Millennium Post

‘Women are the most under-utilised economic asset’

The key objective of the project is to identify a group of young under-graduating women students of the college, who are self-motivated and want to become entrepreneurs by providing them with the requisite knowledge, tools and skills to be able to put their ideas to practice. It is a part of the execution of the Netherlands governments’ policy on women empowerment globally. Women rights are one of the top priority of the Netherlands government. The Netherlands firmly believes that in countries where women have equal rights and opportunities, there is more prosperity and peace. Women rights are therefore essential factors for the Millennium Development Goals. Through the women entrepreneurship programme in India the Netherlands’ government intends to contribute to this objective.

The chief guest for the event was Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador, Embassy of kingdom of the Netherlands. Sunita Narain Director General Centre for Science and Environment was present as the guest of honour. The panel of guests included Sharmila Bihari, Counsellor, Embassy of the kingdom of the Netherlands, Julia Djarova, Managing Director ECORYS, Netherlands and Prof. Hans Wissema, Emeritus Professor of Entrepreneurship and Managing Director, Wissema Consulting EOOD, Sofia, Bulgaria, T N Chaturvedi, Chairman, Governing Body and Former Governor of Karnataka and Kerala and Former Comptroller Auditor General of India, Kusum Krishna, Ex-Chairperson and Treasurer, Governing Body and Director, ECORYS India and other members.

The ceremony began by the lighting of the lamp, followed by the principal Indu Anand’s address to the gathering. Recipient of many prestigious national and international awards like Indira Gandhi Priyadarshani Award (1996), Charles Wallace scholarship and a Fulbright Scholar, Anand has been working tirelessly for women’s empowerment and the WEST programme is yet another milestone covered under her aegis, towards fulfilling the goal of social responsibility by the college. In her address, she highlighted the concerns of girls students who come from diverse backgrounds and have different expectations from educational facilities offered to them. An entrepreneurship programme like WEST not only enables a close understanding of these expectations but also equips the girls to become financially independent. ‘Economic independence is a true marker of women’s empowerment’, Anand said. She underscored how entrepreneurship is an effective strategy to not only combat the effects of global recession but also contribute productively to society. It was followed by Chairman Shri T N Chaturvedi’s welcome address, wherein he focused on the fact that the founder of the college Brij Kishan Chandiwala was a devotee of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore it becomes pertinent for Janki Devi College to live up to the role of equipping women to not only becoming financially independent, as Gandhi wanted them to be, but also enabling them to carve a productive place for themselves in life.

Praising the efforts of the Governing Body and Principal Anand for providing a remarkable entrepreneurial training platform to young women of the college, Alphonsus Stoelinga, Ambassador, Embassy of kingdom of the Netherlands emphasised the development partnership between India and the Netherlands, stating that both the countries have relations that go back to 400 years. Alternately, the Women’s Entrepreneurship programme initiated at JDMC is a part of corporate social responsibility, undertaken by the ECORYS, Netherlands wherein efforts shall be made to utilise young women’s creative and entrepreneurial potential so that they could contribute to their families, society and the nation. ‘Girls and women are the most under-utilised economic asset and India has recognised the need to focus on women and gender equality, so that society can witness optimal avenues of growth’, he added. Julia Djarova, Managing Director Ecorys also highlighted that there is an enormous women power in this country and it should be channelised in a productive manner. ‘There is a need to build up the self confidence of women by providing them with effective mentorship, emotional and operational support to realise their potential’, she added.

Prof. Hans Wissema described JDMC as a cradle and green house to nurture girls’ talent. He summarised the aims of the training initiative when he told the girls about how they were to discover their way to success, facilitated by the right kind of training as well as a firm belief in one’s ability to do things. The JDMC girls enthusiastically responded to his call by screaming ‘Yes We Can!’

Sunita Narain also emphasised the importance of education for women and how it is the biggest change agent in their lives. WEST would offer them a double jump, enabling them to collaborate their knowledge, gained from education, with skills and being confident enough to achieve things as an entrepreneur. ‘Women’s literacy has a direct correlation to every other indicator of Human Development Index’, she added.

Finally, a few students shared their entrepreneurial plans, thanking the college and Ecorys for recognising the latent potential of girls and helping them achieve their ambitions.
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