Women empowerment is all about what it is that women can be, do, and accomplish in circumstances that are usually denied to them. It also gives the ability to women to enjoy their right to control and benefit from the resources, assets, income and their own time, as well as the ability to manage risk and improve their economic status and well being.
Gender equality is the state of equal ease of access to opportunities and resources including economic participation and decision-making; and the state of valuing different behaviors, aspirations and needs equally, regardless of gender.
Over the past decade, gender equality and women’s have been specifically recognized as key not only to the nation’s health but also to economic and social development. As corporate social responsibility (CSR) deals with corporate’s responsibility towards society, talking about women population becomes equally important. The corporate world now recognizes women in each and every possible area in which it functions. Society’s development without the development of women is unimaginable.
In UN’s (SDG) Sustainable Development Goals too, UN recognizes that for sustainable future development, the conditions of the women would have to be improved across the globe. As a result, it has dedicated entire Goal 5 towards bringing about Gender Equality.
Since gender inequality constitutes one of the history’s most widespread and persistent forms of injustice, eliminating it will call for one of history’s largest movements for change. Females continue to suffer discrimination and violence in every part of the world. Gaps in gender equality exist in every sector. In South Asia, only 74 girls were registered in primary school for every 100 boys in 1990. By 2012 too, the registration ratios were the same. The gender pay gap costs global economy $160 trillion. Only 23.7% of all national parliamentarians are women. One in three women experiences some form of sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes. This diminishes and demotivates their spirit further. UN recently initiated “Me Too” campaign and many leading women celebrities joined to convey a simple message that women should speak up for them and should live with dignity as this should not mark an end to their life purpose. They have the right to live with dignity and respect after being victimized too.
The plight is miserable and improving the status of women calls for the issue to be taken-up seriously by major stakeholders of the society. The role of corporates thus becomes more pronounced here. The corporates through their CSR activities and otherwise, play a major role in the development of society and economy as a whole. Many of the corporates have realized it and are working seriously towards women welfare. Many corporates have given notable contribution to the cause of women empowerment and gender equality.
Greenway Grameen Infra (GGI):
CGI was founded by Neha Juneja and Ankit Mathur to create sustainable solutions for the rural market. Their first product was a clean cookstove, called the Greenway Smart Stove. CGI’S team consists of designers, technology experts, sociologists and marketers who worked with rural communities to create the Greenway Smart Stove design. Their stove saves 65 percent fuel and reduces carbon emissions by 80 percent, thereby benefiting the health of women in rural areas. CGI’s efforts have won it many prizes. After designing a great stove, GGI’s next challenge is to decrease the cost of the stove and increase sales.
HUL’s SHAKTI: SHAKTI refers to ‘Strength’. Project SHAKTI is HUL’s initiative to raise the standard of living in rural India by creating income-generating capabilities for underprivileged rural women by providing small-scale enterprise opportunity and to make rural lives better through Hygiene and Health awareness. Project SHAKTI is doing well in rural areas whereby females who are called “Shakti Ammas” are the Distributors for HUL products. This identity is ushering prosperity in their lives and also self-respect.
Project DRISHTI: Whisper helped to restore the eyesight of 250 blind girls through corneal transplant operations where P&G contributed Re.1 for every pack of whisper sold.
Ayzh (pronounced “eyes”), Blank Noise Project, Datahalli, Sakha Consulting Wings ,Jayaashree Industries, REVIVAL Style, The Maids’ Company (TMC), rangSutra etc. are examples of some more initiatives in this field.
There is a need for such valuable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns from prominent companies which can definitely change fate and face of women in Indian society.
Corporate social responsibility for women empowerment can become a beam of hope in many ways right from changing attitude towards women in the society to making females independent physically, financially and socially by practicing some more measures such as: A country like India should especially advocate for corporate social responsibility as it can be a possible remedy for many issues like illiteracy, poverty, child labor, unemployment, and rural development. Women related issues need important attention from government, society and especially from the corporate sector, India is developing in all possible areas but there are certain areas where development is almost stagnant and gender discrimination is one of them.
Corporates can definitely empower women right from encouraging them to get education till getting respectable livelihood to become productive citizens. Corporates can encourage women empowerment and gender equality not only externally but also internally by giving a fair share to women workforce and looking after and catering to the needs of women.
By Bhawana Munet & Shubhi Mehta