India's North-eastern region keen to empower women entrepreneurs for economic expansion

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Guwahati, December 29: Women constitute a major workforce in any industry in today's globalized and competitive world. In the northeast region of India too, women have traditionally played a major role in bringing about social and economic changes. Efforts are being made to bring women entrepreneurs to the mainstream.Be it weaving or crafting, a commodity market or a production unit, women in the Northeast have always proved their mettle as entrepreneurs. To encourage women from the region, the first ever North-East CM's Conclave on Economic Empowerment of Women was organised by the Federation of International Chambers of Commerce of India (FICCI) Ladies' Organization in Guwahati.

The event was graced by Chief Ministers of Assam and Meghalaya, who promised to empower women entrepreneurs through financial inclusion. "Unless women are empowered, how a country can be described as a developed country," said Tarun Gogoi, Assam Chief Minister.

"The fact that this conclave has been hosted here for the first time is itself a positive thing. It opens up lots of opportunities for further engagement and dialogue. And also explore the possibilities of partnering with all these potential resourceful partners who have converged to this part of the country," said Mukul Sangma, Chief Minister of Meghalaya

Recently, the DoNER ministry also launched 'Swayam', an initiative of FICCI's women's wing, to invite women entrepreneurs from across the country to invest in the Northeast region and take a lead in developing the region as an industrial hub. Women entrepreneurs constitute only about 10 percent of the total number of entrepreneurs in the country. However, in Northeast region, the average is high as a large number of women are engaged in small businesses like weaving and hand crafting.

Some of them also showcased their products at an exhibition in the conclave. "Northeast is a place where women have always been economically active and status wise also they have a higher status than women from other parts of India. Other thing is that Northeast is very beautiful and it has so much beautiful craft. So we thought it will be very good if members from all over the country come here," said Archana Gupta, President, FICCI Ladies' Organization

"Women shouldn't be dependent on someone. Our members have come from all over the country and they are liking the market. We will promote them and it will give them very good business," said Alka Aggarwal, Member, FICCI Ladies' Organization The government of India has also taken new initiatives to promote business, industry and create job avenues in the region.Women entrepreneurs can now look forward to sectors like organic farming and healthcare.

States like Meghalaya are planning initiatives like "preferential purchase policy" for the products made by women entrepreneurs. Such measures will not only empower women, but help increase economic prosperity in the region.

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