I am Generation Equality: Madhura Das Gupta, business leader and advocate for women’s economic justice and rightsBillions of people across the world stand on the right side of history every day. They speak up, take a stand, mobilize, and take big and small actions to advance women’s rights. This is Generation Equality.
I am Generation Equality because…
Three ways to help women and girls to achieve their dreams: :
- Motivate women and girls to follow the careers they aspire for.
- Never give up. Find your community, find people who believe in you and are rooting for your success.
- Support gender-balance at workplaces and equal pay for work of equal value.
“I believe in equal rights for all, especially the under-represented communities. I am motivated by the stories of people who have overcome great adversities, but I can't help but wonder, what would have happened if they had access to more opportunities?
At the beginning of my career, I thought more and more women would join the workforce. I never thought we’d come to see a day when there would be such a steady decline in women’s labour force participation in India. I thought we’d create a more gender-balanced workspace by now, instead it has gotten worse.
I had been a banker for 25 years, on the cusp of turning 50, when I started Aspire For Her, with a mission to create a generation of financially independent women. Aspire For Her wants to impact over a million women and add USD 5 billion to India’s GDP through increased participation of women in the workforce by 2025.
Role models matter
It is critical that we invest in financial inclusion and financial literacy for women in our country.
Growing up, my father was (and continues to be) a loud and proud feminist. He raised me and my sister to believe that we were equal. My mother, a high achiever and an athlete, was a home-maker for the first few years of their marriage. My father encouraged her to apply for the Bengal Civil Services and to fight for her seat at the decision-making tables. In their relationship, both had an equal say in decision-making at home.
When I got married, my husband and I stood by each other, giving each other the space and freedom to achieve our aspirations.
Women and the workforce
The diversity of thoughts and action is good for business.
“It’s critical to have conversations about equal pay.”
When people from diverse backgrounds get together to solve a problem, the solutions are far richer than those created by a homogeneous group.
Women make up the largest untapped pool of talent in India. When we under-serve our women, we loose out on that talent pool. It deprives women of financial autonomy, it deprives the economy of an able, tactile workforce, and it deprives the country of development opportunities.
I remember watching an advertisement on television about a young boy and girl at an ATM. They were using the same debit card and pressing in the same pin-codes but the girl always left with less money. It is unfair that women do not get the same pay for the same job.
While we’re still tackling the problem of getting more women in the workforce, it’s equally critical to have conversations about equal pay to equalize the playing field.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many households lost their sole breadwinner. Thousands of women were left without financial support. It shouldn’t take a global pandemic for us to understand that every woman should have economic agency, because economic independence opens doors to other freedoms.”
Madhura Dasgupta Sinha has more than 25 years of banking and leadership experience, and is now the CEO and Founder of Aspire For Her, which motivates young women to enter and stay in the workforce. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, with only 22.3 per cent of Indian women in the labour force and less women in leadership roles, India’s gender pay gap has increased this year. Aspire For Her is a Generation Equality Ally, a new communications and advocacy initiative under UN Women’s flagship campaign in India. UN Women spoke with Dasgupta Sinha on the occasion of Equal Pay Day, 18 September 2021.