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Towards an Equitable and Integrated South Asia: Building Enabling Environments for Women in Trade – India Country Report


By Nisha Taneja, Sanjana Joshi, Shravani Prakash, Pawani Dasgupta and Sanya Dua

India has registered a two-fold year-on-year growth in exports in recent years and has set a target of USD 1 trillion in exports by 2025. However, India’s trade with other South Asian countries continues to be relatively low, even though it has increased in the last few years. Furthermore, the participation of women in India’s trade is almost negligible with its South Asian neighbors.

Given this background, we assess the enabling environment for women entrepreneurs in India to participate in domestic and international markets, especially the extent of women entrepreneurs’ participation in South Asian markets. For this, we identify constraints to women entrepreneurs’ participation in both the domestic and foreign markets, including South Asia, and suggest measures to enhance their participation in trade. The analyses and findings are based on desk research, secondary data, and online stakeholder consultations with two associations—Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE). There were 27 participants in the webinar consultation with FIEO, and 19 participants in the webinar with FIWE. In addition, separate meetings with several of the attendees were held for follow-up questions to gain a deeper understanding of the ground-level issues related to barriers faced by women entrepreneurs.

Section I examines the policies and targeted schemes of the government as well as recent technology-led initiatives of the private sector. It assesses the efficacy, gaps, and best practices of the enabling measures based on desk research and insights from our consultations with women entrepreneurs and other relevant stakeholders. Special focus is given to the enabling environment created by (i) technology and digital economy (ii) networks, and (iii) access to capital. Section II gives an overview of the enabling factors that support women’s participation in trade and the continuing impediments responsible for the low share of females in India’s growth. Section III assesses specific barriers that prevent women’s participation in India’s trade with other South Asian countries. Section IV recommends an affirmative strategy to enable Indian women-led enterprises to actively engage in export and import trade within the South Asia region

Posted January 4, 2024
Related locations: India
Related programs: Inclusive Economic Growth