Network of Champions

ILO builds momentum for women empowerment in India's Public Enterprises

Against the backdrop of weak labour force participation of women in India, ILO supported the development of a network of champions to promote women's leadership in the country’s public enterprises.

News | New Delhi, India | 12 September 2019
New Delhi (ILO News) - The International Labour Organization (ILO), New Delhi and SCOPE (Standing Conference for Public Enterprises) have developed a 'Network of Champions' to advocate for women empowerment in India's Public Enterprises (PEs). The 12 champions would work towards addressing bottlenecks and developing a conducive environment in PEs, allowing increased participation of women employees in the senior management roles.

Women's labour force participation in India remains persistently low and has been declining in recent years. It fell from 26.2 percent in 2010 to 23.4 percent in 2012, and India's Public Enterprises (PEs) are no exception to it.

A joint survey was undertaken by ILO and SCOPE in the year 2017 to identify the status of women in leadership and management in Public Enterprises. The study came up with a series of recommendations, and one of them was to establish a task force – a network of champions.

The top eight public enterprises, which employ more than 50,000 employees, shortlisted 12 candidates to be part of this network, based on their interest and previous engagement on the issue. The selected candidatesunderwent two training sessions on Gender and Empowerment at the ILO, New Delhi office. During the training, the champions identified core issues of women employees in advancing their career and discussed possible solutions. An action plan was jointly developed by the team to promote women's' leadership in the management of PEs.

"I am glad to see that the action plan is already being implemented. These champions have held their first round of discussions with three leading public enterprises for improving participation of women employees," said Dagmar Walter, Director, ILO DWT for South Asia and Country Office for India. The champions held activity-based training sessions followed by discussions with the employees in the selected PEs.

Mr. Atul Sobti, Director General, SCOPE, said, "This initiative is of utmost importance for PEs', as we believe that women's participation in the workforce would increase productivity and quality of work." He agreed to advocate for flexible skilling and career development opportunities for women employees in PEs.

"We believed that developing resources within PEs is important to ensure ownership of this activity. Thus, candidates were selected from within PEs to be part of this network," added Ms. Malika Basu, an expert on Gender recruited by ILO for training these champions.

All the 12 champions were felicitated and handed over their certificates of completion of training by Mr. Sobti and Ms. Walter at a function organized by ILO on 12 September 2019 at New Delhi.

Mr. Dhruv Kapil, General Manager-Coordination, Hindustan Petroleum, and one of the champions said, "Being a man, I was hesitant to be part of the training on women empowerment. However, now, I believe that men have an important role in supporting the career advancement of their female colleagues. I would work towards developing more advocates for the cause of women leadership in PEs."

Another champion, Anju Gupta, General Manager – Minerals, Metals, and Minerals Trading Corporation Ltd, added, "Such initiative was never thought in context of PEs, but it was needed. I would be trying my best to reach out to as many PEs as possible to raise awareness and engage with employees to support higher management opportunities for women."

Mr. Ravi Peiris, Sr Specialist Employer's activities with ILO, spearheaded this work. "Although we have a long way to achieve gender diversity in our businesses, this is a great start. I am sure the 12 champions are energized and raring to go and train men and women in PEs in promoting the career advancement of women," he said.

For more information, please contact
Ravi Peiris, Senior Specialist Employers Activities
ILO DWT for South Asia and Country Office for India