Millions of Indian women entering the country's workforce today are set to make the country 12 per cent richer by 2015 and 25 per cent richer by 2025, according to a recent study commissioned by the private-equity fund Everstone Capital.
In the next five years alone, the trend could add US$35 billion (Dh128.56bn) to GDP - and the country's financial services, education, retail, leisure and entertainment sectors are the most likely winners.
The immense growth is attributed to socioeconomic and cultural shifts taking place in India.
"Improved employment access, education, fall in fertility rates and delayed fertility are all feeding into the structural change and increasing the number of women entering the workforce," said Roopa Purushothaman, the managing director and head of research at Everstone Capital Advisors.
"There is also a big push amongst urban families to have two incomes, and cultural changes are reflecting this because there is now more acceptance towards women working," she said.
Retail brands stand out as major beneficiaries from the change as companies will increasingly tailor their products to the financially independent woman.
"Indian companies are noting the growing female literacy rate, growing working women population, growing social freedom, growing social media networking and the increasing female consumption, and overall it will challenge old male bastions and biases in society as well as change corporate behaviour when it comes to companies branding their products," said Atulit Saxena, the chief operating officer of brands at Future Brands in Mumbai.
Another major shift is the rise in women's income, contributing to the "girl power" economy. A recent survey by the Indian Market Research Bureau (IMRB) showed that the average monthly income of women living and working in urban areas in India had increased from 4,492 rupees (Dh322) in 2001 to 9,457 rupees in 2010. This in turn led to a huge increase in savings.
"We have seen a stupendous growth in the savings accounts owned by women in the last few years - 14 million in 2007 to 29 million in 2011," said Ashish Karnad, the group business director of the IMRB. "The same trend is seen even in credit card ownership: 78 per cent growth in women credit cards owners in the last four years."
Indian women's freedom to make their own decisions has also gone up, shaping marketing and branding trends. "The percentage of women who made decisions about buying household durables like washing machines, refrigerators, cars, etc, has gone up from 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the last few years," said Mr Karnad. "It is also interesting that about 21 per cent of working women today travel to work by car. [That] speaks volumes about the evolution of the Indian woman."
Does it mean women are abandoning their former role of taking care of their families?
Not so, the experts said, since women are finding ways around the challenge.
"In fact, data indicates that women are doing a great balancing act between work and family responsibilities," said Mr Karnad. "The real growth in working women is seen among women who are entrepreneurs or self-employed - juggling family and work commitments."