If you educate a man, you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family-- this famous quote of a Gandhian scholar and educator, Dr. James Emmanuel Kwegyir aptly sums up the important role women can play in the development of families, communities and nations.
No nation can make progress if women lag behind. With women constituting about 50 per cent of the country’s population, every effort has to be made to empower them economically, politically and in every other field. From Vedic times women were treated with respect and veneration in India. In Hindu, mythology, Lakshmi is the Goddess of wealth, Durga, the Goddess of power and Saraswathi, the Goddess of learning. However, the respect accorded in ancient times to women has been missing in modern times and this tendency not to treat them as equals has apparently contributed to lower literacy rates and lack of empowerment.
Successive governments since Independence have been trying to correct this distortion and change the mindset of the people by according equal importance to boys and girls in all matters from education to inheritance of properties. ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padao’ programme is a step in the direction of educating and empowering the girl child.
With the literacy rate of women touching about 65.46 per cent in the country and rising steadily, I would like to emphasize that studies have shown that increasing women and girls’ education contributes to higher economic growth. Although women constitute 50 per cent of demographic dividend, the major challenge is to increase their participation in the country’s labour force for faster economic growth.
While there is an additional net requirement of 109.73 million skilled manpower by 2022 in 24 key sectors, it is estimated that only 4.7 per cent of the total workforce in India has undergone formal skill training as compared to 68 per cent in UK, 75 per cent in Germany, 80 per cent in Japan and 96 per cent in South Korea.
Vocational training institutes such as this would greatly contribute towards skilling of women and lead to increased economic empowerment. The shortage of skilled workforce could be overcome by imparting vocational training.
I am told that the Regional Vocational Training Institutes are mainly set up to produce women instructors. In turn, these trained instructors will provide training to students through a network of Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) all over the country.
This RVTI is offering training in fashion design & technology, architectural assistantship, cosmetology, front office assistant, secretarial practice (Englishj), food and beverages service assistant.
AT other RVTIs, training is being offered in trades such as electronics mechanic, architectural draughtsmanship, computer operator, programming assistant, secretarial practice, cosmetology, dress making, catering, hospitality, interior decoration and designing. I think RVTIs must also look into the possibility of imparting training in areas such as healthcare, travel and tourism industry, packaging and printing.
Those undergoing training could also become successful entrepreneurs through proper guidance. Financial institutions like MUDRA bank could go a long way in promoting entrepreneurship among women. Linkages must be established with banks, SIDBI and MUDRA in order to promote the entrepreneurial talent among women.
Indians have inherent talent and ability for entrepreneurship. What is needed is state-of-the-art training and upgradation of skills. With about 65 per cent of the population below the age of 35 years, this demographic dividend must be fully tapped to spur economic growth.
With rising demand for skilled personnel in various fields, more such training institutes must be established through collaborative efforts of the government, industry and NGOs.
An important aspect of any training or skilling programme is to ensure last mile connectivity. Linkages with various industries must be established by RVTIs so that training is imparted in vocations that are in demand in the market.