The Centre for Public Policy (CPP) at the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) inaugurated the India-Women in Leadership Programme on July 15, 2012 at 6:30 pm. This unique 10-week certificate programme for women political leaders was inaugurated by Her Excellency, Smt. Margaret Alva, Governor of Rajasthan. An initiative of Centre for Public Policy at IIM-Bangalore and the Centre for Social Research, New Delhi, the programme aims to strengthen the capabilities and leadership skills of aspiring women politicians. Thirty political and social leaders from different political parties across the country have enrolled in this programme. Scholarships have been provided by organizations such as UN Women and United Nations Development Program and by Biocon Chairman & Managing Director, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Margaret Alva made a powerful speech drawing on her decades of experience in politics. She stressed on the urgent need for more women political leaders in India. She appreciated the content of the i-WIL programme which includes policy knowledge, political skills, personal development and perspective on gender and ideology. She also shared her own experiences in her political career and recounted her experience in working with outstanding women leaders including Indira Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. She said, "We have a huge task ahead of us and we have this great opportunity to work together across party lines, across states through the i-WIL programme. Let us empower ourselves to transform India for the better and make women equal partners in shaping India's destiny".
Professor Rajeev Gowda, Chairperson, CPP at IIMB said, "India needs leaders who balance passion for public service, compassion for the disadvantaged, professionalism in governance, and courage built on values and vision. This programme will provide women leaders with the foundation and skill sets to break new ground and become agents of change".
Speaking on the occasion, IIMB Director Professor Pankaj Chandra described the variety of gender-related programmes at the campus. He described the research being undertaken on Gender and Health, Gender and Poverty and Women in the Boardroom. In addition to i-WIL, he highlighted IIMB's long-running Women Entrepreneurs training programme.
CSR Director, Dr. Ranjana Kumari said, "IIMB and CSR have launched this course jointly to build creative, knowledgeable and innovative women leadership. Investing in women through formal training will help in creating a pipeline of confident and successful women leaders".
According to the World Economic Forum's 2009 Gender Gap Index, India ranks 24 out of 135 countries for women's political participation. "Not only are there too few women in Indian politics, but women also face different barriers and disadvantages in their quest to become leading politicians in India. Therefore, women in politics need specialised skills and strategies in order to win elections and pursue the policies that matter most to them", said Dr. Kumari.
Suraj Kumar of UN Women and Sumeeta Banerji of the United Nations Development Program also spoke and highlighted their organizations' commitment in strengthening women's political leadership around the world.
Women hold a mere 10% of seats in India's parliament which also reflects their lack of participation in decision-making process. The representation of women in the Central Cabinet is even lower. Out of the 34 Cabinet Ministers, only two are women and out of 44 Ministers of State, there are only six women.
The India-Women in Leadership programme aims to correct this imbalance by equipping participants with appropriate training in political action, policy analysis, personal development and perspective and ideology. The i-WIL course is spread across three months which includes lectures, field visits, other activities like Model Parliament, Film Series as well as a week each of intensive exposure visits in Delhi and Singapore and. It aims to equip aspiring women leaders with the requisite skills and expertise in governance, and strengthens their ability to contest elections, lobby for women's rights and strengthen the overall network of politically active women across India.