Why Young Women are the Key to Public Policy’s Future

Session Report
Ritika Sen

Introduction

#IMPRI Gender Impact Studies IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organized “YWLPPF Young Women Leaders in Public Policy Fellowship- Winter’24”, a two-month online immersive introductory leadership certificate training fellowship program to empower young women to become effective leaders in the field of public policy through a comprehensive learning experience delivered by leading women experts in the field.

On Day 2, the distinguished panel of experts included Miss Urvashi Prasad, and our program chair, Professor Vibhuti Patel. The second half of the session was put in motion by Miss Urvashi Prasad introducing the second topic of the day, “Catalysts for Change: Young Women Pioneering a New Era in Public Policy”, taking us through her own journey in the public policy space, and how we need more women entering, and taking charge of the issues at the grassroot level.

Groundwork for Impact: The Crucial Role of Social Understanding in Effective Policymaking

Miss Urvashi began the discussion with an interesting anecdote revolving around designing a slum sanitation project from the early years of her career. She examined the pilot project aimed at improving sanitation in a Delhi slum, which highlighted the value of hands-on experience and the reality of unexpected hurdles in policy implementation. She helped the participants understand how things really work on the ground as compared to the policies on paper that we usually rely on. Her story also made the participants reflect on the importance of execution, understanding the communities and recipients affecting through the policy, and the effect of any unforeseen circumstances on a policy.

Miss Urvashi emphasized the significance of understanding the community, people, and complicated social and cultural factors, including religious beliefs before constructing any type of public policy. She encouraged participants to gain such practical experience in the development sector for those interested in public policy. One of the key points she focused on was the ability to empathize with and understand human beings in order to conduct a proper stakeholder analysis before any policy is rolled out. She pointed out the edge women have when it comes to understanding and realizing sensitive situations, and another solid reason for more women to enter the public policy space.

Challenges and Opportunities for Young Women in Public Policy

As Miss Urvashi pointed out the edge women have in the public policy arena due to their ability to understand and comprehend sensitive circumstances, she also highlighted the hurdles women face in the same space.  She recalled from her own experiences the inherent gender bias that exists whenever you enter a discussion, meeting, etc., especially if you are someone young. Miss Urvashi acquainted the participants with such discriminatory scenarios they might face in the future and strengthened their spirits to be prepared to face the same. 

As someone who has been in this field for a long period of time, Miss Urvashi also highlighted the growing opportunities for young women in public policy. She discussed how young women bring in a much-needed realistic perspective in this field, and the country, policymakers, at each and every level require such vision. From her own professional journey, she focused the attention of the participants towards gaining extensive prior experience, such as working in the development sector as it is truly required to understand the pulse of the people for whom we are implementing public policies.

Experience, Women, and Public Policy

Whilst bringing the increase in opportunities for young professionals to the fore, Miss Urvashi urged the participants to keep learning and educating themselves about the latest updates in their particular field in order to be relevant to the organization of their choice. She also highlighted the need to understand the community and its dynamics in public policy design, emphasizing the unique advantages women bring to the table, such as empathy.

Miss Urvashi termed her experience in Niti Ayog for the past seven years invaluable and advised the participants to gain such holistic experience as well. Also, she suggested the participants to be adaptable in the face of various types of challenges as public policy being a space where unforeseeable situations are not rare, one must remain flexible and mentally prepared.

Conclusion

On the second topic of the day, “Catalysts for Change: Young Women Pioneering a New Era in Public Policy”, Miss Urvashi Prasad, the director and vice chairman of Niti Ayog, shared her journey in the public policy space, noting the value of her experience in the development sector. Finally, she urged young women to get out of their comfort zones and confidently participate in debates and gatherings.

Acknowledgement: This article was posted by Ritika Sen, a research intern at IMPRI.

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