The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and wellbeing, is being increasingly recognized. The buzz around Rural Women’s Day instituted by the United Nations is one sign of this acknowledgement.
Govt. package on Rural Women’s Day
The Indian government is taking note. The Union Cabinet has approved a special package amounting to Rs 520 crores for the Union Territories of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM). The DAY-NRLM is a centrally sponsored programme that aims at eliminating rural poverty through promotion of multiple livelihoods for the rural poor households across the country. Addressing a press conference, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that 10.58 lakh women will get benefit from the special package of Rs. 520 crore in the next five years.
The Ministry of Rural Development through its programme Deendayal Antodaya Yojna – National Rural Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NRLM) has also been instrumental in promoting and supporting women enterprises in rural areas. The Mission has so far supported over three hundred thousand women entrepreneurs through various farm and non-farm interventions.
Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.
Here’s what corporate social responsibility (CSR) in India is doing to honour Rural Women’s Day 2020.
CSR on Rural Women’s Day
1. A CSR initiative for rural women by Kothari Sugars and Chemicals with the support of Rotary Club of Kattur covered women living in villages surrounding Lalgudi in Tamil Nadu. The project empowered women living Below Poverty Line. Over 200 beneficiaries of the tailoring project launched during 2016 under BH Kothari Women Empowerment Scheme in Lalgudi area are now able to find a regular source of income.
2. Project Okhai, established by TCSRD (Tata Chemicals) with a mission to encourage and empower women in the rural areas, has launched a helpline for artisans across the remotest parts of India on the occasion of Rural Women’s Day 2020.
Okhai’s fundamental objective to launch this helpline (number 6359 021 888) is to reach out to the tribal and rural artisans in India and help them become independent and self-reliant. The support for grievances will be provided in collaboration with Creative Dignity group of volunteers supporting the crafts industry through the pandemic.
3. In 2018, through the National Rural Economic Transformation Project (NRETP), the Ministry and the World Bank collaborated to build on the learnings from DAY-NRLM and pilot a new generation of economic initiatives including high-growth entrepreneurship models in 13 low-income states of India. The project aims to support about eighty thousand rural enterprises by June 2023.
4. To further propel NRLM’s vision of creating a robust enabling entrepreneurial ecosystem for women in rural India, a technical assistance programme, Solutions for Transformative Rural Enterprises and Empowerment (STREE) was set-up. The STREE programme is spearheaded by LEAD at Krea University and is supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
5. Rotary International members across India work to strengthen local entrepreneurs particularly women in impoverished communities. One such story is of Rotarian Binish Desai who has created a Micro Social Enterprise for Women Empowerment. Valsad-based Binish has initiated Eco Light Studio. The intention behind this initiative is to empower rural women by creating opportunities to help them thrive financially and socially. He conducts regular training sessions for rural women in and around villages in Gujarat to make clocks, bags, jewellery, festival products and other accessories from industrial waste.
To develop skills and empower women in rural areas and to eliminate the concept of waste by ‘converting waste into assets’, Desai is promoting sustainable rural infrastructure. Instead of having one big factory, Binish has micro-factories spread across different villages so that each village can have its own employment source to make these handmade bricks and products.