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Kraftsamla launched at Magnetic Maharashtra

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2018-02-19 17:39:00 – Mumbai

Consulate General of Sweden and Swedish Chamber of Commerce together with Swedish companies launch today at Magnetic Maharashtra the “Kraftsamla” pilot project- aimed to skill and train women from all walks of life in particular underprivileged to create readily employable women for the industry, build value chains, and transform eco-systems in Maharashtra. This is done by representatives of Swedish companies like Alfa Laval, Atlas Copco, Ericsson, IKEA, SKF, Delaval, Sandvik and Tieto.

Present at the launch were also representatives of the Maharashtra Government and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Maharashtra State Skills Development Society and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. "We are working in diff sectors in terms of skill development. Maharashtra has a maximum number of women entrepreneurs who need to be encouraged. GDP of the country will also boost if we encourage these women by channelizing their potential. All we need to do is to bridge the gap and connect the women who want to work and the companies who need the workforce. This MoU with Swedish Chamber of Commerce India (SCCI) is the right step ahead to achieving this” shared, Shri. Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar, Minister for Skills Development and Entrepreneurship.

To create a baseline for this project, a study was carried out by the Consulate General to understand different policies and activities Swedish companies today undertake through their human resources and corporate social responsibility functions with respect to strengthening capacity of women, employing, promoting, and retaining women with the company, as well as promoting skilling and gainful employment of women in Maharashtra. Speaking on the pilot project, Consul General of Sweden Ms. Ulrika Sundberg said “Today only 27 percent of educated women in India work in the industry, which is less than one fourth of the capacity trained. This means that up to half the population is not represented in the political or the economic life of the country. Gender equality is one of the cornerstones of Swedish society. The aim of Sweden’s gender equality policies is to ensure that everyone enjoys the same opportunities, rights, and obligations in all areas of life. The overarching principle is that everyone, regardless of gender, has the right to work and support themselves, to balance career and family life, and to live without the fear of abuse or violence. There is now a geared push by Swedish companies towards an improved gender ratio in India. There is also an interest in understanding how to use CSR funding to support skilling of women and female entrepreneurship. With a ratio of 3-12 percent of women at most companies in this baseline study, there is room for clear improvement and action. Companies that are a part of ‘Kraftsamla’ will look to skill and empower women by providing training, or other employment opportunities through CSR initiatives and mentoring programs, or by enabling policies through their HR function.”

Swedish companies have been present in the state since early 1960. Over the years, Pune has emerged as a manufacturing hub. Twenty-five companies were interviewed in the study, primarily companies in the sector of engineering products, as well as NGOs working within the area of education and skilling.

Today, only 27 percent of women in India work in the formal sector. This number currently keeps decreasing while globally women are increasing their presence in the job market. The equivalent in China is 63 percent and in Sweden 83 percent.

The skill gap, lack of awareness of employment opportunities, patriarchal mindset and customs defining the role and function of women and male dominated workplaces and non-conducive environments for women are some of the reasons identified behind this disparity.

The ratio of women in Swedish companies in the baseline study spans from as low as 3 to about 40 percent, of which of 3-12 percent of female employees are in manufacturing and 27-40 percent in services. ‘Kraftsamla’ partner companies will carry out targeted efforts to increase the gender ratio in their organizations and in their supply chains as well as adopt gender equality in their code of conduct.

The study further found that there is a lack of women in senior positions. Notably, just over half of the companies have female leaders at the country- or vice president level, and none of the companies interviewed is run by a woman in India. The study points out there is an overall lack of female role models.

The chief goal for ‘Kraftsamla’ is to bring the collective of Swedish companies to join hands to practically promote gender equality and equity. Women empowerment ignites catalytic processes, changing eco-systems on micro and macro level, and have a generational impact. Including more women in the workforce has the potential to increase the GDP of the country by 60 percent (approximately 7 billion USD).

The first trainings under the project will be for 110 women for roles as forklift drivers, warehouse supervisors and assembly operators. The trainings will include skills such as English, digital literacy and team work, as well as a paid internship program. We are teaming up with UNDP and their program DISHA, which aims to train one million women and the government of Maharashtra that will support this project, for example by providing infrastructure.

General Manager of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Sara Larsson commented “Kraftsamla” means to join our forces in Swedish. This is a project with high potential, energy, and creativity, as we are asking companies from several different sectors to work together to impact eco-systems in the place they have their operations. We must pursue gender equality and equity whole-heartedly if we are serious about building a sustainable future for all.”

Sweden’s participation in Magnetic Maharashtra includes country pavilion and seminar participation in the spotlight session on gender and women entrepreneurs. Sweden’s State Secretary for Higher Education and Research Ms. Karin Röding will also be present along with her delegation to give a speech at the inaugural ceremony.

The Kraftsamla project also includes other actions points:

Gender equality and equity at work: Companies to create workplaces that are gender equal and inclusive. This include address existing structure and systems that are excluding women, both related to work culture, mindsets, and policies. Mentorship, building leadership and role models amongst both women and men.

Gender equality as part of code of conduct: The retail sector has worked with gender equality and equity as part of their supplier’s code of conduct for many years. Not so much in manufacturing industry yet, which the program intends to address.

Building sustainable value chains: Supply and demand drive our economy today. ‘Kraftsamla’ aims to create value chains through support and develop female entrepreneurs. Key words are sustainability for investment, people, and environment.

Code of Conduct: include gender equality in the companies code of conduct along with fighting child labor, safety and quality standards as well as decent work.

About the Consulate General of Sweden: Established in September 2012, the jurisdiction of the Swedish Consulate General covers Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa – an area comprising of 173 million people. The Consulates major role in India is to develop bilateral trade relations and grow finer insights into the Indian system through a gamut of institutions and representatives from varied industries and the regional governments. Its prime aim is to broaden and deepen this coalition with special emphasis on trade and investments. It also focuses on spreading information on Swedish innovations, technologies, and services and how they could benefit India. The Consulate works closely with the Embassy of Sweden in Delhi, Business Sweden, and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce as Team Sweden to help liaise and increase business contacts between Swedish and Indian companies within certain strategic sectors, such as Energy & Environmental Technology, Health Care & Life Science and ICT.

About the Swedish Chamber of Commerce India: The Swedish business community in India consists of Swedish companies from all sectors and stages of establishment in India. In 2008, the companies started the Swedish Chamber of Commerce India as an independent, non-profit organization with the mission to build the future of sustainable, meaningful, and successful Swedish business in India. Holistic sustainability includes investment, people and environment and innovative mindsets and cutting-edge technology are the enablers. Partnership for impact is our modus operandi and we run today strategic work in areas such as gender equality & equity, policy dialogue and impact on eco-systems. The base is the network of people from the more than 180 Swedish companies in India today; sharing experiences, doing knowledge transfer, and collaborating in strategic areas.

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