‘Gender equality key to GDP growth’

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By Nirupa Vatyam

HYDERABAD: Equal representation of men and women in all businesses is the key to a country’s GDP growth, John T Chambers, chairman of IT giant Cisco, said on Tuesday, underlining gender inequality as a pressing “moral and social issue”. Chambers, who also helms the US-India Strategic Partnership Forum(USISPF) as chairman, said, “There is an incredible opportunity for us if we empower women, promote their inclusion across all industries and remove barriers for female entrepreneurs.”

He also shared the story of how this “realisation” dawned on him while preparing to lead a panel discussion on the power of gender equality at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). “As I started my homework, I realised that the most important impact you can make on the GDP of India or the US is by equalling — by involving women in business, startups and overall approach,” he said.

Specifically addressing the need to close the skill gap through innovation at Hyderabad’s T-Hub, Chambers said, “If a country gets 3% growth in GDP, it can employ a 1.2-million workforce. That’s how you create jobs. But do it on the basis of equality, where men and women have equal opportunities.” He added that women entrepreneurs should get the same amount of capital and mentoring as their male counterparts.

Chambers also called for stronger partnership between India and the US on the issue of gender equality and said that both the nations together can achieve what has not been achieved before. Further, dwelling on the subject of startups, he explained how the futures of the US and India are directly connected with the futures of startups and innovation as “almost all job creation comes from these startups and small businesses”.

Echoing similar sentiments, Union defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while participating in a panel discussion moderated by Chambers later in the day, said that the Indian government’s ear is close to the ground, as a result of which it has been making necessary changes as well as adding new provisions in its startup policy.

She, too, reiterated that, going forward, startups will play a crucial role in job creation as the government can no longer create as many jobs as required. In fact, she said that even the defence sector is set to reap the benefits of the startup wave in the country and the government is also looking at easing norms to enable startups to contribute to India’s burgeoning defence sector.
Meanwhile, Telangana IT minister K T Rama Rao, who was also present at the T-Hub event, later tweeted about it. Through his official handle, he shared that his meeting with Chambers at T-Hub was extremely fruitful and they “discussed potential areas of collaboration with Telangana government initiatives such as T-Fiber and T-Works”.
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