Originally published in 2019.
WhatsApp is an immensely popular messaging app around the world, and it’s owned by the internet giant Facebook. It’s particularly important in India. “WhatsApp dominates India’s digital channels of communication. It’s woven so deeply into the country’s cultural fabric that it has evolved beyond being just an instant messaging service,” reports the website Digital Trends.
WhatsApp’s prominent position in Indian society and economy allows it to influence the country. With such widespread use, some of its influence is not helpful, such as the rampant fake news spread its spawned. However, it will soon make strides to exert a positive influence. WhatsApp will partner with an Indian government think tank, NITI Aayog, to support women entrepreneurs India.
All women in India, not just entrepreneurs, have long been subjected to discrimination. CNN reports that an expert poll ranked India as the fourth most dangerous country to be a woman in. In a country where women’s safety is at risk, equality in the workforce is difficult to achieve.
Though gender inequality is still widespread in India, CNN reports that “literacy rates have gone up, maternal mortality rates have gone down, and millions of women have joined the workforce.” As a Capital Group equity analyst reports, “A once-in-a-lifetime shift is underway as India becomes an ever-larger presence in the global economy. Women are steadily gaining access to education and jobs in coveted fields such as finance and technology.” Though being given a fair chance is still a challenge for many Indian women, the push for equality seems stronger than it ever has been.
It’s in this challenge that women face that WhatsApp and NITI Aayog hope to assist.
The two organizations will partner in creating a calendar of events to assist women entrepreneurs. They will also improve programs that aim to address the problems women entrepreneurs face. In addition, WhatsApp will provide $100,000 for the winners of NITI Aayog’s Women Transforming India Awards 2019, as Business Insider India reports.
It remains to be seen how much of an impact WhatsApp’s partnership will have. It has the potential to make a great impact, as any company with billions of dollars can. Helping women entrepreneurs is essential in a country where the environment for women can often be hostile. Women make up less than 14% of entrepreneurs in India. Lack of funds prevents organizations such as NITI Aayog from assisting women as much as they could. With help from the money WhatsApp provides, the number of women entrepreneurs in India could rise much quicker.