Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives

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Executive Interviews: Interview with Shahnaz Hussain on Women Executives
July 2007 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary


Shahnaz Hussain
Pioneer and Leader of herbal care in India
She is also a pioneer of Vocational Training in Cosmetology in India.


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  • Empirical evidence shows that women contribute significantly to the running of family businesses, mostly in the form of unpaid effort and skills. The value of this effort is underestimated both by the families that take it for granted and in academic studies too. On the other hand, many enterprises said to be run by women (that is, enterprises in which women hold the controlling share) are in fact done in their name by men who control operations and decisionmaking. Why do women take the back seat? Or is it that they are forced to do so? Do you think women are not getting their share of well deserved success?

    The status of women entrepreneurship in any country is a ref lection of the social conditions. In general, in the larger perspective, in India, women have taken the back seat in society itself. Women cannot abdicate their familial responsibilities. They have had to surmount the barriers of tradition and social norms, but gradually, they are coming to terms about the importance of holding their own in the outside world. In the metro cities and urban areas, the status of women has improved, because women are now found in every sphere of the career world. But when we take the total population of women into account, the percentage is so small that it cannot make a great impact.

  • Keeping in mind this paradox as well as of the familial and social conditioning that reduces the confidence, independence and mobility of women, what steps / programs / policies do you suggest for women entrepreneurs?
    First and foremost is education. Education and even adult literacy should become major movements and programs. With education, financial independence is possible. The woman should experience financial independence, because it is an empowering factor. Awareness of education and the status of women should be improved. The role of women's organizations should be to focus attention on these issues and to organize programs where women can themselves play a role to help themselves. They should also highlight instances where women have excelled, in order to inspire women in general. The woman has to fight for her own independence, but first she has to realize that she has every right to do so. Secondly, the programs should increase awareness about the opportunities of entrepreneurship, the sectors which can be explored for business, the prevailing legal aspects, the availability of finance, the knowledge or skills that can be acquired, as well as the support offered by different agencies. The woman also needs to be aware of how she can balance career and family responsibilities.

    Actually, creative and cultural industries play an important role in the economy of developing nations, not only in terms of economic growth, but also to achieve social stability, generate employment, create wealth and preserve culture. India is a country with a rich cultural heritage, which has immense economic potential. In fact, it has been seen that cultural industries have contributed to a rapid rise in GDP. In the present scenario, women can explore the possibilities of developing traditional industries, but need support to compete in the international market. For example, Ayurveda can be developed into a traditional industry, considering that the importance of holistic systems like Ayurveda is being recognized throughout the world. Similarly, our traditional crafts can be so developed as to provide opportunities for entrepreneurship. The infrastructure needs to be developed. There is also the need for knowledge on vocational training.

1. Women Executives/CEOs Case Studies
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

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