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Tuesday, 06 November, 2018, 14 : 13 PM [IST]

‘IWN works towards issues like health, hygiene & safety of working women’

Indian Women Network (IWN) is a platform created by the CII for women across sectors to strengthen their role and participation in the economic sphere and the community at large. Priyanka Nijhawan, Vice Chairwoman, IWN Delhi & Director – Representations, Nijhawan Group in an interaction with Disha Shah Ghosh speaks about their activities and women leadership.
Q How has been your journey in the travel & tourism industry so far without any formal training on the subject?
While my training hasn’t been towards travel & tourism per say, but because of my family and their business I was interacting a lot with the industry players. I have been part of familiarization tours and roadshows and networking sessions from close quarters. Therefore, I had a lot of familiarity with the trade fraternity. I come from a Mathematics and Computer Science background and therefore my initial learning in the family business was to take care of the back office accounts. This came very naturally to me. What attracted me to the forefront was the Rotana account that our representation division had signed up. I knew the market and the people, and the opportunity to join the business came during a discussion of a new account. One evening while driving, Ankush spoke about growing this vertical aggressively and I volunteered that I can be part of it. He was very clear that if I take on the responsibility I can’t look back. I wanted to take the plunge since I was aware of the market and this even seemed interesting to me. Once I was at the forefront, I took to sales and marketing as fish takes to water. The industry was very welcoming as well, and I found the entire process very exciting. It’s been seven years now, and I am sure the experience is definitely going to get better.

Q In an industry where almost half the workforce is women, why do you think there are few women entrepreneurs?
I think the gender gap is not only in the industry, but is now also in our workforce pan India. In 1996, when women in workforce were almost 47%, however, for some reason by 2015-16, we are down to 24%. The travel industry is better than the pan India average overall in the workforce. I feel a lot of drop out happens when women are attaining senior positions. This is typically because of the work life balance pressure. I believe there is no perfect work life balance that exists. It is all about priorities. There are days when work is priority, while there are some days when home requires time and attention. If one doesn’t have an effective family support system, then to balance this out is fairly difficult. While there is a big shift in the way the whole generation is brought up, where the women were being empowered and educated, the men were really not molded into how to deal with this change. I have had discussions with well educated men who still complain that the women don’t cook for them. We as a society need to ensure the male population is made to realise that cooking is a life skill, just like any other daily activity, and both men and women are supposed to be trained on them.

Q What kind of initiatives are you taking to create awareness about women entrepreneurship?
One important aspect of bringing women into the leadership position is to lead by example. This is true not only in an organisation, but even at home. We do not have too many people to look up to when we say it is manageable. We need very well thought of ideas and policies to support women. Expecting a woman to be able to solely manage a child as well as work is very unfair.

Q What are the activities undertaken by IWN in this direction?
With IWN, the idea is to have a platform where working women interact with each other and actually create a network for discussion and mutual understanding. We focus on working women and their agenda, whether it is about their health, hygiene and safety. We are working with the police and ministry at all levels and are hoping to be able to bring some change.

disha.shah@saffronsynergies.in
 
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