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Women Entrepreneurship:Walking through the History towards the Future

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Mar 12, 2012

"Don’t limit yourself. Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. You can go as far as your mind lets you. What you believe, remember you can achieve."Do you know which person I have quoted from? It’s not Steve Jobs, not Richard Branson, It’s Mary kay Ash, a famous woman entrepreneur and founder of Mary Kay Inc. Fortune magazine recognized this company with inclusion in “The 100 best companies to work for in America.” Before 20th century, especially before the industrial revolution there is hardly any success story of woman .It was also unbelievable that a woman can speak like that. They were treated like slave, inferior and that made them slave and inferior. Their then status can be clarified by two comments of ancient scholars:

Great Mathematician Pythagoras wrote, "There is a good principle that created order, light and man and a bad principle that created chaos, darkness and woman."

Greek Dramatist Menander writes, "Woman is a pain that never goes away."

I know these are so humiliating to the women of the 21st century but it was the truth. If we look back the pre-historic time there was a fascinating thing about women. According to the book “Ancient Society” written by Anthropologist Lews H Morgan, Primitive communism was based in the matrilineal clan where women lived with their classificatory sisters – applying the principle that ‘my sister’s child is my child’. This kinship solidarity empowered women to take action against uncooperative males. But when the males started farming , found advanced way to live with nature and started growing private property women had to hand over the controlling power to men. Patriarchal society evolved. Social Scientist Freidrich Engels identified it as “Historic defeat of female sex”.  That was beginning of the thousands years oppression against women. This oppression made the whole women community detached from the development process.

But at the time of industrial revolution women were allowed to work in the factory and they started protesting against the powerful and oppressive owner of the factories in hand with their male counterpart. The women were showing their brilliance in some sectors. Simon de Beauvoir, French Existentialist writer, in her “Second Sex ” book writes “Women who have finally began to feel at home on the earth like Rosa Luxemburg and Marie Curie brilliantly demonstrate that it is not women's inferiority that has determined their historical insignificance: it is their historical insignificance that has doomed them to inferiority”. Women started feeling of their own. They felt that a woman could not have been Vincent Van Gogh or Franz Kafka but have been Saint Teresa who lived her life for herself.

It should be noted that for the first time in the history Marxists bloc came up with the manifesto that supports women emancipation and empowerment most. Though it couldn’t be implemented at all, it helped to set a vision for the woman empowerment. With the emergence of democratic values in nations claim for gender equality got a new dimension. The nations honoring the claim started developing more than the nations neglected. With the support of the state and male counterpart women got back the confidence to do something by them. This confidence contributed to develop women entrepreneurship later.

Experts says about Women entrepreneurship “Women entrepreneurship is inherent and also a natural process. Women are naturally endowed with the qualities of entrepreneurship. Maternity is a creative capacity involving risk of life. Maternal instincts generate enormous strength and determination that drive the fear away from them. Courageousness and determination that generate at the time of maternity are in born. These characters generate within themselves and not come from elsewhere. Women empowerment becomes reality by nurturing their innate qualities of entrepreneurship.”

From the business point of view there are some areas like Beauty, fashion where women are more insightful than men. In 20th century they started showing courage to take risk to initiate business of their own. Mary kays Ash, Jenna Jameson, Anita Roddic are some of the examples.

With the evolution of internet and social media freedom to work got a new dimension. The proactive women were not lagged behind to leverage the opportunity. Amanda Marcotte, founder of Pandagon,top feminist and political blog, Ariana Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post are the world renowned blogging site having millions of monthly visitors.

In Bangladesh With the inspiration of Begum Rokeya, Lila Nag, Sufia Kamal, Hena Das Women’s social and business entrepreneurship is growing in tandem. In City areas higher class and middle class women get touched with the entrepreneurial values and information technology. They are getting smarter day by day to establish business of their own.Rokia Afzal Rahman, Geeti Ara Safia Chowdhury are so well-known face as entrepreneur and social activist.

Micro-credit put an impact on empowerment and entrepreneurship of rural unprivileged women. They learned organizational culture, group behavior and grew a habit of Savings that lead them to have courage to do something by their own.

These successes are motivating indeed. But there are thousands of miles left to go. A Bi-Monthly Business Magazine “Artho-Kantha” enlisted only four women among the best 100 businesspersons and entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. At the end, to get respect from the society women need to be independent economically and psychologically. Brotherhood between men and women will be possible only when women have equal economic and social power to men what entrepreneurship gives to people.


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Mr. Julfikar Islam is currently studying Marketing (4th year) at University of Dhaka. He is truly an organizational being. He has been working with a number of knowledge-based organizations for last 3 years within the University. His area of specialization is Supply Chain Management. He also has an effective knowledge about Branding, Current Market trends. He has been blogging for last 1 year about these issues in a number of national blog and community website.

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