It has been proved that extra income in the hands of women leads to significant and positive changes in human development since it is largely spent on children’s education, health and nutrition, and is a catalyst for gendering development. Corporates can definitely empower women right from encouraging them to get educated to earning a livelihood to become productive citizens.
Agents Of Change
ITC has forged an empowering partnership with rural women – the most effective development workers. ITC’s intervention leverages micro-credit and skills training to generate alternate employment opportunities. Increased income in the hands of rural women means better nutrition, health care and education for their children.
Working with NGOs, ITC has helped create sustainable livelihoods for over 62,300 rural women either through micro-enterprises or assistance with loans to pursue income generating activities.
Project SHAKTI is Hindustan Unilever’s initiative for the upliftment of standard of living in rural India by creating income-generating capabilities for under-privileged rural women by providing a small-scale enterprise opportunity, and to improving rural lives through health and Hygiene awareness.
Project SHAKTI is taken up in rural areas only whereby women are the Distributors for HUL products and are called “Shakti Ammas”. Project Shakti now has nearly 80,000 micro-entrepreneurs across 18 states.
Says Rajesh Jejurikar, President, Farm Equipment Sector, Mahindra & Mahindra, “Women farmers are the unsung heroes of our agricultural landscape. They carry a great part of the burden of their family, playing a multidimensional role, despite limited resources and restricted access to knowledge.”
Despite these challenges they are usually paid less than their counterparts. Prerna by Mahindra is based on the insight that women are often the invisible face of agriculture.
“Through Prerna, we aim to empower them with the necessary opportunities, training and equipment to be better skilled and more productive in farming operations,” says Jejurikar.
The first project under Prerna is a collaboration between Mahindra & Mahindra, Central Institution for Women in Agriculture (CIWA), and NGO Pradan. On International Women’s Day, Mahindra & Mahindra and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited also released a nationwide campaign on the Prerna initiative.
Kasturi is an initiative undertaken by TCSRD (Tata Chemical Society for Rural Development) to groom woman farmers as Agripreneurs trained in Customer Relationship Management and work towards enhancing farmers’ income. This is a unique
initiative from TCSRD with ‘Fork to Farm’ approach with farmers learning from the consumers.
Urban consumers including corporate parks, housing colonies, urban women associations give detailed feedback that helps women farmers in planning and converting crops into ready-to-cook or ready-to-eat products at the farm level. Through customized workshops, consumer interaction events and business coaching, Kasturi helps women farmers to realize their leadership potential.
About the Kasturi Journey, Alka Talwar, CSR & Sustainability Chief, Tata Chemicals Ltd. says, “We have come a long way since the launch in 2017. Livelihood enhancement projects that lift employment skills and empower women is an important part of our social and community development initiatives.
TCSRD’s Kasturi initiative enables women farmers to realize their unique strengths and a platform where they can multiply that strength by coming together in a national network.”
The women empowerment initiatives by SOBHA (under the aegis of Sri Kurumba Educational and Charitable Trust) are primarily targeted at widows and girls from economically backward segment. Under the SOBHA Young Mothers Rehabilitation Programme, the Trust offers a comprehensive rehabilitation package for ‘Young Mothers’ (widows).
They are provided with safe and secure living and welfare at absolutely no cost. For these young mothers whose children have grown up, individual self-contained flats have been constructed and allotted for each family. To ensure that they have an emotionally fulfilling life, many young widows are re-married to suitable grooms.
Another programme, SOBHA Rural Women Empowerment, has taken 50 widowed mothers and their children belonging to the Vadakkenchery and Kizhakkenchery panchayat in Kerala under its wing.
They are provided with a basic monthly living allowance, clothing, medical and other personal accessories. Educational expenses of their children are met by the Trust to give them adequate opportunity to come up in life.
The sea change women want will come from collective strategies by organizations and various NGOs at the ground level which go beyond micro-credit to increase endowments of women, and enhance their exchange outcomes vis-à-vis the family, markets, state and community.
This article was first published in the current issue of our print magazine. To grab a copy, click here.
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The CSR Journal Team