The Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently hosted 'Unleash Women’s Potential — To Accelerate Economic Growth', a thoroughly informative and interesting session on women and their role in the economic sphere. Held at The Bengal Chamber, the evening saw a lively panel discussion as well as inspiring tidbits from multiple keynote speakers.
Anoop Hoon, chairperson, marketing and brand committee, BCC&I, delivered the welcome address. Speaking about the discrimination women often face in the professional sphere, he set the context for the conversation. He provided statistical insight coupled with personal observations, especially about the hiring processes. This was followed by a keynote address by Dr Shashi Panja, minister, Department of Industry, Commerce and Enterprises, Department of Women & Child Development & Social Welfare, Government of West Bengal. Dr Panja delivered a powerful speech regarding the welfare of women, especially from rural areas and the larger steps that can be taken for better reception and utilisation of women’s skills and labour. She also spoke on the impact that the pandemic had on women and their return to employment, wherein it was less prioritised than men coming back to work. Dr Panja further acknowledged the need for proper resources to empower women and their efforts.
Rowan Ainsworth, Australian consul general, took over the stage with a brilliant speech highlighting the need for continued efforts towards women’s empowerment. “Women’s rights are human rights. And of course, securing and upholding human rights makes the world a better stage,” was the simple yet impactful beginning to Ainsworth’s speech. The inaugural session was promptly followed by a panel session moderated by Ranjan Banerjee, CHRO, Berger Paints, and including Mahasweta Chakraborty, commercial pilot; and Sujata Guin, senior vice president — human resources and CHRO, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels. The varied insights from the panellists, on what women empowerment means to them, the changes they suggest to engage women better in the economic sphere and such, led to an interesting session.
Sudakshina Bhattacharya, CHRO, HDFC ERGO, delivered the closing keynote address with poignant examples of situations that have led to changing working conditions for women like extension of maternity leave to six months and the establishment of lactation rooms. “Change happens when we feel the pain of what is happening around in our environment,” said Bhattacharya. The evening came to a close with valuable insights and a hope for a better tomorrow for women.