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Women as Institution Builders: Empowering Societies

"The power of a woman's influence should never be underestimated. We can shape societies and build institutions that create lasting change." Malala Yousafzai

Throughout history, women have played critical roles in moulding civilizations and establishing institutions. Their contributions, however, have frequently been neglected or underappreciated. 

Women have emerged as powerful institution builders globally and in India. Through their leadership and determination, they have established institutions that address various socio-political, environmental, and economic issues. Recognising and supporting women as institution builders is essential for achieving gender equality and building inclusive societies. following are few examples of women as institution builders across the world and in India 

  •  Eleanor Roosevelt, the First Lady of the United States, played a significant role in institution-building by drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

  • Wangari Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya, focusing on environmental conservation, community empowerment, and women's rights. 

  • Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's leader, founded the National League for Democracy and has been instrumental in shaping the country's political landscape.

  •  Dr Kiran Bedi, India's first female police officer, pioneered institutional reforms within the police force, implementing innovative programmes for inmate rehabilitation. 

  • Ela Bhatt founded the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), providing support and empowerment to women in the informal sector. 

  • Medha Patkar, a prominent social activist, worked with the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) to advocate for marginalised communities affected by dam projects.


Women bring unique perspectives, experiences, and skills to institution building. Their inclusion leads to more comprehensive and holistic solutions to societal challenges. Moreover, women's involvement in institution-building fosters gender equality, empowers communities, and contributes to sustainable development.

Despite their significant contributions, women institution builders face numerous challenges. These include societal norms and biases, a lack of access to resources, gender-based discrimination, and limited representation in decision-making positions. Overcoming these obstacles is crucial for ensuring gender equality and sustainable development.We must continue to celebrate and empower women who contribute to shaping our institutions and creating a more equitable world.


"The world needs more women in positions of power and influence. Our unique perspectives and experiences can transform institutions and create a more just and equitable society." Melinda Gates

Women as Institution Builders: Issues  and  Steps to overcome challenges 

Gender bias and discrimination in the workplace can render it difficult for women to thrive and establish institutions. Women may be overlooked for leadership positions or endure uneven treatment compared to their male counterparts. They are frequently overlooked in positions of authority and influence, which limits their ability to influence policies and decision-making processes.

A lack of resources and opportunities, such as capital and networks, might hamper women's capacity to establish and sustain businesses. Balancing job and family obligations can also have an impact on women's ability to devote time and energy to institution development. 

Stereotypes and cultural expectations could restrict women's roles and potential as institution builders, maintaining gender norms and discouraging female leadership. A lack of mentorship and support networks might also hamper women's professional growth and development.

 A pay disparity between men and women can have an impact on women's financial resources and ability to invest in institution development. 

Women's participation in institution creation may also be limited by cultural and societal conventions, particularly in places where traditional gender roles are severely enforced.

 The achievements of women as institution builders may be neglected or devalued, resulting in a lack of recognition and exposure. Intersectionality can make it even more difficult for women to have access to resources and opportunities for institutional development.


"Empowering women as institution builders is not just a matter of equality; it's a matter of progress. Their contributions are crucial for sustainable development." Angela Merkel


Institutions should promote diversity and inclusion by increasing women's representation in leadership positions and ensuring equal opportunities for advancement. Address gender biases and discrimination by implementing policies like unconscious bias training, anonymous recruitment processes, and equal pay policies. Increase access to resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs by providing targeted investment programmes, mentorship programmes, and networking opportunities. Flexible work policies should be implemented to allow women to balance work and family responsibilities. Society should challenge traditional gender roles and stereotypes by promoting women's success as leaders and institution builders.

Mentorship and support programmes should be established to help women overcome challenges. Close the gender pay gap by implementing fair pay policies, conducting regular pay audits, and promoting transparency in salary negotiations. Challenge cultural and societal norms that discourage women from pursuing leadership positions or starting their businesses through education, awareness campaigns, and promoting gender equality. Recognise and celebrate women's achievements through awards, media coverage, and platforms for sharing success stories. Embrace intersectionality by considering the impact of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and other factors in policies and initiatives aimed at supporting women as institution builders.


"When women are allowed to lead and build institutions, entire communities thrive. It's time to break down the barriers that hold us back." Kamala Harris


The Indian government has launched various schemes to employ women, including the National Mission for Empowerment of Women, Leadership Development of Minority Women, Integrated Scheme for Women Empowerment, PMRY, Swa-Shakti Project, Rural Women’s Development and Empowerment, Rashtriya Mahila Kosh, Priyadarshani, and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihood. The PMRY was initiated in 1993 to promote women's entrepreneurial prospects by providing loans up to 1 lakh for business and 2 lakhs for industrial and agricultural activities. Institutions like MSMEs, the State Small Industries Development Corporation, and the National Institute of Statistics and Commerce (NSIC) also play a significant role in helping women entrepreneurs.

G20 countries have made significant progress in increasing female representation in leadership roles, with an average percentage of women in managerial roles fluctuating around 30% since 2010. The percentage reached 32.4% in 2019, with some countries experiencing double-digit growth. However, some nations have seen a drop of up to 11% in women in managerial roles. The table highlights the need for increased data availability due to a large number of missing values.

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