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International Women’s Day 2023: How Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can help in Achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5: Gender Equality

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Sustainable Development Goal 5 (SDG 5) aims to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is essential for achieving sustainable development. However, gender-based discrimination and violence against women are prevalent in many parts of the world, including India. Corporate philanthropy can play a vital role in achieving SDG 5 targets, and this article will examine five ways that it can help.

1. Supporting Women’s Empowerment Programs

Women’s empowerment programs aim to promote gender equality by providing women with the necessary skills, knowledge, and resources to participate in decision-making processes and lead successful lives. Corporate philanthropy can support women’s empowerment programs by providing funding and resources to organizations that promote gender equality. These programs can include skill development training, financial literacy training, and mentoring programs.
For example, HDFC Bank’s Parivartan program is aimed at empowering women by providing them with financial literacy training and entrepreneurship opportunities. The program has supported thousands of women entrepreneurs in India and has helped promote gender equality in the country.
Another example of such an initiative is the ‘Second Chance’, a Project by Cooperación Internacional, a Spain-based NGO, and Grace Harvest Ministry (GHM), a Mumbai-based NGO working in slum areas, with support from Bergner Group. Together, they aim to rehabilitate the lives of women working in red light areas and give them means to a new livelihood and a source of income. Bergner is a leading kitchenware company originating from Europe and with a growing presence in India. Through this initiative, it has committed support to women working in various red light areas of Mumbai by training them in basic educational, health and legal skills along with job training in the textile sector.

2. Promoting Women’s Health and Well-being

Women’s health and well-being are critical in achieving gender equality. However, women in India face numerous challenges, including limited access to healthcare, high maternal mortality rates, and violence against women. Corporate philanthropy can support women’s health and well-being by providing funding and resources to organizations that promote women’s health and well-being. These programs can include awareness campaigns, health camps, and training for healthcare professionals.
For instance, the Mahindra Group, through its philanthropic arm, the Mahindra Foundation, has launched the Nanhi Kali program, which provides education, healthcare, and nutrition support to underprivileged girls in India. The program has supported the health and well-being of thousands of girls in India and has helped promote gender equality in the country.

3. Supporting Women’s Entrepreneurship

Women’s entrepreneurship can play a crucial role in promoting gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. However, women entrepreneurs in India face numerous challenges, including limited access to finance, technology, and markets. Corporate philanthropy can support women’s entrepreneurship by providing funding, training, and mentorship to women entrepreneurs. These programs can help women overcome the barriers to entrepreneurship and promote gender equality.
For example, Dabur India Limited has launched the Dabur Arogya Entrepreneurship Program, which provides training and funding to women entrepreneurs in the healthcare sector. The program has supported the entrepreneurship of hundreds of women in India and has helped promote gender equality in the country.
Another example of this form of intervention is United Way Mumbai’s Project Saksham, which is supported by Covestro. The project aims to empower underprivileged women from rural Maharashtra by providing them with the necessary resources and training to earn a livelihood. It focuses on capacity building and livelihood generation for women by distributing equipment and material needed for various trades. The project has provided equipment such as beauty parlour kits, cake-making units, flour mills, food service units, and tailoring units, benefiting the women from the community.

4. Supporting Women’s Education

Education is critical in promoting gender equality and empowering women. However, women in India face numerous challenges in accessing education, including poverty, cultural norms, and gender-based discrimination. Corporate philanthropy can support women’s education by providing funding and resources to organizations that promote girls’ education. These programs can include scholarships, school infrastructure development, and teacher training.
For instance, the Tata Group, through its philanthropic arm, Tata Trusts, has launched the Educate a Girl program, which provides scholarships and mentorship to underprivileged girls in India. The program has supported the education of thousands of girls in India and has helped promote gender equality in the country.

5. Supporting Women’s Safety and Security

Women’s safety and security are critical in achieving gender equality. However, women in India face numerous challenges, including violence, sexual harassment, and gender-based discrimination. Corporate philanthropy can support women’s safety and security by providing funding and resources to organizations that promote women’s safety and security. These programs can include awareness campaigns, self-defense training, and legal support.
For example, Hindustan Unilever Limited, through its hygiene and sanitation program, Swachh Aadat, has launched an initiative to promote women’s safety and security. The program has supported the installation of public toilets and sanitation facilities for women and girls in various parts of the country, ensuring that they have access to safe and clean sanitation facilities. The program has also provided awareness campaigns and education to promote good hygiene and sanitation practices, particularly among women and girls.

Conclusion

In conclusion, achieving SDG 5 in India requires a collaborative effort from all stakeholders, including the government, civil society organizations, and the private sector. Corporate philanthropy can play a crucial role in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment by investing in women’s education, supporting women’s entrepreneurship, promoting women’s health and well-being, supporting women’s safety and security, and supporting women’s empowerment programs. By collaborating with other stakeholders and leveraging their resources, companies can help address the challenges that women face and help achieve SDG 5 targets.
However, it is essential to note that corporate philanthropy should not be a substitute for government action in addressing the challenges of gender inequality. Instead, it should complement government efforts and help accelerate progress towards achieving SDG 5. By working together, we can promote gender equality and empower all women and girls, ensuring that they can lead fulfilling lives and make significant contributions to the development of our society.