Sessions

COVID-19 pandemic brought about a huge experiment in widespread remote working. For most women, working from home has reinforced the stereotype of men as providers and women as caregivers particularly for families with young children. Over 40% of women professionals are experiencing high levels of stress owing to this double burden syndrome. What are the essentials for being productive at home? What new habits should we inculcate? What are the sunrise sectors for reskilling?

COVID-19 has made the existing inequalities for women, worse. Women’s jobs are estimated to be 1.8 times more vulnerable to this crisis than men’s jobs. Women are at the frontline of the COVID-19 fight representing 70% of the health and social sector workforce globally and their work environment may expose them to discrimination. COVID-19 has disproportionately increased the time women spend on family responsibilities – by an estimated 30 percent in India. During the lockdown, India witnessed a sharp increase in the recorded domestic violence complaints. This is putting enormous strain on women’s mental health. What can be done to especially focus on women’s mental well-being?

Women now constitute 30% of the workforce in India’s tech sector. However, the numbers drop dramatically at middle and senior levels. Globally, there is a positive correlation between business performance and women representation in senior management. How can tech companies help women avoid pitfalls and climb up the ranks? How can the goal of ‘Indian women leading the tech world of tomorrow’ be achieved?

In the face of the pandemic, entrepreneurs are being tested like never before. While some are witnessing their businesses being upended, many others have pivoted to meet new needs for goods or services borne out of the crisis. Further, this pandemic has given rise to more or new entrepreneurial activity – a reminder for us to think about how we value innovation. Nevertheless, with optimism and resilience hard-wired in their DNA, entrepreneurs are finding opportunities amid the crisis. Some are even turning it into success.

Starting two decades ago with eclectic accounts of daily life, Indian bloggers have evolved and diversified into a formidable lot of social media influencers. Brands lean into influencer marketing to attract wider audiences and to deliver relevant and consistent messages to their consumers. With fan following in the millions on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter (and others) the growth of social media influencers closely mirrors the rise in digitisation. How has this group of individuals been impacted by the pandemic? What are the lessons for those who wish to begin this journey?

With more than a billion mobile phone connections and 500+ million active internet users (35% of them are women), India seems to be bridging the digital divide between urban and rural audiences, men and women. However, there’s much more that can be done to fight gender inequality – by harnessing the powerful opportunities available through technology for learning, livelihoods, political participation and exercising choice and voice through the many online communities dedicated to better information and networks. This must finally feed into improving our dismal performance in the Global Gender Gap ranking where India ranks at 112 out of 153 countries.

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