Coming October 22, Kashmir will register history. First time since the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), a conglomerate of valley-based businessman, was formulated in 1934, a woman candidate will run for its presidential post.
“It’s not easy to stand up as a businesswoman in this male-dominated society. The first difficulty I faced before contesting the polls was my gender. So what if I am efficient, intelligent and innovative, it does not merit in the valley,” said 48-year-old Gazalla Amin, a doctor by profession.
Amin did her MBBS from Srinagar’s Government Medical College and taught Anatomy at Jhelum Valley Medical College for several years. It was only six years ago, she launched Fasiam Agro Farms, which deals with horticulture sector, mainly producing herbal and medicinal products.
“I have been able to galvanise support for the polls. My manifesto is clear. I intend to implement economic policies of the state for businessman,” said Amin, busy drafting plans for the polls to be held on October 22 for the executive body.
Thirty-seven top-notch businessmen are in the fray for the top position in the KCCI - which has 763 members, with only two businesswomen.
Kashmir has negligible presence of businesswomen for being a patriarchy society with deeply-rooted conservative moorings. “Women presence on the business scene is .00001% in Kashmir. This despite the fact most artisans producing carpets, paper machie goods, gabba and namdas (types of local rugs) and shawls etc are women. It’s unfortunate they have no representation anywhere,” said Amin.
Amin is up against odds since the KCCI has become defunct in the last six years due to internal bickering and fracture within the business community.
“I will approach all business bodies to come under one umbrella. I want KCCI to give representation to new emerging sectors besides traditional handicrafts and shawl, like IT, heath, construction, horticulture, tourism etc and needs,” said Amin, who uses social networking sites like Facebook to reach out to business community with her manifesto.
Amin, who intends to launch an awareness camp for female artisans about their rights and micro financing, is a staunch opponent of middlemen culture in business transactions.
“There should one bank where artisans, including hundreds of women sellers, could deposit their goods. This bank should act as an interface between outside market and artisans. No middleman should be there. For this we need to form small clusters of artisans. This will help us to establish accurate policy,” said Amin.
Amin’s contesting KCCI polls is being closed watched by the business community in Kashmir. “I hope my decision to be part of the KCCI will attract more woman entrepreneur and will have positive implication for businesswomen,” said Amin, who could become first KCCI president after 77 years of its existence if elected.