Aug 26, 2016

A Gender-Balanced India

GCWL: Empowering the women leaders of tomorrow                                       

There is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women - Kofi Annan

Studies show (and everybody reading this is probably familiar with the research) that women in leadership positions can change the entire dynamics and performance of teams, organizations and societies. Published research indicates that women help foster innovation by providing alternate perspectives and nurturing collaboration – a key differentiator for outstanding 21st century companies.

However, in many countries, and certainly in India, we need to do more to create opportunities for all women, from all walks of life and all economic backgrounds, to realize their potential. And that's where GCWL comes in.

What is GCWL?
Dr. Vanita Shastri, Dean, Undergraduate Programs, Ashoka University, says - "The Genpact Centre for Women's Leadership (GCWL) is a unique academic-industry partnership that combines the power of academic research with best practices from industry to empower women leaders and promote gender inclusive growth. Set in a co-educational institution, GCWL has the advantage of impacting men and women through a combination of teaching, research, advocacy, mentorship and corporate engagement."

Ashish Dhawan, Founder and Trustee of Ashoka University, says - "The Genpact Centre for Women's Leadership is an excellent example of how two leading institutions can forge a collaboration to create new knowledge and address key challenges in the domain of women's leadership. GCWL aims to develop gender equity, capacity and best practices, both in the social and corporate sector. Ashoka University, its academics and students look forward to collaborating actively with Genpact to realize the vision of the centre."

What does GCWL aspire to achieve?
Mother Teresa said, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

This is what GCWL aims to do – cast many though-provoking stones to create ripples over and over again that change the thinking and behavior of boys and girls and men and women across India. This can have a huge effect on organizations and a lasting impact on our society.

A sampler of GCWL initiatives
GCWL celebrated its first anniversary in April 2016, where 'Women on the Move' was the theme of the day. The guest of honor, Shikha Sharma – MD & CEO, Axis Bank – talked about how one can really help women to make it to the top. There was also a well-researched and imaginatively-presented enactment of current mindsets and hurdles that come in the way of creating equitable leadership roles for women in corporate India.

Meena Wilson, Executive Director, GCWL at Ashoka University flagged off a 'Breakout Session', where small groups with a mix-and-match of representatives from Genpact, Ashoka University, Axis Bank, Make My Trip and several other organizations discussed ideas about how to actually make a difference to 'Women on the Move,' including influencing men.

GCWL Leadership Lab aims to develop a network of confident, competent and conscious young women and prepare them for leadership at and beyond Ashoka University. During their eight-month- long engagement at the Lab, students participated in various activities and projects, like courses in Research Methodology, shadowing researchers during interviews, transcribing interviews, attending workshops on personal growth and professional development and sitting in Leadership Circles. Select students also participated in the Madeleine Albright Student Exchange program, interacting for three weeks with young women around the world to devise solutions to global issues.

'Womenspeak', a monthly speaker series, provided an interactive platform for leaders and experts to share stories and experiences with university students.

The road ahead - Provoke Reflection, Inspire Action
The road ahead is promising. We aim to build platforms to connect, educate and empower girls and women, and educate boys and men on balanced leadership across corporate, educational and societal sectors.

We are also looking for the One Big Idea that can really move the needle and change the future of girls/women's lives in India. Thoughts?

About the author

Amit Aggarwal

Amit Aggarwal

Senior Vice President, Training

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