INDIA. Rajasthan: Rajasthan, a northern state in India is considered the largest state (by area) of the country. The name “Rajasthan” means the ‘Land of Kings’. It is a state famous for its forts, palaces, temples, rich handicrafts, and extensive golden sand desert. The state is home to brave Rajput warriors. Due to its cultural diversity, the state is also known as the ‘cultural hub of India’.
Although the state is quite popular for its cultural diversity, women empowerment and entrepreneurship remain a hot-button issue for this state.
The situation of women entrepreneurship in India
With new policies related to economic liberalization, privatization, and globalization, the Indian economy has seen a major change since mid-1991. Women entrepreneurs in India stay in a constant state of denial. They are denied access to a lot of opportunities because of their gender.
In the early 80s, the majority of Indian women entrepreneurs were involved in unorganized sectors like agriculture, handicrafts, handlooms, etc.
However, the Indian entrepreneurship scene has changed dramatically since 1991. As a result of growing industrialization, social legislation & urbanization, India is experiencing many success stories of women entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurs in Rajasthan
With limited resources and amenities, entrepreneurship for rural women is a mammoth task. These rural women are refused opportunities to earn and are treated as an undesirable part of the family.
Due to this, they have to face lots of challenges related to business and maintaining a work-life balance. Living in a society with a patriarchal mindset, lack of activity and processing, business crisis, the need for infrastructure, etc have made their job very difficult.
Rajasthan is a ‘state of colors’ and these rural women are the heart and soul of the handicraft industry. But, despite the rich texture and uniqueness of their products, they are on the losing end in the state economy.
To judge their capabilities, women are moving towards entrepreneurship. More and more women are venturing into areas that are traditionally dominated by men. However, entrepreneurship development in Rajasthan remains a major issue for the government.
Major obstacles for women entrepreneurs
Although there have been feminist movements around the world, it is still a farfetched dream to bring equality in every aspect and every field, especially in India. When a women entrepreneur starts her entrepreneurial venture, she has to face many obstacles as compared to men. For a long time, entrepreneurship has been dominated by men.
Along with this, social barriers, traditional mindsets, exploitation by middlemen, and many other factors have served as major obstacles for women entrepreneurs.
Some of the other barriers faced by the rural women entrepreneurs include lack of finance, safety and security issues, family restrictions, lack of self-confidence, lack of education, shortage of raw materials among others.
Government initiatives to help women entrepreneurs
Rajasthan government has been very dedicated to empowering women through its various programs. The government acknowledges the importance of gender equality and women’s empowerment in its state policies and laws.
Several laws have been implemented by the Indian government to help rural women entrepreneurs. Social policies like Prime Minister’s Rojgar Yojana (PMRY), Working Women’s Forum, Indira Mahila Yojana, Women’s Development Corporation Scheme (WDCS), Mahila Samiti Yojana, etc have been a boon for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Self Help Groups in Rajasthan
As per the reports, there are approximately 1.5 lakh self-help groups in Rajasthan. The Department of women and child development in the state has promoted about 50% of these groups.
A Self-help Group (SHG) comprises small groups of poor people coming from the same socio-economic background. These people come together to solve their common problems through self-help. Usually, the number of members in one SHG is around 20.
The main motive of the SHG is to promote savings among its members. The savings can then be utilized in case of an emergency or other essential requirements. Many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), humanitarians, village workers, etc come together to help these people.
Changing scenario of the rural women entrepreneurs
The situation of women entrepreneurs is changing in India. Their economic and social conditions are transforming. These entrepreneurs are emerging as self-independent and self-reliant. Due to the changing scenario, there is a significant change in their lifestyle.
Rural women have proved their strength in every aspect of life. Be it works related to handicrafts, agriculture, tailoring, or arts, the rural women in Rajasthan have dominated the fashion industry with their skills. With government programs and new technologies, these women entrepreneurs are progressing towards a better future.