As per the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021, the country has now slipped 28 places to the 140th position in the index. The pandemic has further impacted livelihoods, putting 4 out of every 10 women out of the workforce. A new CSR project called HERS is a step towards bridging this gender gap in Maharashtra.
HERS stands for Health, Education, REVIVE, Skilling, a series of CSR initiatives designed to address fundamental issues faced by women in India including education, sanitation, basic hygiene and employability. It is backed by Vinati Organics Ltd in partnership with Samhita and Collective Good Foundation. Vinati Organics Limited is a manufacturer of specialty chemical and organic intermediaries. Samhita is an impact consulting firm while Collective Good Foundation (CGF) is a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates sustainable and scalable impact across causes such as livelihoods, healthcare and WASH through an operating partnership with Samhita Social Ventures (SSV).
As part of the HERS approach, Vinati Organics, Samhita and CGF have identified some of the primary obstacles to growth and development for girls and women in India. They include low access to education, vulnerability to gender-based violence, low access to digital and financial resources and low labour force participation.
Under the HERS series, Vinati Organics has also joined the REVIVE Alliance to help restore the livelihoods of informal workers and micro entrepreneurs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Vinati Organics has committed to provide returnable grants to 1,500 women farmers, artisans and micro-entrepreneurs (engaged in various occupations ranging from food manufacturing to beauty entrepreneurs, shop owners and many others).
Says Priya Naik, Founder & CEO, Samhita – CGF, “The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected women’s health, livelihoods and education, intensifying existing inequalities and dealing a body blow to their aspirations. It’s imperative that private and public sectors incorporate holistic and yet fundamental approaches in their gender strategies to help expand socio-economic opportunities for girls and women, and address key barriers to their development and inclusion. This is the core objective of our collaboration with Vinati Organics.”
Activities under HERS
Through a series of CSR activities HERS will aim to help women overcome these barriers and support their social and economic growth:
In-school training programme
3,500 adolescent students (girls and boys) from 8-10th grades and 100 teachers will be empowered through essential life skills and gender sensitisation, with Yuva Mitra as the implementing partner.
School sanitation and Behaviour Change Campaign
Over 30,00 students across 5 schools will be provided with access to safe and sustainable sanitation facilities to promote healthy and hygienic practices. Ecosan Services Foundation is the implementing partner
Out-of-school employability programme
With Head Held High Foundation as the implementing partner, 150 out-of-school young adults (18-30 years) from rural communities will be provided essential employability and life-skills training.
320 adolescent girls from disadvantaged and rural communities of Maharashtra, studying in 12th grade will be given scholarships to support the completion of higher secondary education. Buddy4Study India Foundation is the implementing partner for this initiative.
Says Viral Saraf Mittal, CSR Head, Vinati Organics Ltd, “Women are the strongest pillars of society and we believe that the first step towards social and economic development must aim at developing the capabilities and self-reliance of women. HERS perfectly synthesizes our vision for an inclusive and equitable world for women and girls.”