India is among one of the fastest developing nations, but its growth isn’t inclusive and deep-rooted challenges remain, including women empowerment. It’s a known fact that economic empowerment of women has played an important role in enabling socio-economic growth.
Last year, Christine Lagarde, chief of International Monetary Fund at W20, stated, “If the number of female workers were to increase to the same level as the number of men, GDP in the United States would expand by 5 per cent, by 9 per cent in Japan, and by 27 per cent in India.” However, it requires steady support from public policies and access to educational and employment opportunities.
Meanwhile, here are some of the ways organizations in India are empowering women:
- Educating Girl Child: Educating a woman can set off a chain reaction that transforms the life of her family and the community she lives in. The education of women is therefore essential. Nearly 70% population lives in rural areas where cultural norms and lack of access to quality school or teacher makes it challenging for girls to get educated. However, many nonprofits such as Indus Action, Salaam Balaak, Oxfam India and SOS Children’s Village India etc. are addressing this problem in different ways to provide children, especially girls, to get an education.
- Vocational Training: Poverty creates challenges for all of India’s poor, but women are forced into early marriages, begging or prostitution to cope with the situation. Many nonprofits are now focusing on helping women develop tangible skills to become economically independent. From stitching, knitting and weaving to driving and operating industrial machines, women are
now working across sectors to support themselves. Organizations such as Women on Wings, Sewa, and Seva Mandir among many others.
- Seeding women-run businesses: Women entrepreneurs create new jobs for not only for themselves, but also others and ultimately they become a source of economic growth. But gender biases creates challenges for women to start a business or scale an existing one – including societal discrimination, limited exposure, lack of access to formal financial sources. Over the last few years, micro-entrepreneurs across cities and villages are being enabled by government programs such as MUDRA Credit Guarantee Fund (CGF) and microfinance organizations such as Bandhan and Arohan that work with local nonprofits to identify women micro-entrepreneurs.
- Supporting their basic health needs: Menstruation is a nightmare for most women, due to the taboo nature of the topic, most women, especially in the rural areas and slums, and lack of affordable alternatives. Of the 353 million women and adolescent girls menstruating across India, only 12 percent can afford sanitary napkins. Others have to resort to unhygienic
sanitary practices that can lead to severe infections. Organizations such as Menstrupedia, Azadi, SheCup, Goonj, Ecofemme, Jatan Sansthan and Mythri Speaks among many others are addressing this issue by providing affordable substitutes and educating people about menstruation and basic hygiene.
As an individual, how can you help empower women? By simply finding a nonprofit that you’d want to support and start a campaign with us to create awareness about the cause and raise funds from friends and family.