The Social Justice Department of Kerala government has proposed an international women’s trade centre (iWTC) in line with the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015.
The proposed trade centre would be the first of its kind facility in the country. Its initial phase is expected to become operational in January 2021. The centre would be constructed in the Social Justice Department’s Gender Park, which is a platform for bringing together gender policy, research, education and social initiatives. The centre would come up in the Gender Park’s main campus in Kozhikode. In the initial stage, the project would give a special focus on providing opportunities for women in the flood-affected areas.
According to the Minister for Health and Social Justice, K K Shailaja, “As more women foray into entrepreneurship and explore other self-employment options in Kerala, there is a need for providing a platform to help them overcome various barriers imposed by society. The iWTC hopes to get potential women entrepreneurs would come forward and participate in international trade, enjoy greater economic benefits, and enhance their competitiveness to tap market opportunities”.
She said the centre would give special focus on hand-holding and bringing economically-weaker women, marginalised groups, and women with disabilities to the forefront by helping to nurture their entrepreneurial capabilities.
Gender Park’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr P T Mohammed Sunish, said: “Women start-ups can be incubated in a high-tech space that will offer fully automated private and shared office spaces, virtual workspaces, common secretarial services, communication facilities, and business guidance centres”. He said the centre would engage local women entrepreneurs and connect them to world markets using the latest technology to build their businesses. It would be the hub that would bring together entrepreneurs, small business owners, industry leaders, business mentors, industry experts, and investors on to a single platform.
The centre is planned as a safe space away from home for women to set up their businesses. It would have creche and day-care centres for kids and adult/senior community centres for the elderly so that women can focus on their jobs and not have to worry about their children and/or aged parents who will be within close proximity.
It would also be a shopping destination catering to the needs of women – from retail fashion and technology outlets to health and wellness centres. This space will be the artery connecting the trade centre to the residential and commercial community of North Kerala.
Apart from having facilities for business and trade, the centre would also include space to promote and showcase performing arts and culture such as dance, music, theatre, and other cultural forms to foster creative self-expression for women.