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Girl Power Tech – empowering young women with 21st century skills

Employability & employment creations are key development priorities in India

One of critical development priority for India is job creations as the population is growing younger. India’s working age population is going to increase by 115 million people in the next 10 years (Source: Deloitte). Further, India has the youngest population in the world – approximately 800 MN young people below the age of 35 yrs. These pose both challenges and opportunities for policy makers, government, private sector and relevant stakeholders responsible for socio-economic development. The unique demographic proposition of India can be addressed through innovative ways of creating employment and/or self employment opportunities, leading to better leverage the demographic dividend. As per the report by Azim Premji University, there are around 23.3 million unemployed youth in India. Moreover, about 16.5% of such unemployed persons belong to the age-group of 15-25.

On the other side, current government has ambitious goal of making India US$ 5 trillion economy by 2025. By November 2019, India became the fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy in the world and the 5th largest overall, with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillionovertaking the United Kingdom and France. India ranks 3rd when GDP is compared in terms of purchasing power parity at $11.33 trillion. One can infer that the economic growth still has room for much larger population – meaningful employment – who may be left behind due to unequitable growth. And there are ways – digital literacy, skills development & meaningful employment; entrepreneurship development – can lean to more equitable growth, which can further fuel the economic development.

Where is the young women in this scenario?

There are inherent and systemic challenges for girls – the female literacy rate at the national level is 65% and in rural India it is around 46% – and therefore a huge proportion of women resources are still devoid of meanigful economic imperatives. While women’s role in every aspect of life is nonpareil, they still lack adequate opportunities. The crippling female illiteracy in India leads to a gender skewed workforce, where only about 25% of the country’s workforce is female (Source: McKinsey & Co, The Power of Parity – Advancing Women’s Equality in Asia Pacific). Further research by McKinsey & Co on Women in the workplace in 2019, there are less than 5% of women are being represented at manager level. The report further notes that despite progress at senior levels, gender parity remains out of reach. There has been discussions around the status of women in STEM education or in technology. This problem is further fueled by the relevant skills requirement and educational opportunities for the girls & young women.

With a young population, India is in a sweet spot. If the demographic value proposition is leveraged properly, this pool of young people can deliver on all aspects of economic growth. To be able to do so there is a need for job creation along with enhancing the future employability skills (digital, 21st Century Skills) among youth for improved employment.

As noted by UNDP , women-led local economic development is key to achieving inclusive, equitable and sustainable rural & overall development in India. UNDP India succinctly highlighted the unmet needs as follows:

The above scenario adequately highlights the paradoxical situation and also suggest the way forward in terms of possible areas of intervention. SAP’s flagship CSR programme in India – Code Unnati – has been trying to address many of the above gaps through Digital Literacy & 21st Century Skills programme. However, there has been a need of targeted intervention for young women.

Social entrepreneurship or entrepreneurial activities are also a good lever to provide meaningful economic opportunities. It is one of the key lever to provide fillip towards fostering economic activities. According to 6th Economic Census released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, women constitute around 14% of the total entrepreneurs i.e. 8.05 million out of the total 58.5 million entrepreneurs. Even grimmer situation: The average employment in women-owned enterprises is a meager 1.67(Source: Business Standard)

Girl Power Tech

There requires a targeted intervention among young women for building their skills relevant for future work requirement or entrepreneurial drives.

While Code Unnati initiative has intervention with almost 55-60% of girls or young women as target audience, there has been a need to significantly address the issue of up-skilling & competency (Knowledge, Skills & Attitude) building among young women in an employable age group. This is a collaborative initiative with SAP HR, where in the HR team will help identify appropriate team or manager who will further induct these girls for internship. Girl Power Tech was announced during #DKOM2020 at Bengaluru by Sindhu Gangadharan, SVP & MD, SAP Labs India, with the aim of enabling necessary skills and appropriate environment to the young women.

Girl Power Tech – Future of Work or Entrepreneurial drives

  • Future skills readiness among the young women belonging to socio-economically underprivileged / vulnerable background
  • Build the pipeline of skilled & industry ready women workforce for IT ecosystem
  • Train the young women (final year of graduation) on employable advanced IT skills in their colleges (6 months)
  • Mentorship by SAP experts on 21st century skills including business communication skills, exposure to corporate culture & working in diverse team, build the empathetic leadership, design thinking led problem solving (30 days)
  • Internship at SAP Labs India under an expert in a diverse team, providing these girls the opportunity to work for an on-going project (45 days), which will further enable them to even front-end with SAP customers

There would be consistent support from SAP HR & subsequently SAP CSR Partner / CSR volunteers who will further nurture these young women to be future skills ready. SAP Labs India CSR has been driving Youth Digital Skills Development initiative, known as “Yuva Yuga”, in partnership with NASSCOM Foundation, and under the aegis of Department of IT BT, Government of Karnataka. The #GirlPowerTech will further be driven in collaboration with NASSCOM Foundation.

With Girl Power Tech initiative, SAP Code Unnati aims to align with UNSDGs : Gender Equality, Women empowerment through economic opportunities and possibilities. We aim to specifically outreach into rural areas and create opportunities for young women. We would leverage the power of SAP’s Human Capital to further. One of the key aspects will be to provide amenable and conducive work environment or enterprising ecosystem where every young woman can thrive. Girl Power Tech will not just enable young women with necessary competency to work in IT ecosystem but also help them to drive entrepreneurial ventures should they desire.

In 2020, SAP Code Unnati initiative will significantly focus on empowering young women and girls through a targeted interventions. Our objective would be to empower young women towards gainful employment or meaningful enterprise thereby propelling & enabling economic opportunities for them.

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