Industrialist and educationist Lord Swraj Paul has asserted that political independence without women’s economic independence is a sham and all societies must address this.
Speaking at the three-day Women Economic Forum held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in London, Lord Paul, chancellor of the Wolverhampton University said: “I have seen how adjusting curricula and broadening access for women has had exceptional
results. So I urge those of you involved in education, particularly higher education, to examine this.
“The University of Wolverhampton is prepared to assist and to demonstrate our approaches and methodologies for those who are interested.”
“We are justly proud of political independence but political independence without women’s economic independence is a sham. All of us who have been more fortunate in life have an obligation to address this.”
He mentioned two other areas of concern – educational and business practice.
He noted: “Worryingly, only half of all South Asian women are literate. If literacy is the gateway to progress, this is alarming. Apart from the personal consequences, there are profound national implications.
“Today, in our globalised economics, the illiterate cannot prosper. Even the most basic employment in the modern world requires the ability to read and write. So, while the pressure is at the top, we must also work at the bottom.
Lord Paul, chairman of the Caparo Group of Industries, said, “The challenge for everyone concerned with the state of society is this – how best to apply human resources to creatively and responsibly shape the world that will emerge.
“We need to mobilise all our resources. The talent, energy, hearts and minds of about half of humanity have been largely underutilised.
“Human advancement means women’s advancement – achieved through the kind of efforts that all of you are engaged in. We cannot have a better world without having a better world for women – and economic enhancement is one of the keys to this.”
He admitted there has been significant progress but more so at the top.
“There are a number of women prime ministers throughout the world, and even the United States came close to electing a woman president. Of course in Britain we have our second woman prime minister Theresa May, who is doing a marvellous job.”
Yet, he noted, only 24 per cent of Indian women are economically engaged and even fewer in a lot of other countries. Contrast this with about 60 to 70 per cent in many Western countries, he noted.
Prince Tessy of Luxembourg, India’s Deputy High commissioner to the UK Dinesh Patnaik are among those who attended the meeting.