On the 9th of December, 2023, The CSR Journal celebrated the 6th edition of its Excellence Awards at the prestigious Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), Dalal Street, Mumbai. True to its tradition, the overarching theme for this year’s awards was ‘India First,’ underscoring a dedicated emphasis on Youth Empowerment. Among the outstanding projects recognised, the Women Empowerment and Child Welfare category showcased a remarkable commitment to catalysing positive change across the nation.
Claiming first place in the prestigious award was Tata Communications, with its innovative and impactful initiative: “MPowered – Mobile Connections to Promote Women’s Economic Development”. Following closely in second place was Indusind Bank Financial Services’ project: Child Welfare and Intellectual Growth of School Children from Aspirational Districts through Nurturing Innovative & Entrepreneurial Mind-set”. Rounding off the top three was Parexel International (India) Private Limited, with its project “GendHer”.
Let us delve into the details of these transformative initiatives that have earned them the top spots in The CSR Journal Excellence Awards 2023.
MPowered – Mobile Connections to Promote Women’s Economic Development – by Tata Communications
Tata Communications emerged as the winner in the Women Empowerment and Child Welfare category at The CSR Journal Excellence Awards 2023 for its transformative MPowered initiative. Launched in 2016, MPowered is a beacon of empowerment for ultra-poor women, living on less than $1.90 per day. The project leverages mobile technology to drive sustainable livelihood development, focusing on digital, social, and financial inclusion.
The project’s comprehensive approach, executed in collaboration with state chapters of the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), encompasses a multifaceted strategy. This strategy involves tailored livelihood planning and training, the provision of seed capital grants, integration into Self Help Groups (SHGs), and ongoing coaching by ‘Smart Sakhis’—remarkable women from the community who provide crucial support.
One standout facet of the initiative is the deployment of a custom-designed mobile app known as the “Package of Practices.” This app serves as a step-by-step vernacular guide, offering insights into organic cultivation, financial management, and social protection schemes. Its objective is to empower participants to adopt efficient agricultural, livestock, and business practices.
The project has seamlessly integrated itself with the National Rural Livelihoods Mission, forging collaborations with Odisha Livelihoods Mission and Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society. This partnership involves the capacity building of change agents aligned with the Smart Sakhis, amplifying the project’s impact.
In a notable collaboration with Tata Consultancy Services, the initiative initiated a pilot functional literacy program targeting Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) communities, thereby expanding its reach and impact.
At the core of MPowered is the Graduation approach, specially designed for ultra-poor households, offering a sustainable pathway out of poverty through the generation of livelihoods. The project’s Phase I concentrated on improving livelihood opportunities through the graduation approach and digital integration. In Phase II, interventions aimed to amplify financial and social integration, productivity, sustainability, and diversity of livelihood activities.
In its evolution from Phase I to Phase II, MPowered expanded from 1800 to 2800 participants, strengthening sustainability by augmenting the knowledge base, customising digital coaching tools, and providing additional skill-building inputs. This expansion aimed at not just empowering individuals but also enhancing the responsiveness of government programs to the nuanced needs of extremely poor households.
In the recent Phase III, concluded in FY23, the project aligned itself with Tata Communications’ CSR strategy (2022-24), incorporating a 360-degree focus on People, Planet, and Community. This alignment facilitated the integration of climate change adaptation and mitigation components into Trickle Up’s core Graduation programs, thereby increasing the sustainable impact of the initiative. Furthermore, it built pathways for participants to continue their economic and social progress after completing a Graduation program, accelerated the development of digital tools to expand their utility, and specifically supported large-scale institutions in diminishing barriers and enhancing outreach services to the most marginalised and traditionally excluded.
Tata Communications’ MPowered initiative stands as a beacon of inclusive growth, leveraging technology to empower and uplift the most vulnerable and marginalised women in India.
Child Welfare and Intellectual Growth of School Children from Aspirational Districts through Nurturing Innovative & Entrepreneurial Mind-set – by IndusInd Bank Financial Services
Recognised as the first runner-up at The CSR Journal Excellence Awards 2023 in the Women Empowerment and Child Welfare category, the project titled “Child Welfare and Intellectual Growth of School Children from Aspirational Districts through Nurturing Innovative & Entrepreneurial Mind-set” stands out as an exemplary initiative dedicated to fostering intellectual growth and child welfare.
This project delves into STEM education, an interdisciplinary pedagogical approach uniting Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Its overarching aim is to instil a holistic learning paradigm, emphasising the interconnectedness of these disciplines. By nurturing critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving skills, the initiative is designed to prepare young minds for future careers in STEM-related fields.
At its core, the project revolves around optimising the efficient utilisation of Atal Tinkering Labs, integral to the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). These labs serve as state-of-the-art workspaces, promoting problem-solving skills among students. However, the project recognises the challenges faced by these labs, particularly the lack of knowledge and skills among school teachers to effectively integrate the STEM approach into their classrooms.
The rationale behind this CSR project is deeply rooted in India’s push for innovation, as reflected in the “Decade of Innovation” and initiatives like AIM. Despite progress, the country grapples with challenges such as low employability among STEM graduates and gender disparity in the workforce. Thus, the initiative steps in to bridge these gaps, offering extensive resources and robust support/mentorship for students and teachers alike.
Highlighted within this project are the achievements of young minds, such as the “Blood Donor HUB” project from BPV Sala Higher Secondary School, securing the first prize, and other commendable projects like the “CO2 Emission Control System” and the “Smart Security System.” Beyond accolades, the initiative extends its impact through the selection of students for the Bihar Innovation Challenge 2023 and the recognition of innovators like Ms Atulya Bharti, acknowledged by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
In essence, this award-winning project signifies not just recognition but a transformative force, poised to empower the intellectual growth and welfare of school children in aspirational districts. By nurturing an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset, the initiative contributes significantly to the nation’s educational landscape and lays the groundwork for a future generation of skilled and empowered individuals.
Project GendHer – by Parexel International (India) Private Limited
Project GendHer, by Parexel International (India) Private Limited, secured the second runner-up position at The CSR Journal Excellence Awards 2023 in the Women Empowerment and Child Welfare category. This initiative focuses on building gender sensitivity among students and imparting crucial knowledge on the health and sanitation of girls during menstruation. Guided by the Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) framework, the campaign operates through three distinct pillars. It involves enhancing teachers’ KAP to create a conducive atmosphere for students to discuss gender and menstruation freely, improving infrastructure related to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in schools, and integrating gender sensitivity talks and menstrual hygiene management discussions into the school curriculum.
In the initial phase, the GendHer campaign witnessed the training of 16 teachers as GendHer Champions, with an additional 30 teachers being oriented by these champions. A KAP study involving around 500 students and 50 teachers provided valuable insights into their perspectives on key topics. Armed with age-appropriate content, teachers educated students, resulting in over 1000 children gaining knowledge on GendHer. The project also addressed tangible needs by providing hygiene kits to 600 girls and deploying safe sanitary pad incinerators and dispensers in intervention schools.
The rationale behind the GendHer project lies in recognising the importance of making the next generation sensitive to reproductive health and gender-related issues. In a country with 243 million adolescents, ensuring a complete understanding of reproductive health and gender sensitivity becomes paramount. The campaign aims to counter misinformation prevalent on the internet and challenges posed by societal taboos around discussing menstruation, reproductive health, and gender roles.
The project underwent adaptation to address challenges in maintaining a 50-50 ratio of male and female teachers as GendHer champions. Inclusivity was ensured by training more female teachers, with male teachers serving as a common resource for other schools. The overarching goal is to create a cadre of 10,000 teachers as GendHer champions, delivering key messages on reproductive health and gender sensitivity to 4 lakh students in Karnataka by 2024.
Read this article to delve deeper into the highlights of The CSR Journal Excellence Awards 2023.