Various big enterprises in India are working towards women empowerment and gender equality in a variety of ways.

Corporate initiatives that are championing women-oriented causes

Gender equality is seen as a priority by the government as well as business enterprises. Whether it involves strengthening the female presence at the workforce or creating a better work environment for women, the corporate sector is active in all issues related to gender sensitisation. 

These activities also extend beyond office spaces and penetrate deep into society. Companies often take up various initiatives through their foundations, partner NGOs, and CSR programmes to work towards women empowerment and development. 

Such CSR initiatives address various needs such as livelihood and capacity building, economic support, education, skill development, old-age support, poverty, etc. In this article, we shall take a look at some of the efforts corporates are making towards women empowerment in India.

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Livelihood and capacity building

  • Hindustan Unilever initiated its Project Shakti for financial empowerment and creation of livelihood for rural women. Rural sales promoters trained and nurtured Shakti Entrepreneurs under this project, which aims to train nearly 1.1 lakh women in 18 states across India.
  • ITC Limited started a project to support over 64,000 women from poorer sections of society, which included over 22,000 women from the ultra-poor category. It also provided loans and grants and worked towards the creation of employment opportunities for these women.
  • Hindustan Zinc’s Sakhi project worked towards setting up self-help groups for livelihood, education, skill development, entrepreneurship, etc. Over 1900 SHGs were set up, which saw nearly 24,000 women becoming members. The project was carried out in various districts of Rajasthan. 

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  • Hero Motocorp carries out women-focused programmes in 8 Indian states to promote gender equality and women empowerment. It provided two-wheelers to policewomen for independent movement, which was done by partnering with police departments of the respective states. Short-term vocational courses were offered to increase the employment opportunity of women, and SHGs were formed as a part of the project.
  • Godrej Consumer Products conducts vocational training programme through its initiative Salon-i. It trains women on all the skills required for professional personal grooming like beauty, skincare, haircare, mehendi, etc. The company is working with several organisations to create the next generation of beauty entrepreneurs in the country. 
  • Bandhan Bank aims to help the poorest of the poor in its corporate social responsibility drive. Impoverished and underprivileged women are provided free assets so that they can generate revenue from it and earn a livelihood. Guidance and counselling are provided alongside. The project aims to lift the beneficiary from abject poverty and permanently improve their lifestyle and livelihood.
  • Body Shop India launched Project NARI specifically for the benefit of female rag-pickers. Conducted in association with Plastics for Change Foundation, it welcomes donations from its retail customers. The company consequently aims to sensitise rag-pickers about the health and safety concerns of their occupation. They will be trained to handle plastic waste better in the course of their work.

Skills and education

  • Tata Steel’s multi-pronged approach targets prison inmates, rural children, and women. It has set up self-help groups to develop entrepreneurial skills among women. It has run the project in 95 gram panchayats to work for the benefit of over 10,000 women. 

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  • Microsoft India, along with HOPE Foundation, has a CSR project aimed at providing technology-driven education to young women from economically weaker sections. Artificial Intelligence schools in four states form part of this project, which will educate young women about the latest technologies and prepare them for tech job opportunities.
  • Tata Technologies, in association with Lila Poonawala Foundation, is providing scholarship and guidance to girls from low-income groups. The project will help these girls till the completion of their engineering degrees. 
  • Cummins India works for women empowerment and gender equality through its association with leading NGOs. Its Rise Up programme takes the help of 21 NGOs around Maharashtra and works to close the gender gap, building leaders among women, and community development. 

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Last words

The initiatives taken by various companies towards solving women-centric issues have begun to show encouraging results. It was reported that 72% of BSE-listed companies have disclosed the inclusion of women-oriented projects as a part of their CSR campaigns. When it comes to gender equality and empowering women, the need for support is obvious. And the positive impact of the big businesses in this regard is a step in the right direction.