Women will be the biggest force in India's economic growth story. As per McKinsey, the country could add up to $770 billion—more than 18%—to its GDP by 2025, simply by giving equal opportunities to women. And some efforts have begun in that direction.
For companies and brands, this is the mega opportunity they need to focus on. SheThePeople — a digital platform catering to women related news, health and entertainment content, founded by journalist Shaili Chopra, has taken it upon itself to partner with brands to help them connect with the modern Indian woman and become the voice of inclusion.
"Over the last few years, we have seen how brands are evolving and started acknowledging women as a potential target segment. I always say, if you are not talking only to women, you are not talking to them at all. And it is exciting to see brands like Google, Axis Bank, Dove, Colors, Levis, Disney and many more who have stepped forward to lead these conversations with us," says Chopra.
"This segment is going to grow in times to come really fast. And we plan to have more conversations on Women & Entrepreneurship, Women in Tech, Financial Independence for Women, Safety for Women, Menstrual Hygiene Education etc."
What's established is that there is a big market out there for women across sectors but just how can brands build a trustworthy and long term relationship with them?
Brands today have woken up to the fact that women are a deeply valuable market for them. The National Health and Family Survey (NHFS) this time shows that for the time there are more women than men in India. Women are not just a 700 million-plus market, but they are also big influencers on what the other half of the population buys or does. As individuals, mothers, wives, sisters women have a say in everything from a luxury car to a soap purchase.
SheThePeople is curating progressive and relatable campaigns with its content and also helping brands select the right communication and marketing strategies to reach more women and impact their brand's relationship with this audience. The platform is in English, Hindi and Bengali.
Companies need to make their selling more inclusive and meaningful and build trust with female consumers. Chopra says it's not just enough to programmatically target females. "Brands must find a good balance. Remember women as a market is still untapped, unattended to. And so building a connection and selling to them can be a tricky task to achieve." That’s where SheThePeople comes in.
"We curate and construct social and community focussed campaigns to take brand messaging to the 400 million-plus digital reach of our platform."
Many recent advertisements have put women as their leads and have picked progressive themes. Chopra calls that a good start. However, she adds, eventually, communication will have to be multi-pronged, deep and effective. "In today's world, it's not enough to make an ad if there isn't a continuous effort to make connections with people. The modern Indian woman is not stupid. She will see through what's tokenism and whatnot."
A big area set to see growth for women is the health sector. Chopra's SheThePeople is building a large community of women talking about health. Through Girl Talk India and Period Talk, Chopra is driving a focussed narrative on menstrual and sexual health for young women. SheThePeople's YouTube Channel is driving conversations with doctors and specialists around the country - and clarifying specific and simple questions for women via verified doctors.
Better health increases the returns to educational investments, in particular for girls who start with lower levels of education and lower labour-force participation. Healthier women are more able to participate productively in the labour market. Currently, only under 30% of Indian women are engaged in the workforce. Chopra insists this needs to change. "We can fix this by recognising that women entrepreneurship is a segment that can grow. We need to go beyond thinking handcraft for women, and explore how funders and governments can support them to scale. In fact, I recently brought up these issues with the Minister of Women and Child Development, Smriti Irani.
Irani says, "Imagine if we had a movement of buying made by women products? Naari Se Khareedari is an effort we all must make."
Chopra adds, “COVID has forced people to think ‘disruption’ and women have shown agility and flexibility in taking on change by switching to digital and using it for enterprise and small business growth.” She adds, Indian women, half of our 1.4 billion population, have a significant potential to lift the economy into the next phase.
“Women are great examples of leadership, excellence and entrepreneurship, all of which SheThePeople.TV stands for. Our mission is to continue to build this platform for future leaders who will shape the Indian digital ecosystem."
Women have ensured that neither location, nor the manpower, or lack of it, becomes a challenge, when it comes to business, because tech enables them to outsource and organise better. It has also helped women execute bold business and timely ideas- like cruelty-free sustainable footwear, providing eco-friendly menstrual wellness solutions to urban women, or developing a website singularly dedicated to women’s rights and laws for women. "The internet has completely opened up opportunities for women to contribute to the Indian economy," says Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Minister of State, MeiTY and Skill Development.
During the pandemic too, women entrepreneurs have used the power of tech for social good- be it the development of specialised masks to aid frontline healthcare workers, or provide students from low-income families the access to online education during the pandemic. We believe women are bringing alive ideas for a new India with breakthroughs in digital and tech, transforming their lives and the nation’s potential. This new entrepreneurial energy is what can take India to the next level and put women at the forefront.
SheThePeople's Chopra adds, “I want every woman who’s been told she can’t be her own boss and create her own business, to go out there and prove everyone wrong. Today digital is her biggest tool and ally.”