By Merril Diniz:
We spend over 30% of our entire lives engaged in work. The average professional spends a minimum of eight hours at work, and if you own an enterprise you probably work 24/7. Imagine how many hours and years that translates to in a lifetime! Yet, there is so little being discussed about our everyday work lives. The quality of work that we engage in, the challenges we face – from discrimination and unfair practices at work, to mismatched expectations and burnout, not to mention the risk of stagnation.
Women in the workforce have their own share of unique struggles – from being asked insensitive questions at job interviews and battling everyday sexism to the ever-widening pay gap, among many others. Often, women who choose to defy the norms of patriarchy are questioned over their choice of career, their fidelity towards their family. And it doesn’t help that people are quick to label women as ‘bossy’, ‘aggressive’, ‘career-minded’, ‘bad mother’ and ‘rigid’! Is this a problem? It sure is.
And then we have the story of the entrepreneur. Their tribe is increasing in numbers, pretty much across all sectors, from tech, social businesses and renewable energy, to fashion and design, media and others. Yes, today’s business landscape is vast and dynamic, and the scenario is a far cry from the ’80s, when starting a business meant having access to government contacts, understanding bureaucratic systems, and procuring licenses. The question is – what are today’s entrepreneurial challenges? And, is it easy for new-age businesses to start up, scale up and make their mark?
India, today, has the world’s largest youth population. These young men and women could be tomorrow’s innovators, creators and builders. Or they could fall prey to unemployment. In fact, we have a peculiar situation on the rise in India, where on the one hand we produce graduates with inadequate or mismatched skills and on the other we have jobs with no takers. How can India close this gap?
The world of work is diverse, complex and expansive, and so are the challenges and the inequities. In the coming months, Youth Ki Awaaz joins hands with the International Labour Organization India (ILO), to launch a unique campaign on ILO’s #FutureOfWork initiative. This campaign will explore the spectrum of issues that impact our work lives. It will get conversations going with professionals and entrepreneurs from diverse sectors.
So, write to us. Tell us about YOUR career aspirations, the hidden struggles, biases and expectations, the skill and wage gaps, the gender discrimination, long hours and low pay, technology and starting up a business. Raise your voice and be part of a conversation that strives towards making decent work for all a reality!