CSR’s development department aims to better the situation of women in India through making practical and tangible change on a grassroots level. We follow a bottom-up approach in empowering women and encouraging their participation as stakeholders and owners in processes of change.
In order to secure, protect and make full use of their rights, women must be empowered to participate in politics equally with him. We work to build capacities of and strengthen understanding amongst all women in India of a range of pertinent political and legal issues, rights and opportunities, including: relevant governmental schemes; the structure and operation of Panchayats; existing development programs; and legal provisions with implications for women's lives, such as laws pertaining to child marriage, dowry and divorce. Through training sessions and information campaigns, we raise awareness of the gaps that remain between women’s rights as inscribed in legal documents and women’s rights as practiced in daily life, encouraging women to demand and work for equal access to and implementation of the law.
Economic empowerment of women means more than just poverty alleviation: In order to provoke and sustain economic improvements at the grassroots and household levels, women themselves must become wage earners, able to make financial decisions and initiate financial spending and saving independent of men. Mahila Mandals, participatory self-help groups, provide a platform through which women engage in credit and savings initiatives aimed at meeting social financial needs and providing initial investments for micro enterprises. These self-governed groups provide financial and institutional support for women entering the paid workforce, while also offering opportunities for women to participate in skill-based trainings vital for income generation.
In India, life-changing decisions about a woman’s body are often not made by the woman herself, and while admirable and important, the promotion of reproductive health cannot alone result in physical empowerment. We must also address the social roots as to why today’s women remain on the sidelines when it comes to their own physical bodies and well being. Thus, we engage in a range of activities aimed at examining questions such as, why do women have no say in the number of children they bear or when they bear them? Why do social biases such as male child preference trump the well being of women, resulting in long-term negative effects for families and society alike? Through training sessions, research projects and advocacy campaigns, we reveal causes of and encourage formation of solutions to issues such as domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, sex-selective abortion, child abuse and sexual harassment.