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Venture Capital Funds Backing Fewer Women Start-Ups Than Men-Led Ones: Irani

Union Minister Smriti Irani said that the India Inc. has to be more sensitive to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace

Venture Capital Funds Backing Fewer Women Start-Ups Than Men-Led Ones: Irani
Smriti Irani, Minister for Women and Child Development
Smriti Irani

Press Trust Of India

POSTED ON December 15, 2023 8:47 PM

Union Minister Smriti Irani on Friday hit out at venture capital funds for not backing women-led innovative start-ups, and instead taking bets on entities founded by men. 

The Union Minister for Women and Child Development said there are many women innovators in science and technology, but rued that their strides are not getting translated into commercial ventures. 

"Even today, risk taking by VCs for women-led initiatives which are based on innovation is far lower as compared to those by men," Irani said, addressing an event organised by MentorMyBoard. 

One has to check how many women do not become a part of the corporate boardrooms despite being innovative, she said. 

Irani acknowledged that her recent statement in Parliament opposing period leaves for women has caused an "uproar", but stuck to her stance saying allowing so will have deep concerns on privacy.  

"Can you imagine a scenario where the HR head of your company knows your menstrual cycle every month. Can you imagine the scenario if you are a single woman and you do not take a leave for two months," she said.  

She added that providing for the menstrual leave will also be contrary to the existing laws governing shops and establishments, and also industrial statutes which provide for medical leaves. 

"We have seen a generation of women who have been denied employment because they were getting married, who have been denied progression in a company because they had a baby. We consider them as once in a lifetime event. Imagine now creating an excuse for people every month to not hire women," the minister said. 

There cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to addressing the challenges faced by women, Irani said. 

Irani, who has also handled the human resources development portfolio in the past, said there is a need for business schools to impart negotiating skills to its students, especially girls and asked organisers of the event to focus on the aspect. 

India Inc has to be more sensitive to prevent sexual harassment at workplace, Irani said, adding that this challenge is all pervasive. 

She cited the case of a "celebrated corporate" in the country that took action against the head of the complaints committee for awarding a penalty against an errant staffer recently, and expressed disappointment at "missing sensitivity in the corporate ecosystem". 

Women complaining about bad experiences should not be re-victimised through the treatment meted out to them later in their careers, Irani said, adding that industry groupings like CII, Ficci, and Assocham have to "censure" the corporate indulging in such acts. 

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