In a first, Kerala is all set to set up India's first International Women's Trade Centre (iWTC), in consonance with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDs), in Kozhikode.
This initiative aims to accelerate women entrepreneurship and secure gender parity while providing women with a safe place away from home to start new businesses, set up or expand, and get their products marketed globally.
The first phase of iWTC, being executed under the Gender Park’s “Vision 2020”, is scheduled to be completed by 2021.
“It is significant that the Gender Park has unveiled the iWTC project at a time when more and more women are foraying into entrepreneurship and exploring other self-employment options in Kerala,” said KK Shailaja, Minister for Health and Social Justice, Kerala.
Dr PT Mohammed Sunish, CEO of Gender Park, noted that the overall scheme of iWTC would be that of a world-class shopping destination, encompassing within its ambit, a string of outlets catering to the needs of women entrepreneurs.
“The facility will have women’s startup and incubation centre, retail fashion and technology outlets, health and wellness centres, business centres and offices, conference/convention/exhibition spaces, performing arts centre, residential suites and daycare for seniors and children,” he said, adding: “We are seeking financial support for the project from relevant institutions.”
Besides serving as a facilitator to launch their own ventures, iWTC will enable women entrepreneurs to participate in international trade, enjoy greater economic benefits, and enhance their competitiveness to tap market opportunities.
While creating a safe and sustainable environment for the growth of industry, business, trade and lifestyle, iWTC will also have a dedicated space for cultural expressions of women to promote and showcase performing arts and cultural forms like dance, music and theatre.
“This is a fine concept that looks upfront,” said eminent choreographer and activist Mallika Sarabhai, who is an adviser to the Gender Park, an autonomous body under the Social Justice Department.
In September 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda, which includes 17 SDGs to transform the world, building on the principle of “leaving no one behind.” It is a call for action by all countries to promote prosperity while protecting the planet.
The iWTC is conceived in line with the aims of SDGs like efforts to end poverty in all its forms, provide good health and well-being, quality education, gender equality and women’s empowerment, innovation and infrastructure and reduced inequality.
The first-of-its-kind facility in India where women’s ventures and startups can be incubated in a high-tech space, it will offer fully automated private and shared office spaces, virtual workspaces, common secretarial services, state-of-the-art communication facilities, and business guidance centres for setting up trade or business.
It will also be a business hub to bring together entrepreneurs, small business owners, industry leaders, mentors, experts, and investors on a single platform. iWTC will involve local women entrepreneurs and tradeswomen and connect them to world markets using the latest technology to build or expand their businesses
A salient feature of iWTC will be crèches and daycare centres for kids and adult and senior community centres for the elderly so that women can focus on their jobs without worrying about their children and aged parents. Transportation will be available for women who work late and short-stay accommodation for those who wish to stay back and finish their work.
Adhering to green protocol, iWTC will be housed in an environment-friendly and resource- efficient building. In its piloting year, it will help flood-affected women and provide them with opportunities for livelihood and entrepreneurship.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)
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