Women – Know your value, your skills are precious!

Smiling businesswoman portrait

Today India is celebrating women like never before. Even the smallest development in women’s sector is encouraged. Many women are entering politics, are becoming entrepreneurs, media persons et al. However, a study by FLEXI Careers India, a social enterprise that works in the area of women’s workforce participation, states that there are over 1.5 million educated women with prior work experience not pursuing their career actively. Why? Are they not finding a career of their choice or are they not interested to go for work? In reality, these are women are on a career break. They were working once but left mid-way due to reasons such as marriage, childbirth, spouse relocation and like. According to a national survey, 42% of women are university graduates but only 26% of them pursue an active career.

Why is this? A woman’s career graph is not a straight line; it has its own curves, ups and downs. Breaks due to marriage, maternity, elder care etc make them slow down and ultimately stop at a juncture with no proper support system. But that is not the end of the story. Women can make a new beginning and go on to build a satisfying, economically productive career. The AVTAR I-WIN network which consists of over 30,000 women professionals who have taken a break in career and have returned to the workplace is one such source of inspiration.

Here are ways in which the woman on a break can restart:

  1. Begin by visualising a career: There is a big gap during the sabbatical for many women since they are not aware of the opportunities which organizations are offering to women on a career break. They have buried themselves so deep in their domestic activities that the silence has made them very hesitant to even think of going back to work. Start by visualising a career. Imagine how your day to day activities will change and how your routine will have to become inclusive of a career.
  2. Brush up your forgotten workplace skills: Do a brush up course in the work area that you were good at once upon a time.  Re-skilling will surely build back confidence in you. Don’t brand yourself as ‘I can’t do this once again’ or ‘I am no more suitable for this’ etc.
  3. Start re-connecting with old contacts: One of the things that women totally give up on is staying in touch with their old professional contacts. In today’s networked world of LinkedIn and Facebook, it is easy to get back in touch. Start meeting your old colleagues and begin understanding the changes in the workplace.
  4. Entrepreneurship is a great idea too: You can actually convert your hobby into business. If you are good at writing then there are numerous companies who are looking for people to work from home to design their website content. If you are good at math you can start tuition or work part time in any educational institution. The choices are galore, only you have to make up your mind.

Ladies, kindly come out of your hiatus. Keep your eyes open to opportunities which are actually aplenty. Every woman has the right to be economically independent. A woman can contribute so much to the society and family by being economically independent. Double income families truly contribute to a better living standard. They contribute to better education to their children. Better educated children in turn contribute to a better society and country. You are not alone, there are around 1.5 million women seeking out for jobs.

Corporate are very keen in hiring more women to meet the gender balance ratio. They are coming out with many policies which will enable a woman to work without a break and also attract women who are already on a break. Such organizations have separate budgets to spend on the training for these women to climb the career ladders smoothly and steadily. Almost all the male dominated Industries are planning to implement the essential career enablers to attract women candidates.

Author: Dr. Saundarya Rajesh

Founder - President, AVTAR Group, SME on Diversity & Inclusion and Women's Workforce Participation