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‘Technology is a great enabler for women safety and empowerment’

In a webinar, academicians and industry experts talked about the role of technology in improving women’s accessibility to education and jobs



Apeejay Stya University (ASU), Gurugram, recently hosted an enriching panel discussion on the issue of empowering women through technology in a webinar. Conducted under the aegis of the School of Behavioural Sciences, ASU, the discussion was attended by students as well as faculty members.

The panel discussion, titled “DigitAll: Innovation & Technology for Gender Equality”, had three speakers: Dr Charu Sharma, associate professor of Human Development and Childhood Studies, University of Delhi, Leister Sam Sudheer Manickam, director of Wellness and Mental Health, Triquetra Healthcare & Technology Private Ltd and a registered clinical psychologist, and Sheema Vohra, founder and managing director, Sartha Global Marketing LLP.  The guests were introduced by Professor Sanjay Ahirwal, dean, School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC), ASU, in his welcome speech. He also moderated the session.

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Dr Sharma shared a presentation on innovations for gender equality. She went on to highlight UNDP’s Sustainable Development Services (SDS) Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Programme for fostering businesses. In India, for example, the UNDP is working to change social norms around unpaid care. It is working with childcare centres that not only provide institutional care to kids but simultaneously enable women with young children to pursue economic opportunities.

She also spoke about government schemes for women empowerment like Mahila-E-Haat, Mahila Shakti Kendra, Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP), to name a few, that leverage technology.

Drawing attention to the lack of women in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the panellist attributed the trend to people’s mindset, fewer role models in sciences and fewer women-specific science institutes apart from patriarchy and economic factors.

She stressed the need for accessible education as part of innovative approaches using technology to promote women empowerment. Equally crucial are gender-sensitive policies, community support and cultural change, she said. 

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Taking the conversation ahead, Vohra emphasised the need for women’s financial independence. “We need to go beyond gender bias. Financial independence of women is very important today, which is the crux of empowering women to make their decisions. With regard to the tourism and hospitality industry, there are many women leaders. The safety factor in our industry is taken very seriously. Technology has allowed us to tap into talent across the country.”

She further spoke about how technology has played a crucial role in empowering women by opening up new opportunities for them. She added, “Women have to stand up for each other. You might have different views and may not even like everything about each other but supporting each other is very important. Our industry has created an interesting ecosystem where women have platforms to network and have done well.”

The experts also talked about women’s safety and the need for sensitisation against abuse and discrimination. “Technology is a great enabler even in the case of women safety. While structural change is needed, it is also upon us as individuals to be more sensitive and call out abuse. Men also have to be sensitised,” Vohra stated. 

Manickam talked about the involvement of women in local administrative bodies and its impact on political systems. Later, he cited examples on gender roles in households, gap in opportunities given to a boy versus a girl, and more. “We need to engage people in a healthy dialogue,” he said.

Amid the pandemic, women have been able to take up remote jobs or adapt to a hybrid working structure to manage professional and personal responsibilities. Thanks to technology, many women have also started running their businesses online, the panellists mentioned.

In her closing remarks, Dr Vimala Veeraraghavan, dean academics and emeritus professor at ASU, said, “Women have to be self-sufficient, independent and should be able to take care of themselves.”

The session came to a close with a speech by Professor Ahirwal. “Technology is and will be a major driver of gender equality in the coming years,” he said and thanked the panellists for a thought-provoking session.

Disha Roy Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent at Apeejay Newsroom. She has worked as a journalist at different media organisations. She is also passionate about music and has participated in reality shows.