Technology as an enabler for transformation
When I was asked to write this keynote on the current Indian startup ecosystem for women in technology, my mind went back not to the recent debates on diversity and gender, but to a woman I had always admired — Sarojini Naidu. I had been rereading about her life. We know of Naidu as a poet and nationalist, but she was also an ardent feminist. She championed the cause of female suffrage and fought against child marriage, bigamy, sati (widow immolation) and for women’s education during tumultuous times. Before Naidu, Savitrabai Phule had defined a path, opening a school for girls in Pune, becoming India’s first woman educator.
I studied in one of the first schools for girls in Hyderabad established in 1928 by the visionary Madapati Hanumantha Rao, who was a staunch believer in women’s education. I had a wonderful education and still cherish the values I learnt there, values that I see reflected in someone like Vijayalakshmi Pandit, who was the first woman to be president of the UN General Assembly, one of India’s first women parliamentarians and a political stalwart known for her diplomacy.