The Need for Women Leaders & Reshaping World Order

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By Education Today

Posted on April 5, 2022


13 min read

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The Need for Women Leaders & Reshaping World Order

Today’s fast-paced, team-based, and global work environments call for strong and effective business relationships. Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies are at the heart of effective workplace relationships and productivity. More women in leadership positions will provide an integrated set of skills that support highly effective, fast-reacting, and innovative organizations. This article explores the gender biases and the gaps in gender representation across sectors and highlights the importance of women’s leadership in healthcare, politics, and the corporate sector. 

Women in Leadership Positions            

Traditionally, it has been observed that women may not suit some of the leadership positions, possibly due to personal or family responsibilities. Often beliefs and values engraved in their growing years, make them hesitant to step forward. However, with time, women have broken these stereotypes and proved with encouragement and trust that they can take on any leadership role.

Certain fields remain dominated by men at the top, as senior leadership tends to be largely male, and these men perpetuate a stereotype of the masculine-identified qualities required to become leaders. Often, they believe in promoting people who most closely resemble themselves. Making a mark in these fields has continued to be tough. We need to understand the challenges that women face in a male-dominated workplace and implement some of the strategies that women find helpful as they try to stay at par with men.

As any woman who is at the helm of her own army at home and at work will tell you, whether it is baking the perfect ‘cake’ or meeting impossible project deadlines – it takes a fine balance of soft skills and some sharp administrative moves to make it work. According to Henry Ford, if there is any great secret of success in life, it lies in the ability to put oneself in another person’s place and to see things from his or her point of view – as well as from one’s own. In other words, he speaks of empathy that helps a leader to acknowledge and appreciate diverse perspectives without judging. 

Talk About Her Too: Women’s Voice in NGOs (Healthcare)   

A study conducted by experts from India and Harvard University reveals that Indian women suffer gender bias while accessing health care. Gender stereotypes also prevent women from voicing their health problems. More women need to be vocal and be heard – about their miscarriages or their infertility or their contraception scares. About their cancer or their heart disease. About depression. Anxiety. Weight. Eating disorders. Alcohol abuse. Prescription drug abuse. Domestic violence. The stigma attached to such conditions keeps many women silent. But without loud-and-clear advocacy, the research will not get funded and the policies will not get overhauled. It’s only by finding our voices that we can strengthen each other and grow together into a force for healthy change.

It is observed, women’s healthcare issues are more prevalent in the rural areas due to the lack of awareness or knowledge. This is due to the absence of basic education of the growing girl child, which needs to be addressed first. Self-help is the best help. Today, women are completely unaware that they need help for a particular ailment. Their voice is not heard as it is not spoken about. Primary health care is needed for every single rural girl child. This awareness can be created through various NGOs, primary schools, panchayats and mothers. The future mothers in the rural areas need to be made aware of benefits of self-healthcare.

The most basic issue that all NGOs working for women face is how to use and manage available resources to maximize the social impact. We all know that social needs are endless, especially in a developing nation such as ours. As a result, NGOs are pulled and strained in many directions to address social needs. Here are some solutions on how to tackle these issues:

  • Strategic Planning and Building Framework: An effective strategic planning regarding allocation, procurement, prioritization of funds and co-operate funders can help in solving the inadequacy of funds. As the CSR funds are providing various opportunities, proper training of rural self-help groups, grassroots groups in building constructive framework and professionalism would help to bring out social reformation easily.
  • Use of ICT tools: All NGOs should be using Internet, email, a basic website, and social media platforms. This is so that maximum people can be reached out and made aware about the efforts of the NGO. As the importance of digital marketing increases, grassroots level NGO owners should be trained properly so that they can reach out to probable donors easily. Central agencies should run basic e-learning courses on how to use digital platforms so that maximum grassroots level NGOs can benefit.

NGOs bring out social reformation and work hard to make a change. Different NGOs starting from well-established groups to grassroots level groups undergo many struggles, which hinder the growth and change they are thriving to bring about. Due to some scams, NGOs at grassroots levels must undergo through a lot of scanners to just set up the group.

Further, lack of funds, credibility, politics, unawareness about strategic planning, ignorance by government, absence of centralization of financial power lead to declination of many budding groups. These issues need to be resolved from the roots. Proper mechanism for application and handling by central government agencies along with guidance from experts on how to use available resources will not only help newly entered NGOs in the market but also the ones which are established. All this will motivate more and more people to come forward to help the unfortunate and will assist in uprooting of many societal myths. As a nation, we will be a more reformed and socially uplifted country if the struggles and problems of all NGOs are addressed properly.

Political Leadership – Women 2.0: Power, Passion & Politics   

There is established and growing evidence that women’s leadership in political decision-making processes improves them. Women demonstrate political leadership by working across party lines through parliamentary women’s caucuses – even in the most politically combative environments – and by championing issues of gender equality, such as the elimination of gender-based violence, parental leave and childcare, pensions, gender-equality laws and electoral reforms. Women’s representation in local governments can make a difference. Research on panchayats (local councils) in India discovered that the number of drinking water projects in areas with women-led councils was 62 per cent higher than in those with men-led councils.

Women were actively involved in the Indian freedom struggle as well. Post-independence, the first generation of women were actively involved in politics for the purpose of serving the nation. But the percentage of women were negligible compared to men. Political dynamics changed after 1990 in India. Impact of globalization, technology and changing social trends were the main causes. Few states in India initiated women reservation at local self-government from 33% to 50%. Many political leaders’ second and third generations entered active politics including daughters and daughter-in-laws. The Political Leadership 2.0 process was shaped after emergency and became visible in the post liberalization era.

Impact of power, passion and politics for women leadership were visible in regional parties rather than national parties. Women leadership is still developing in India compared to 50 years ago, but all political parties need to take serious efforts to empower young and educated females. Responsibility also lies on the society, media, government, judiciary and international institutes who should take a lead for implementing Women Political Leadership 2.0.

The progress in this aspect has been slow and uneven. Women are still underrepresented in politics, parliaments, and public life. Women make up less than 23 per cent of parliamentarians, while men make up more than 77 per cent, leaving more than 50 per cent gender gap. Attitudes towards women candidates are still largely characterized by deeply ingrained stereotypes, and political opponents will often use those stereotypes to question women’s capabilities.

The “Women in Politics: 2020” map, created by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and UN Women, presents global rankings for women in executive, government, and parliamentary positions as of 1 January 2020. It shows all-time highs for the number of countries with women Heads of State and/or Heads of Government, and for the global share of women ministers, parliamentary speakers, and parliamentarians. Still, 25 years after the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which set the international target for reaching gender balance in political decision-making, women are underrepresented across all levels of power.

Women Empowerment by Research and Innovation

Women are more likely to leave science, technology, engineering, and mathematics compared to men, in part because they lack similar role models such as peers, teaching assistants, and instructors. As the imperative to ensure women’s participation and rights in social, economic and political progress gains urgency, innovation presents a particularly exciting pathway for seizing the present moment and achieving the goals of women’s empowerment and gender equality—goals that have been so difficult to realize in the past.

At the most basic level, innovations can benefit women simply by improving their well-being in terms of health, nutrition, income and even life span. Beyond vital improvements in well-being, innovations can lead to women’s empowerment, securing freedom and resources for women to make decisions, build confidence and act in their own interests. Deeper and truly transformative innovations reshape men’s and women’s roles on a longer-term basis.

Examples are abounding where only yesterday women were immobile, but today move freely, where women were silent but today have a voice, where women were dependent but today are the engines of progress for their families, businesses, and communities. It is well known that innovation and shifting gender roles are each catalytic processes that drive change. There are eight catalytic innovations in three domains that intersect areas with the greatest need and most creative entry points for realizing women’s empowerment:

  1. Technology Use
  2. Social Norm Changes and
  3. Economic Resilience

Corporate Leadership: Heroes of India, Winds of Change

The current businesses and the current marketplace within the corporate sector requires a different style of work as compared to the previous years. There is a need for diverse teams to come together and work cohesively and closely. There is also a need to work with other teams to achieve business goals in a very short duration depending on the business and timelines.

Such kind of environment requires great coordination, collaboration, high networking skills and a good connect with people and this becomes the root for effective leadership. It also becomes the language of leadership, vision, and the behavior of leaders. With this new requirement of leadership, another important segment of leadership is the role of women in leadership roles. We need to understand how organizations perceive women achieving the leadership position and how they create value to the organization. However, it is said that there is a leadership ambition gap between working men and women. One reason that is believed is that women do not want to compete and there are other reasons which may vary like family, priorities, etc.

But it is also recognized that females make better leaders and better performers – as it is recognized that women have the right leadership style that creates a positive impact on the organizational performance as a whole. Today, women are seen in every field and there is no area where they have not proved themselves.

But we do see a disparity and the ratio is more skewed towards men. Unlike earlier times, authoritative or dominant leadership styles are looked down upon, while a more inclusive, empathy-based leadership style is more accepted. Empathy as a quality comes naturally to women and thus, they prove to be competent leaders, enabling an inclusive work environment, filled with understanding leading to better outcomes of their team. Women need to understand women and encourage each other. In fact, they can be better poised to take critical decisions at corporate level around HR policies like Equal Pay, Maternity Leaves, work from home policies, etc.

The case for balancing the power equation in leadership has never been clearer: elevation of women in decision-making benefits politics, businesses and communities. But progress in women’s leadership will not happen automatically. Governments, corporations, academia, non-profits, and civil society can adopt these steps to balance power in leadership:

  • By making a commitment to gender parity in leadership
  • Implementing laws and regulations that guarantee a safe and open environment for women’s participation and leadership
  • Establish policies and practices that encourage women’s leadership and promote gender parity
  • Invest in and develop public services and programs that enable women to succeed as leaders
  • Enable and support women’s organizations and movements, and
  • Change the narrative on women in leadership and confront socio-cultural drivers of gender inequality

Women Empowerment for Economic Prosperity

As women constitute almost one-half of India’s population, without their engagement and empowerment, rapid economic progress is out of the question. For economic growth to be really inclusive, women empowerment is of utmost value. It is crucial for achieving sustainable economic development of our country and even beyond. Still a large part of women do not have sufficient autonomy regarding the value choices for their own life. The data also reveals that there is a necessity to look beyond economic resources or material prosperity and into cultural and social influences, which are playing a significant role in shaping a women’s autonomy and empowerment.

Along with government, civil society organizations and all other stakeholders must come forward and involvement in the women empowerment process is the need of the hour. Beyond vital improvements in well-being, changes can result in women empowerment, where women gain agency and resources to make decisions, build confidence and act in their own interests. Deeper and truly transformative changes reshape societal norms, attitudes and institutional practices. Greater gender equality in markets, political institutions, family systems and social roles provide an ongoing foundation for sustaining women’s well-being and empowerment. Trust and loyalty are built and tested during difficult times. The more transparent we are as leaders in our organizations, the more others, especially those at the front lines who are the most at risk, are willing to show up and do the work, knowing that their leaders take their safety seriously and will provide the necessary resources to protect them. During the Corona virus pandemic, people all over the world are looking to their leaders to lead with compassion, transparency and above all, to provide guidance that will keep them safe. Some of the women leaders have proved to handle this situation and have set an example that an empathetic, compassionate, and transparent leadership style can help to overcome – not just external barriers but also internal barriers created by societal pressure or culture. Women have rebooted, breaking these barriers, and have truly emerged empowered to take on any challenge that comes their way.