medieval period o 1.3 Historical practices o 1.4 British rule 2 Independent India 3 Timeline 4 Culture 5 Education and economic development o 5.1 Education o 5.2 Workforce participation o 5.3 Land and property rights 6 Crimes against women o 6.1 Sexual harassment o 6.2 Dowry o 6.3 Child marriage o 6.4 Female infanticides and sex selective abortions o 6.5 Domestic violence o 6.6 Trafficking
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7 Other concerns 8 Notable Indian women 9 See also 10 References 11 Bibliography 12 External links
There are very few texts specifically dealing with the role of women; an important exception is the strIdharmapaddhati of Tryambakayajvan, an official at Thanjavur around c.1730. The text compiles strictures on womenly behaviour dating back to the Apastamba sutra (c. 4th c. BCE). The opening verse goes: mukhyo dharmaH smr^tiShu vihito bhartr^shushruShANam hi : the primary duty of women is enjoined to be service to one's husband. where the term shushruShA (lit. "desire to hear") covers a range of meanings from the devotee's homage to god, or the obsequieous service of a slave.
Scholars believe that in ancient India, the women enjoyed equal status with men in all fields of life. However, some others hold contrasting views. Works by ancient Indian grammarians such as Patanjali and Katyayana suggest that women were educated in the early Vedic period Rigvedic verses suggest that the women married at a mature age and were probably free to select their husband. Scriptures such as Rig Veda and Upanishads mention several women sages and seers, notably Gargi and Maitreyi. Some kingdoms in the ancient India had traditions such as nagarvadhu ("bride of the city"). Women competed to win the coveted title of the nagarvadhu. Amrapali is the most famous example of a nagarvadhu. According to studies, women enjoyed equal status and rights during the early Vedic period. However, later (approximately 500 B.C.), the status of women began to decline with the Smritis (esp. Manusmriti) and with the Islamic invasion of Babur and the Mughal empire and later Christianity curtailing women's freedom and rights. Although reformatory movements such as Jainism allowed women to be admitted to the religious order, by and large, the women in India faced confinement and restrictions. The practice of child marriages is believed to have started from around sixth century.
Krishna at Goddesss Radharani's feet The Indian woman's position in the society further deteriorated during the medieval period when Sati, child marriages and a ban on widow remarriages became part of social life in India. The Muslim conquest in the Indian subcontinent brought the purdah practice in the Indian society. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, the Jauhar was practised. In some parts of India, the Devadasis or the temple women were sexually exploited. Polygamy was widely practised esp. among Hindu Kshatriya rulers. In many Muslim families, women were restricted to Zenana areas. In spite of these conditions, some women execeled in the fields of politics, literature, education and religion. Razia Sultana became the only woman monarch to have ever ruled Delhi. The Gond queen Durgavati ruled for fifteen years, before she lost her life in a battle with Mughal emperor Akbar's general Asaf Khan in 1564. Chand Bibi defended Ahmednagar against the mighty Mughal forces of Akbar in 1590s. Jehangir's wife Nur Jehan effectively wielded imperial power and was recognized as the real force behind the Mughal throne. The Mughal princesses Jahanara and Zebunnissa were well-known poets, and also influenced the ruling administration Shivaji's mother, Jijabai was deputed as queen regent, because of her ability as a warrior and an administrator. In South India, many women administered villages, towns, divisions and heralded social and religious institutions. The Bhakti movements tried to restore women's status and questioned some of the forms of oppression. Mirabai, a female saint-poet, was one of the most important Bhakti movement figures. Some other female saint-poets from this period include Akka Mahadevi, Rami Janabai and Lal Ded. Bhakti sects within Hinduism such as the Mahanubhav, Varkari and many others were principle movements within the Hindu fold to openly advocate social justice and equality between men and women. Shortly after the Bhakti movement, Guru Nanak, the first Guru of Sikhs also preached the message of equality between men and women. He advocated that women be allowed to lead religious assemblies; to perform and lead congregational hymn singing called Kirtan
or Bhajan; become members of religious management committees; to lead armies on the battlefield; have equality in marriage, and equality in Amrit (Baptism). Other Sikh Gurus also preached against the discrimination against women. See also: Women in Sikhism
Traditions such as sati, jauhar, and devadasi have been banned and are largely defunct in modern India. However, some cases of these practices are still found in remote parts of India. The purdah is still practiced by many Indian women, and child marriage remains prevalent despite it being an illegal practice, especially under current Indian laws. Sati Sati is an old, largely defunct custom, in which the widow was immolated alive on her husband's funeral pyre. Although the act was supposed to be a voluntary on the widow's part, it is believed to have been sometimes forced on the widow. It was abolished by the British in 1829. There have been around forty reported cases of sati since independence. In 1987, the Roop Kanwar case of Rajasthan led to The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act. Jauhar Jauhar refers to the practice of the voluntary immolation of all the wives and daughters of defeated warriors, in order to avoid capture and consequent molestation by the enemy. The practice was followed by the wives of defeated Rajput rulers, who are known to place a high premium on honour. Purdah Purdah is the practice of requiring women to cover their bodies so as to cover their skin and conceal their form. It imposes restrictions on the mobility of women, it curtails their right to interact freely and it is a symbol of the subordination of women. It does not reflect the religious teachings of either Hinduism or Islam, contrary to common belief, although misconception has occurred due to the ignorance and prejudices of religious leaders of both faiths. Devadasis Devadasi is a religious practice in some parts of southern India, in which women are "married" to a deity or temple. The ritual was well established by the 10th century A.D. In the later period, the illegitimate sexual exploitation of the devadasi's became a norm in some parts of India.
European scholars observed in the 19th century Hindu women are "naturally chaste" and "more virtuous" than other women. During the British Raj, many reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Jyotirao Phule etc. fought for the upliftment of women. While this list might suggest that there was no positive British contribution during the Raj era, that is not entirely so, since missionaries' wives like Martha Mault née Mead and her daughter Eliza Caldwell née Mault are rightly
remembered for pioneering the education and training of girls in south India - a practise that initially met with local resistance, as it flew in the face of tradition. Raja Rammohan Roy's efforts led to the abolition of the Sati practice under Governor-General William Cavendish-Bentinck in 1829. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's crusade for the improvement in condition of widows led to the Widow Remarriage Act of 1856. Many women reformers such as Pandita Ramabai also helped the cause of women upliftment. Kittur Chennamma, the queen of the princely state Kittur in Karnataka, led an armed rebellion against the British in response to the Doctrine of lapse. Abbakka Rani the queen of coastal Karnataka led the defence against invading European armies notably the Portugese in 16th century. Rani Lakshmi Bai, the Queen of Jhansi, led the Indian Rebellion of 1857 against the British. She is now widely considered as a nationalist hero. Begum Hazrat Mahal, the co-ruler of Awadh, was another ruler who led the revolt of 1857. She refused the deals with the British and later retreated to Nepal. The Begums of Bhopal were also few of the notable female rulers during this period. They did not observe purdah and were trained in martial arts. Chandramukhi Basu, Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi were few of the earliest Indian women to obtain educational degrees. In 1917, the first women's delegation met the Secretary of State to demand women's political rights, supported by the Indian National Congress. The All India Women's Education Conference was held in Pune in 1927. In 1929, the Child Marriage Restraint Act was passed, stipulating fourteen as the minimum age of marriage for a girl through the efforts of Mahomed Ali Jinnah. Though Mahatma Gandhi himself married at the age of thirteen, he later urged people to boycott child marriages and called upon the young men to marry the child widows. Women played an important part in India's independence struggle. Some of the famous freedom fighters include Bhikaji Cama, Dr. Annie Besant, Pritilata Waddedar, Vijayalakshmi Pandit, Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, Anjali Ammal, Aruna Asaf Ali, Sucheta Kriplani and Kasturba Gandhi. Other notable names include Muthulakshmi Reddy, Durgabai Deshmukh etc. The Rani of Jhansi Regiment of Subhash Chandra Bose's Indian National Army consisted entirely of women including Captain Lakshmi Sahgal. Sarojini Naidu, a poet and a freedom fighter, was the first Indian woman to become the President of the Indian National Congress and the first woman to become the governor of a state in India.
Women in India now participate in all activities such as education, politics, media, art and culture, service sectors, science and technology, etc. The Constitution of India guarantees to all Indian women equality (Article 14), no discrimination by the State (Article 15(1)), equality of opportunity (Article 16), equal pay for equal work (Article 39(d)). In addition, it allows special provisions to be made by the
State in favour of women and children (Article 15(3)), renounces practices derogatory to the dignity of women (Article 51(A) (e)), and also allows for provisions to be made by the State for securing just and humane conditions of work and for maternity relief. (Article 42). The feminist activism in India picked up momentum during later 1970s. One of the first national level issues that brought the women's groups together was the Mathura rape case. The acquittal of policemen accused of raping a young girl Mathura in a police station, led to a wide-scale protests in 1979–1980. The protests were widely covered in the national media, and forced the Government to amend the Evidence Act, the Criminal Procedure Code and the Indian Penal Code and introduce the category of custodial rape.  Female activists united over issues such as female infanticide, gender bias, women health, and female literacy. Since alcoholism is often associated with violence against women in India, many women groups launched anti-liquor campaigns in Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh and other states. Many Indian Muslim women have questioned the fundamental leaders' interpretation of women's rights under the Shariat law and have criticized the triple talaq system. In 1990s, grants from foreign donor agencies enabled the formation of new womenoriented NGOs. Self-help groups and NGOs such as Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have played a major role in women's rights in India. Many women have emerged as leaders of local movements. For example, Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan. The Government of India declared 2001 as the Year of Women's Empowerment (Swashakti). The National Policy For The Empowerment Of Women came was passed in 2001. In 2006, the case of a Muslim rape victim called Imrana was highlighted in the media. Imrana was raped by her father-in-law. The pronouncement of some Muslim clerics that Imrana should marry her father-in-law led to widespread protests and finally Imrana's father-in-law was given a prison term of 10 years, The verdict was welcomed by many women's groups and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
The steady change in their position can be highlighted by looking at what has been achieved by women in the country:
1879:John Elliot Drinkwater Bethune established the Bethune School in 1849, which developed into the Bethune College in 1879, thus becoming the first women's college in India. 1883: Chandramukhi Basu and Kadambini Ganguly became the first female graduates of India and the British Empire.
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1886: Kadambini Ganguly and Anandi Gopal Joshi became the first women from India to be trained in Western medicine. 1905: Suzanne RD Tata becomes the first Indian woman to drive a car. 1916: The first women's university, SNDT Women's University, was founded on June 2, 1916 by the social reformer Dhondo Keshav Karve with just five students. 1917: Annie Besant became the first female president of the Indian National Congress. 1919: For her distinguished social service, Pandita Ramabai became the first Indian woman to be awarded the Kaiser-i-Hind by the British Raj. 1925: Sarojini Naidu became the first Indian born female president of the Indian National Congress 1927: The All India Women's Conference was founded. 1944: Asima Chatterjee became the first Indian woman to be conferred the Doctorate of Science by an Indian university 1947: On August 15, 1947, following independence, Sarojini Naidu became the governor of the United Provinces, and in the process became India's first woman governor. 1951: Prem Mathur becomes the first Indian women commercial pilot of the Deccan Airways 1953: Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit became the first woman (and first Indian) president of the United Nations General Assembly 1959: Anna Chandy becomes the first Indian woman judge of a High Court (Kerala High Court) 1963:Sucheta Kriplani became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, the first woman to hold that position in any Indian state. 1966: Captain Durga Banerjee becomes the first Indian woman pilot of the state airline, Indian Airlines. 1966: Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay wins Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership. 1966: Indira Gandhi becomes the first woman Prime Minister of India 1970: Kamaljit Sandhu becomes the first Indian woman to win a Gold in the Asian Games 1972: Kiran Bedi becomes the first female recruit to join the Indian Police Service. 1979: Mother Teresa wins the Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Indian female citizen to do so. 1984: On May 23, Bachendri Pal became the first Indian woman to climb Mount Everest. 1989: Justice M. Fathima Beevi becomes the first woman judge of the Supreme Court of India. 1997: Kalpana Chawla becomes the first India-born woman to go into space. 1992: Priya Jhingan becomes the first lady cadet to join the Indian Army (later commissioned on March 6, 1993) 1994: Harita Kaur Deol becomes the first Indian woman pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF), on a solo flight.
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2000: Karnam Malleswari became the first Indian woman to win an Olympic medal (bronze medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics at Sydney) 2002: Lakshmi Sahgal became the first Indian woman to run for the post of President of India. 2004: Punita Arora became the first woman in the Indian Army to don the highest rank of Lieutenant General. 2007: Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak became the first Indian woman to be appointed as University Professor at an Ivy League university (Columbia University). 2007: Pratibha Patil becomes the first woman President of India. 2008: Renu Khator became the first India born woman to lead a major American university, the University of Houston. 2009: Meira Kumar became the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha, the lower house in Indian Parliament
Sari (a single piece of a long cloth wound around the body) and salwar kameez are worn by women all over India. Bindi is part of the women's make-up. Traditionally, the red bindi (or sindhur) was worn only by the married Hindu women, but now it has become a part of women's fashion. Rangoli (or Kolam) is a traditional art very popular among Indian women.
Education and economic development
According to 1992-93 figures, only 9.2% of the households in India were female-headed. However, approximately 35% of the households below the poverty line were found to be female-headed.
Though it is gradually rising, the female literacy rate in India is lower than the male literacy rate. Compared to boys, far fewer girls are enrolled in the schools, and many of them drop out. According to the National Sample Survey Data of 1997, only the states of Kerala and Mizoram have approached universal female literacy rates. According to majority of the scholars, the major factor behind the improved social and economic status of women in Kerala is literacy. Under Non-Formal Education programme, about 40% of the centers in states and 10% of the centers in UTs are exclusively reserved for females. As of 2000, about 0.3 million NFE centers were catering to about 7.42 million children, out of which about 0.12 million were exclusively for girls. In urban India, girls are nearly at par with the boys in terms of education. However, in rural India girls continue to be less educated than the boys.
According to a 1998 report by U.S. Department of Commerce, the chief barrier to female education in India are inadequate school facilities (such as sanitary facilities), shortage of female teachers and gender bias in curriculum (majority of the female characters being depicted as weak and helpless).
Contrary to the common perception, a large percent of women in India work. The National data collection agencies accept the fact that there is a serious under-estimation of women's contribution as workers. However, there are far fewer women in the paid workforce than there are men. In urban India Women have impressive number in the workforce. As an example at software industry 30% of the workforce is female. They are at par with their male counter parts in terms of wages, position at the work place. In rural India, agriculture and allied industrial sectors employ as much as 89.5% of the total female labour. In overall farm production, women's average contribution is estimated at 55% to 66% of the total labour. According to a 1991 World Bank report, women accounted for 94% of total employment in dairy production in India. Women constitute 51% of the total employed in forest-based small-scale enterprises. One of the most famous female business success stories is the Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad. In 2006, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, who started Biocon - one of India's first biotech companies, was rated India's richest woman. Lalita Gupte and Kalpana Morparia (both were the only businesswomen in India who made the list of the Forbes World's Most Powerful Women), run India's second-largest bank, ICICI Bank.
Land and property rights
In most Indian families , women do not own any property in their own names, and do not get a share of parental property. Due to weak enforcement of laws protecting them, women continue to have little access to land and property. In fact, some of the laws discriminate against women, when it comes to land and property rights. The Hindu personal laws of mid-1956s (applied to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) gave women rights to inheritance. However, the sons had an independent share in the ancestral property, while the daughters' shares were based on the share received by their father. Hence, a father could effectively disinherit a daughter by renouncing his share of the ancestral property, but the son will continue to have a share in his own right. Additionally, married daughters, even those facing marital harassment, had no residential rights in the ancestral home. After amendment of Hindu laws in 2005, now women in have been provided the same status as that of men. In 1986, the Supreme Court of India ruled that Shah Bano, an old divorced Muslim woman was eligible for maintenance money. However, the decision was vociferously opposed by fundamentalist Muslim leaders, who alleged that the court was interfering in
their personal law. The Union Government subsequently passed the Muslim Women's (Protection of Rights Upon Divorce) Act. Similarly, the Christian women have struggled over years for equal rights of divorce and succession. In 1994, all the churches, jointly with women's organisations, drew up a draft law called the Christian Marriage and Matrimonial Causes Bill. However, the government has still not amended the relevant laws.
Crimes against women
Police records show high incidence of crimes against women in India. The National Crime Records Bureau reported in 1998 that the growth rate of crimes against women would be higher than the population growth rate by 2010. Earlier, many cases were not registered with the police due to the social stigma attached to rape and molestation cases. Official statistics show that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported crimes against women.
Half of the total number of crimes against women reported in 1990 related to molestation and harassment at the workplace. Eve teasing is a euphemism used for sexual harassment or molestation of women by men. Many activists blame the rising incidents of sexual harassment against women on the influence of "Western culture". In 1987, The Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act was passed to prohibit indecent representation of women through advertisements or in publications, writings, paintings, figures or in any other manner. In 1997, in a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court of India took a strong stand against sexual harassment of women in the workplace. The Court also laid down detailed guidelines for prevention and redressal of grievances. The National Commission for Women subsequently elaborated these guidelines into a Code of Conduct for employers.
Main articles: Dowry, Dowry death, and Dowry law in India In 1961, the Government of India passed the Dowry Prohibition Act, making the dowry demands in wedding arrangements illegal. However, many cases of dowry-related domestic violence, suicides and murders have been reported. In the 1980s, numerous such cases were reported. In 1985, the Dowry Prohibition (maintenance of lists of presents to the bride and bridegroom) rules were framed. According to these rules, a signed list of presents given at the time of the marriage to the bride and the bridegroom should be maintained. The list should contain a brief description of each present, its approximate value, the
name of whoever has given the present and his/her relationship to the person. However, such rules are hardly enforced. A 1997 report claimed that at least 5,000 women die each year because of dowry deaths, and at least a dozen die each day in 'kitchen fires' thought to be intentional. The term for this is "bride burning" and is criticized within India itself. Amongst the urban educated, such dowry abuse has reduced considerably.
Child marriage has been traditionally prevalent in India and continues to this day. Historically, young girls would live with their parents till they reached puberty. In the past, the child widows were condemned to a life of great agony, shaving heads, living in isolation, and shunned by the society. Although child marriage was outlawed in 1860, it is still a common practice. According to UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children-2009” report, 47% of India's women aged 20–24 were married before the legal age of 18, with 56% in rural areas. The report also showed that 40% of the world's child marriages occur in India.
Female infanticides and sex selective abortions
Main article: Sex-selective abortion and infanticide India has a highly masculine sex ratio, the chief reason being that many women die before reaching adulthood. Tribal societies in India have a less masculine sex ratio than all other caste groups. This, in spite of the fact that tribal communities have far lower levels of income, literacy and health facilities. It is therefore suggested by many experts, that the highly masculine sex ratio in India can be attributed to female infanticides and sex-selective abortions. All medical tests that can be used to determine the sex of the child have been banned in India, due to incidents of these tests being used to get rid of unwanted female children before birth. Female infanticide (killing of girl infants) is still prevalent in some rural areas. The abuse of the dowry tradition has been one of the main reasons for sexselective abortions and female infanticides in India.
The incidents of domestic violence are higher among the lower Socio-Economic Classes (SECs). The Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act, 2005 came into force on October 26, 2006.
The Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act was passed in 1956. However many cases of trafficking of young girls and women have been reported. These women are either forced into prostitution, domestic work or child labor.
Health The average female life expectancy today in India is low compared to many countries, but it has shown gradual improvement over the years. In many families, especially rural ones, the girls and women face nutritional discrimination within the family, and are anaemic and malnourished. The maternal mortality in India is the second highest in the world. Only 42% of births in the country are supervised by health professionals. Most women deliver with help from women in the family who often lack the skills and resources to save the mother's life if it is in danger. According to UNDP Human Development Report (1997), 88% of pregnant women (age 15-49) were found to be suffering from anemia. Family planning The average woman in rural areas of India has little or no control over her reproductivity. Women, particularly women in rural areas, do not have access to safe and self-controlled methods of contraception. The public health system emphasises permanent methods like sterilisation, or long-term methods like IUDs that do not need follow-up. Sterilization accounts for more than 75% of total contraception, with female sterilisation accounting for almost 95% of all sterilisations.
Notable Indian women
See also: Category:Indian women and List of Indian film actresses Arts and entertainment Singers and vocalists such as M.S. Subbulakshmi, Gangubai Hangal, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle are widely revered in India. Many actresses such as Aishwarya Rai. Anjolie Ela Menon is a famous painter. Sports Although the general sports scenario in India is not very good, some Indian women have made notable achievements in the field. Some of the famous female sportspersons in Indian include P. T. Usha, J. J. Shobha (athletics), Kunjarani Devi (weightlifting), Diana Edulji (cricket), Saina Nehwal (badminton) , Koneru Hampi (chess) and Sania Mirza (tennis). Karnam Malleswari (weightlifter), is the only Indian woman to have won an Olympic medal (Bronze medal in 2000).
Politics Through the Panchayat Raj institutions, over a million women have actively entered political life in India. As per the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendment Acts, all local elected bodies reserve one-third of their seats for women. Although the percentages of women in various levels of political activity has risen considerably, women are still under-represented in governance and decisionmaking positions. Some of the notable women leaders in India include Indira Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, Sheila Dikshit, Jayalalitha, Uma Bharati, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee Sindhu Joyand Sonia Gandhi. On July 25, 2007 the country's ever first woman president Pratibha Patil was sworn in. Literature Sudha Murthy, Sarojini Naidu, Chandabai, Subhadra Kumari Chauhan, Mahadevi Varma, Shivani, Anita Desai, Arundhati Roy, Shashi Deshpande, Shobha De, Kiran Desai, Jhumpa Lahiri, etc. are some of the notable female Indian authors. Religion Mata Amritanandamayi, Mother Meera, Mate Mahadevi Other fields Shahnaz Husain is one of the popular Indian beauticians and entrepreneur. Mirudhubashini Govindarajan is a women's healthcare specialist. Opportunities and challenges for women in business
November 2001: Empirical evidence shows that women contribute significantly to the running of family businesses mostly in the form of unpaid effort and skills. The value of this effort is underestimated both by the families that take it for granted and in academic studies. On the other hand, many of the enterprises defined as being run by women (that is, enterprises in which women hold the controlling share) are in fact run in their names by men who control operations and decision making. Programmes meant to reach women entrepreneurs can succeed only if they take note of this paradox as well as of the familial and social conditioning that reduces the confidence, independence and mobility of women. Programmes for encouraging entrepreneurship among women are doomed to fail or at best to succeed partially when taken up in isolation. This is because entrepreneurship by definition implies being in control of one's life and activities. It is precisely this independence that society has denied to women all along. Promoting entrepreneurship for women will require an even greater reversal of traditional attitudes than the mere creation of jobs for women would. This does not mean that we should wait for societal change to take place first. But it does imply that the programme should go beyond subsidies and credit allocation to attitudinal changes, group formation, training and other support services. Training in entrepreneurial attitudes should start at the high school level through well-designed courses which build confidence through behavioral games. This exercise would illustrate practical application of the
academic knowledge being imparted regarding management (financial, legal, etc.) of an enterprise. This curriculum should include simple project work designed to give hands on experience of assessing the marketability of a commodity or a service. EDI Ahmedabad appears to be running a programme on these lines in Gujarat which could be replicated elsewhere. While making this compulsory for girls at the high school level, however, care must be taken to ensure quality and the syllabus should be reviewed continuously on the basis of the feedback received using professional inputs. To release women from the constraints on mobility that society imposes on them throughout their lives, high school girls should be compulsorily taught to cycle. There is proof that increased mobility contributes immensely to raising confidence levels. An additional measure that may increase mobility and confidence is to compulsorily train girls also in the methods and techniques of self defence. Training in Skills Skill development is being done in women's polytechnics and industrial training institutes. Under various schemes like the World Bank sponsored programme to upgrade polytechnics, separate institutes have been set up for women. From the inception these should have 100 percent quality hostel facilities with adequate security arrangements, as this is a major cause for poor occupancy and parental disinclination to send their daughters to such institutes. Under no pretext should institutes set up exclusively for women be converted to men's institutes. The course design should keep in mind the special needs of women, such as their preference to work from their homes, which would enable them to also fulfill their household responsibilities. This should not, however, result in mechanically restricting them to low technology linked skills traditionally believed to be suitable for women. Several hi-tech functions with substantial value addition and good profitability could also be undertaken within homes and the courses should be imaginatively and innovatively designed. The common practice of selecting occupations for women on the basis that women are only supplementary income providers and, therefore, do not require a full day's wage for a full day's work has resulted in their large-scale exploitation. Activities in which women are trained should focus on their marketability and profitability, and not be routinely restricted to making pickles and garments. A high power and professionally involved committee must constantly review the courses and the curriculum on the basis of evaluation studies and market developments. In addition to skill development, these institutes should also provide practical management inputs. A major hurdle for trained women is the initiation into independent professional work. Families routinely provide financial and emotional • Neighbourhood support for sons that they would never extend to daughters. Parents and entrepreneurs daughters together need to be convinced that the skills learned in the • Gender revolution in dairy polytechnics could provide them with profitable occupations. In women's • Charting their own course institutes, therefore, there is a strong case for introducing an additional year of training when the pupils who have been taught skills are put to work in training-cum-production workshops, whose produce is sold and income earned. Appropriate training is still the key to a successful programme to develop entrepreneurship among women. There are funds available from several sources; finding effective trainers is the greater problem. NGOs like RUDSET in Karnataka have succeeded in achieving reasonably high success levels, but others including governmental bodies have still not reached these levels. Continuous monitoring and improvement of training programmes should eventually spread the cult of entrepreneurship among young women. Any programme for women entrepreneurs is vulnerable to abuses by individuals who are not entitled to the benefits. These individuals could exploit the programme by using the truly deserving beneficiaries as fronts for their personal interests. This practice cannot be curbed by exhortation or control; women beneficiaries must themselves be induced to claim greater decision-making authority in family businesses, whether run in their names or not. This can only come from greater confidence induced by greater knowledge and experience of dealing with the external world and from moving with other successful women entrepreneurs. All this can be achieved in a training environment, especially one in which the woman is distanced from the normal restrictive family environment and is taught to recognise her own psychological needs and express them. To encourage more passive women entrepreneurs whose menfolk run businesses in their names, and
to actively involve the women in their businesses, we must aim at covering all the women who claim to run 'women's enterprises' in training programmes. Repeated exposure to women who are successfully managing enterprises might encourage some women who are passive now to involve themselves to a greater extent in the entreprises to which they have lent their name. The availability of finance and other facilities like industrial sheds and land for women entrepreneurs is often constrained by restrictions that do not account for practical realities. Funding is not often available for activities in which women are predominantly involved. The field of marketing provides an example. Women of all income levels are engaged in marketing activity from vegetable vending to the sale of more sophisticated items. There is no effective institutional channel to make money available for this activity. A look at the various schemes available reveals that under the Integrated Rural Development Programme (IRDP), finance is not denied for setting up a shop, and the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana (PMRY) extends assistance for trading activity including simple trade finance. IRDP is confined to rural areas and PMRY covers urban areas. Both schemes are limited to persons with very low income levels. The greatest constraint is that availability of funds is very low since the schemes operate solely through banks which are extremely reluctant to extend trade-related finance to small customers because of the risks and operational costs. State finance corporations and financing institutions are not permitted by statute to extend purely trade related finance not linked to asset creation. Women's development corporations, however, are fully aware of the significant presence of women in this area but have only a catalytic role in financing. They must necessarily work through normal channels if they have to gain access to open-ended financing. Some schemes have tried to get around this problem by offering working capital assistance if it is supported by group formation through NGOs, banks or government. This, however, is limited to very low income groups. That is, a woman or any small business has no access to institutionalised trade finance and must operate only through very expensive informal channels. Yet it is perfectly possible to extend the usual institutional interest rates to this area by taking suitable collateral (after all, the alternative is for loanees to pay exorbitant rates to private moneylenders) or by progressively building up collateral from earnings over time and by initially working in regional clusters to facilitate operations. The effort could yield growth in accounts and deposits and other businesses too. Any move to make banks and institutions enter this area is likely to benefit women more than men. The teaching profession constitutes a large component of the service sector, and employs large numbers of women. Yet funding is not extended by financial institutions or banks for setting up, equipping or running teaching institutions. Educational institutions can be justified on purely commercial grounds since they have today become crucial determinants in companies deciding to locate themselves in particular places. Software personnel are notoriously unenthusiastic about working in cities where high quality school level educational facilities are not available. It thus makes both economic and social sense to emphasise funding for creating good schools.
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Priority to Women Infrastructure to set up industries is provided in the form of industrial plots and sheds by state run agencies. Apart from allotting units to women entrepreneurs on priority basis, it is desirable to provide amenities particularly required by them in industrial areas. Easy mobility and closeness to homes and child care facilities are sought by both women entrepreneurs and workers. Regular internal bus services are essential in industrial areas. Common creches run with the involvement of NGOs and industrial area associations must be compulsorily provided as a part of common amenities, since the legal requirement of each unit to provide such facilities is circumvented by keeping the number of women employees below the prescribed limit. In large cities where land prices have shot up, fledgling women entrepreneurs find it difficult to commute long distances to outlying areas which are poorly connected. There is a case for allotment of space on a temporary basis in multistoreyed complexes to enable such persons to try out their projects. But as such space is in great demand, it must be available only for genuine, serious cases. It would also require strict enforcement of a periodic rotation of its beneficiaries. As regards allotting sheds or land on priority basis or at concessional rates, in the case of women, the scope for misuse is much higher than in the case of any other disadvantaged group. For this reason, we must be cautious about making special allotments especially in highly sought after areas. If such a scheme is inevitable, precautionary measures should be built in screening committees to evaluate whether the beneficiary is indeed going to be in full charge of the enterprise. (Men should under no circumstances be permitted to appear or represent women before the committee). Training in running an enterprise in quality approved institutions should be insisted upon as a precondition for such priority allottees. (Let us hope this does not encourage the mushrooming of training institutions for women entrepreneurs as a profitable sideline by unqualified and uncommitted persons). The same conditions could be applied to judge eligibility for special investment subsidies or margin money facilities being extended for women. Financing Difficulties Credit is available for women through a plethora of schemes but there are still bottlenecks and gaps. The multiplicity of schemes is not adequately listed nor is there networking among agencies. As a result, clients approaching one institution are not made aware of the best option for their requirements. A closely integrated data bank into which all concerned agencies are plugged is a real need. The Karnataka Women's Corporation has plans to set up a resource centre, which apart from acting as a data bank, will also provide counselling and prepare research and evaluation studies. Group financing is being extended through banks operating with NABARD refinance, under the IRDP and the training and production centre programme implemented mainly through Mahila Samajas of the
Karnataka Women's Development Corporation. They concentrate on group formation and extend working capital grants to groups to encourage them to break the exorbitant debt burdens already in existence within the community for the beneficiaries. At the second stage, the beneficiaries move into individual or group activity with bank loans extended on group guarantees. Group formation has proved remarkably successful in empowering women and introducing them to income generating activity, animators and introducing them to income generating activity through bank loans. Such schemes need intensive monitoring and effort at the microlevel and are difficult to replicate. A widely utilised scheme was the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI)'s Mahila Udyam Nidhi which covers projects up to Rs 10 lakh and provides 15 percent margin money and a service charge of 1 percent (the promoters' contribution is only 10 percent). This has been supplanted by the liberalised National Equity Fund scheme which covers entrepreneurs, where the margin money component has been fixed at 25 percent. A lower promoter's contribution is not desirable as it will reduce the entrepreneur's commitment to the success of the enterprise. In any case, for loans up to Rs 50,000, no promoter's contributions is being insisted upon. For larger loans, no margin money assistance is generally available and women entrepreneurs have to follow norms applicable to others, that is to provide between 17 and 25 percent of the cost of fixed assets out of own resources. There is a case for setting up a fund for the purpose since irrespective of the name in which family assets are held (surprisingly, quite a bit of family property is held in the name of women) women do not enjoy the authority to pledge, dispose of or otherwise encumber these assets, and families are notoriously wary of using them to support enterprises for the women in the family. But selection of beneficiaries should be rigorously done with all the precautions listed above to prevent the scheme from being hijacked by enterprises controlled by men. The same situation applies in the case of collateral. There is a justified widespread demand for a waiver or reduction of collateral for women entrepreneurs because of the above difficulties. This has two implications. A generalised system of exemption of collateral for women entrepreneurs will definitely result in a proliferation of "women's" enterprises to take advantage of the facility. And bankers will find the open-ended benefit risky and tend to restrict financing under this scheme. This would be counterproductive for our purpose. One practice, though not very satisfactory, that has been introduced in the Karnataka State Financial Corporation is again a screening approach through a committee of representatives from concerned agencies to ensure that the beneficiary is indeed capable of running the project and is genuinely in need of relaxation of this condition. But larger coverage is possible only with the backing of a special fund created for the purpose, as done by Women's World Banking for example. In the area of guarantees, several humiliating habits have become ingrained in financial institutions and banks. They tend to depend on male members accompanying women entrepreneurs for finalising projects proposed by women and almost invariably insist on guarantees from males in the family. These degrading procedures should be scrapped and guarantees sought for any entrepreneur, male or female, only where the entrepreneur on record is totally unfamiliar with the project (in which case the guarantee of the person with expertise may be taken) or has inadequate net worth. The second condition will not necessarily affect women alone since it is my experience that assets are often held in the names of women. Repeated gender sensitisation programmes should be held to train financiers to treat women with dignity and respect as persons in their own right. Confidence in Marketing
A major area of difficulty for women entrepreneurs is marketing. Several initiatives have been put in place to remedy this defect. At the initial stages women prefer to be locked into programmes which ensure almost total marketing support, since they seldom have the time or the confidence to seek out and develop markets. Even when they are otherwise in control of an enterprise, they often depend on males of the family in this area. Marketing means mobility and confidence in dealing with the external world, both of
which women have been discouraged from developing by social conditioning. Women's development corporations try to hold frequent exhibitions and set up marketing outlets to provide space for the display of products made by women. Some NGOs have marketing vans. However, such arrangements are not adequately publicised and quality control is inadequate with no arrangement for adaptation to market requirements or consumer tastes. The long term strategy should in any case be to inculcate marketing skills in women entrepreneurs to enable them to produce for the market. This means that a market survey to select the product should be made part of all training and advice given to expose enterprises to markets and make them responsive to them. Professional marketing expertise is essential to identify marketing channels for the products made by women entrepreneurs. Industrial estates could also provide marketing outlets for the display and sale of products made by women. Unfamiliarity with the external world and lack of ease in moving around in it greatly hamper women when it comes to dealing with a multiplicity of agencies in setting up or running a business. It is here that, despite professional competence and training, women are forced to turn to men for assistance. An experiment that was tried out in the Karnataka State Financial Corporation has received positive feedback. A Women Entrepreneur's Guidance Cell set up to handle the various problems of women entrepreneurs working directly under top management has proved a focal point for monitoring and assisting projects run by women. Similar cells in the District Industries Centres and Single Window Agencies could be extremely useful in assisting women. But they must on no account degenerate into routine departments and should be staffed with the most committed trained personnel and given continuing and total support by the head of the office. A final area of concern in the case of women entrepreneurs is stagnation in their growth. This is due to various reasons like the demands of household duties, mobility problems and the need to expand space and staff. It is also often due to psychological causes like lack of self-confidence and fear of success (women who succeed often face hostility and resentment within their family circles). The necessary managerial and technical skills are also lacking, which is a barrier to the growth of women's businesses. Training and counselling on a large scale of existing successful women entrepreneurs who seem to have plateaued is a necessity. Surprisingly, very little attention is being paid to this requirement by any agency, governmental or voluntary. Counselling through the aid of committed NGOs, psychologists, managerial experts and technical personnel could result in the development of appropriate strategies and enable growth.
WCC Eighth Assembly
WOMEN’S CHALLENGES: INTO THE 21st CENTURY
An agenda for action
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In 1988 the World Council of Churches launched the Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women as a ten-year programme offered to the churches. It was to provide a time for the churches to look at their structures, their teachings and practices with a commitment to the full participation of women. It was an opportunity for the churches to reflect on the lives of
women in society and to stand in courageous solidarity with all women. Ecumenical Team Visits or "Living Letters" were sent to the churches around the world at the mid-Decade point to affirm the achievements made and to challenge the churches to move forward in their commitments to women. The story the "living letters" brought back described with great enthusiasm the solidarity among women and the love and commitment of women to the churches. But it also pointed to the unfinished agenda - the many unresolved questions and concerns of women. This document records some of those challenges and calls on the churches for their continued solidarity beyond 1998. ...and in that dry land, endless as a desert, we rediscovered a source, pouring out fresh water. Gathered around the water we danced with joy; no more forgotten, invisible, suffocated, but blossoming and creating. Opening gates, raising our voices. Moving walls, building on ruins. And many more came from within the shadows. We celebrated our survival. We welcomed each other into visibility. But the water does not meet us only in the depth of the source; water is running down our cheeks. Tears caused by a violent hand. Silent tears. Tears caused by unjust systems and practices. Memories and experiences - all that has happened and all that still goes on... breaks out into anger. All this can no longer be! There has to be change! Therefore we speak again... The Ecumenical Decade of the Churches in Solidarity with Women is grounded in the biblical truth of the common blessing of women and men in creation (Gen.1:27) and the common responsibility they share for nurturing and serving the church and the world. Our theologies are shaped by biblical words, historical traditions of the Church, our sacramental experiences and through the power of the Holy Spirit. In all of these, we affirm that equality between women and men is at the core. Throughout the scriptures, in spite of the very patriarchal times, women’s witness was strong, and through acts of faith and daring assertions, women broadened the mission and ministry of Jesus! The Bible records inspiring examples of women’s spirituality - and God blessed them! The first baptismal liturgies faithfully kept this vision when they affirmed that "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:28). Christian history has marginalised or has, on occasion, even ignored this central teaching. So the affirmation of "the discipleship of equals" is regretfully still largely unrealised. In fact the Bible has been used to legitimise the marginalisation and exclusion of women from many spheres. The Decade has offered us a fresh opportunity to become a community of women and men. We long for a church where women are empowered to minister and serve as well as to live violence-free lives, unrestricted by traditional, often culturally imposed, gender role expectations and assumptions. Today, we are called to recognise and welcome women and men as full partners on the journey towards a just world order where no one will be excluded. The Decade has provided an opportunity for women and men of faith - the Churches - to be in solidarity with all women in church and society, to overcome the years of oppression that millions of the women in our world daily experience. The church is called to conversion so as to stand in active solidarity with all women. This calls for a sometimes radical reordering of aspects of the life of the church, rooted in a reinterpretation and reconstruction of those practices and teachings that discriminate against women. As we move beyond the Ecumenical Decade and into the 21st century, we bring to the churches the following challenges, which have been identified by women, for action: • On economic justice: Recognising the context of growing globalisation of economies and the concurrent liberalisation of markets, individualisation and cuts in social
services/welfare, and the fact that women (and children too) are the most directly affected by these trends, we call on the churches and the ecumenical movement to: o speak out clearly about these trends which exclude whole nations and peoples; o demand a cancellation of internal and external debts of the poorest nations, as part of the Jubilee challenge, and to take steps to ensure that the resources so saved are used to improve the quality of life of the poor, especially women and children; o work for changes in laws that exclude women from property and other rights; o promote demilitarisation and challenge the links between militarisation, the arms trade and global economic institutions; establish specific programmes/desks in all churches for economic issues; include intentionally gender perspectives in analysis and study; o in order to prepare women for leadership, establish more scholarships for them; o ensure equal salaries for women and men in church institutions and structures; o break the link between the exploitation of the earth and economic growth, and share the responsibility for the care of the earth and all of creation. On participation: Participation of all its members is an ethical imperative for the church. To this end we call on the churches to: o provide more theological training opportunities for women; o include in theological education/courses the theological voices and contributions of women and other socially excluded groups; o look again at the liturgical life and ministry of the church in order to incorporate the experiences and spiritual gifts of women; o develop gender policies for all churches and organisations; o provide gender sensitivity training for all male and female clergy and leaders of the churches and church-run institutions, at all levels of administration of the churches and ecumenical organisations; o encourage women to take on leadership roles and support them so that they can offer new understandings of power and ways of using it; o provide support structures for women clergy and other women working in the churches; o strengthen young women’s networks and organisations and develop instruments to incorporate the contributions of young women; o ensure equal participation of women and other excluded groups in all levels of the life of the church with specially set quotas, where necessary; o reinstate the ancient tradition of ordination of women to the diaconate. On racism: Recognising that new forms of racism and ethnic tensions are emerging in all parts of the world, and that racism and xenophobia have links with economic exploitation, cultural justifications and exclusion of millions in our world, we call on the churches and the ecumenical movement to: o strengthen where present, and initiate where non-existent, programmes that tackle racism and xenophobia, including within them a strong educational component; o develop a new inclusive vocabulary and a new analysis of racism and xenophobia, taking into account that it exists even within the life of the churches, and that sometimes the language of liturgy and theology and the images and symbols we use in the churches reinforce racial prejudices; o develop new ways of celebrating the diversity and differences among us as God’s gift to the world and develop educational instruments to strengthen this vision; o provide a strong voice of solidarity with Indigenous peoples all over the world and support the women of Indigenous communities in their struggles for dignity, sovereignity and land rights;
strengthen and support the SISTERS (Sisters in Struggle to Eliminate Racism and Sexism) network at the regional and national level and involve all church women’s networks in doing this. On violence against women: Recognising the increasing violence in our societies and particularly the violence against women, we call on the churches to denounce the various forms of violence, culturally sanctioned or not, against women inside and outside the church. We call on the church to declare that violence against women is a sin. We urge them to take the side of the victim instead of protecting the agressor, and to offer pastoral counselling that targets a concrete improvement in the survivor’s life situation instead of simply preaching patience, silence and submission. To this end we call on the churches to: o deconstruct the often used theological explanations and justifications of violence; o reconstruct a new theological response to be strongly affirmed by church leaders and preachers; o provide a caring and safe atmosphere for women to be able to speak out fearlessly about the violence they experience; o provide the space and atmosphere for open discussions on human sexuality and affirm the right of women to make responsible sexual choices; o find ways to expose cases of clergy sexual abuse and abuse by other congregational members, and use appropriate administrative decision making processes which include the active presence of women, to deal with the perpetrators and survivors of violence; o develop pastoral care for victims and congregations where clergy sexual abuse takes place; o develop disciplinary as well as pastoral responses to abusers; o focus education in congregations on male violence and male sexuality and encourage the formation of men’s groups to discuss these issues; o recognise violence against women as human rights violations and affirm the new definitions of human rights that women bring, based on their experiences of violence in their own contexts; o denounce the rape of women and girls in any circumstances including the use of rape as a weapon of war and to challenge governments to ensure the safety of women and children in times of war and conflict (as per the Geneva Conventions). o
We call on the churches and the ecumenical movement, particularly the World Council of Churches, to set in place implementing and monitoring instruments and programmes to ensure that the above concerns and recommendations are fulfilled. ... and the source is still there, refreshing water, confirming our being, recognising and welcoming. The water, it keeps flowing, opening new paths, cleansing, healing, connecting, nourishing the roots of our dreams ...it never runs dry.
How Women Can Overcome Challenges in Business and the Workplace
By Lahle Wolfe, About.com Guide
See More About:
challenges of women in business
womens issues work life balance
Women business owners and working women face certain challenges and obstacles that men do not. Working women who have children experience even more demands on time, energy and resources, and women face gender discrimination in business and on the job. But women are not less successful than men, in fact, statistics show that women are starting businesses at more than twice the rate of all other businesses. Women are resourceful, and able to succeed, despite many challenges. Here are ways that women are overcoming the challenges facing women in business. 1. Finding the Right Work-Life Balance For Busy Working Women Many women struggle with finding better ways to balance work and life and often this guilt comes from outside sources like pressure from husbands, family, and friends. Some (wealthier) women opt to travel by private jet to have more time with their families, while others, like billionaire and super entrepreneur Marilyn Carlson Nelson believe that women should not feel guilty about having a passion for work.
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3 Guilt Traps Mompreneurs Should Avoid Falling Into Take Your Child to Work How to Work With Your Spouse Women Use Corporate Jets to Spend More Time with Family Marilyn Carlson on Leadership, Business, and Work-Life Balance
Female Political PioneersMore women are serving in elected & appointed offices in the governmentwww.america.gov Executive Mgmt Program inBusiness Management from IMT Gzb for 1+ Yr Working Executive. Enrol!NIITimperia.com/Businessmgmt In Need of Search Skills?Find Everything You Search For! 1 Hour, 15 Lessons, 2 Guideswww.LearnThinkFind.com 2. Overcoming Gender Discrimination Against Women in Business Gender lines are drawn early, and exclusions for women continue throughout adulthood. Not only are women discriminated against in private businesses, but also by the Federal government. Gender bias begins in elementary school continuing on into college. Even though more women hold higher degrees than men, they are still passed over for jobs that go to lesseducated and less-qualified males, and they also receive less compensation than men for the same job.
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Gender Discrimination Against Women: From Cradle to CEO Women Are More Vulnerable Than Men During a Recession Humor in the Workplace and Sexual Harassment
3. Women's Business Issues and Political Challenges There are laws that protect women, and laws that hurt women in the workplace and it is important for women to consider how far we have come in legislative changes - and how far we have to go.
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John McCain and Sarah Palin on Women's Issues Barack Obama and Joe Biden on Women's Issues H.R. 5050 - The Women's Business Ownership Act H.R. 2831 - Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2007 Legal Precedent Allows Women to Be Fired for Being Stalked at Work A History of Laws That Adversely Affected Women
4. Job Fields and Industries Women in Business Are Dominating Women do face many challenges including discrimination and are often paid less than men for doing the same job. But there are some industries where women are competing and even dominate. Knowing where women are succeeding can help you decide areas to grow your business and identify obstacles in male-dominated industries.
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Job Fields Women Dominate Jobs That Pay Women the Most Money Industry Growth Statistics for Women-Owned Businesses Understanding Trends and Statistics for Women in Business
5. Networks and Resources For Overcoming Women's Challenges in Business Two of the most effective tools in overcoming challenges working women face include networking and finding a mentor. And two of the biggest challenges women face are finding funding and getting government contracts.
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How to Create a Strong Business Network How to Find a Business Mentor Successful Women Use the Internet Resources for Asian Women Resources for Latinas and Hispanic Women in Business Small Business Funding for Women Funding for Women from the Small Business Administration Tips for Women-Owned Businesses Applying for Federal Contracts
6. Government Challenges and Resources for Women The Federal Government offers many programs and resources to help business women. But the government is also one of the worse offenders when it comes to discriminating against women in regards to awarding federal contracts. Knowing the resources available to you, can help you compete better in both the private sector and for Federal contracts.
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Why Women Should Use the FTC as a Resource Tips for Women Business Owners Applying for Federal Government Contracts Consider Certifying as a Women-Owned Business Congress Creates a New Challenge For Women in Business How the Small Business Administration Helps Women How the Small Business Administration Hinders Women Federal Resources for Minority Women The Central Contracting Registry
7. Finding Inspiration and Support From Other Business Women on Fire In addition to having a mentor, many women find reading the success stories, tips, and advice from other women who are already successful in business helpful and inspiring. Women in business features profiles of famous business women, as well as small businesses owned by successful women entrepreneurs, and working moms to encourage you on your own path to success!
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Profiles of Famous Women Entrepreneurs Profiles of Successful Women in Business Profiles of Successful Momprenuers Profiles of Business Women in Politics Book Review: "How We Lead Matters," By Marilyn Carlson Nelson
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