Kashmir's 79-year-old business group, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI), has broken the glass ceiling by electing its first woman office-bearer.
Gazalla Amin, owner of Fasiam Agro Farms, which mainly produces herbal and medicinal products, won 372 votes out of the 471 polled by 1,000-plus members of the group, and was elected treasurer of the KCCI, which held its polls on November 30 and declared the results on Saturday.
"I stood at number nine in the polls. I think, without male support, it was not possible to emerge a winner," said Amin, who has an MBBS degree.
Amin started her company seven years ago "to make a point in this male-dominated business arena of the Valley."
Kashmir has a negligible presence of businesswomen, with only two women members in the KCCI.
"Women's presence on the business scene in Kashmir is a mere .00001%. This is in spite of the fact that most artisans producing carpets, papier mâché goods, gabba and namdas (types of local rugs) and shawls are women. It is unfortunate that they have no representation anywhere," said Amin.
Several businessmen have welcomed the election of Amin. "It is good to have a woman's perspective in the KCCI after seven decades. I am hopeful of seeing fresh ideas being worked on with Amin's entry in the group," said a businessman who voted for Amin, on the condition of anonymity.
Amin first contested KCCI polls in 2012, but failed to garner enough support.
Sheikh Ashiq, the young director of the Al-Khuddam Group of Companies, has been elected as the president of KCCI.