Through women empowerment, companies are bridging socio-economic gaps
Coming to the girls’ aid
Started in 1996, the objective of Project Nanhi Kali is “to support underprivileged girl children in India with 10 years of quality, formal education.” Since 2005, Project Nanhi Kali has been jointly managed by K.C. Mahindra Education Trust and Naandi Foundation – two independent and reputed ‘not for profit’ organisations.
The programme components include 1-2 hours’ after-school academic support classes, where concepts of maths and language are taught to the girls to improve learning outcome, thereby enabling girls to reach their grade-specific competency levels. A kit comprising uniforms, shoes, note books, stationery, school bag & hygiene material is also provided to them. The communities are sensitised to change the attitude towards girls’ education.
The programme has also started 84 centres for adolescent girls in five states. These community-based centres are safe spaces where young girls (16-21 years) are trained in computer skills, English, financial literacy, health and nutritional awareness, along with physical fitness, to enable the girls to build a life of dignity and self-respect.
The project currently provides educational support to over 130,751 underprivileged girls across 11 states of India. From inception in 1996 to date, the project has supported 300,000 underprivileged girls. Noteworthy outcomes of the project include curtailing dropout amongst girls to less than 10 per cent in project areas and increase in learning outcomes by 10-20 per cent every year.
About 14,660 Nanhi Kalis have completed Grade 10. However, over 50 per cent of Nanhi Kali projects’ locations were in remote rural or tribal areas of India, where the Nanhi Kali team found it challenging to find qualified tutors for ‘after school’ support provided to secondary school girls.
This challenge has now been overcome through a unique digital solution, referred to as the Yellow Tablet Revolution. The solution incorporates digital learning by providing girls in secondary school tablets with preloaded educational content. The pilot phase was rolled out in January 2017 in Varanasi, Barabanki, Ratlam, Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida & Mumbai, with 14,262 Nanhi Kalis undergoing this ‘tablet based learning’ in over 500 centres.
Project Nanhi Kali, the flagship csr project of the Mahindra group, supports the education of 57,701 girls on a yearly basis. Further, over 8,000 individual and corporate donors globally support the education of underprivileged girls through Project Nanhi Kali.
While aligning with the government’s beti padhao, beti bachao programme and contributing to development issues, which are a national priority, Project Nanhi Kali’s plans include scaling up to other states where education of girls needs to be made a priority – in states such as J&K. The project’s goal is to help emancipate 1 million girls.
Crisil Foundation’s flagship financial capability building programme Mein Pragati empowers disadvantaged communities by strengthening their financial capabilities. Mein Pragati focusses on generating demand for affordable financial solutions. It helps give women a stronger sense of control over finances: by introducing them to goal-based financial planning, mitigating risks through relevant insurance products, and empowering them to partake in financial decisions.
Women undergo financial literacy workshops at their doorsteps, make guided bank/atm visits, listen to periodic ivr-based audio messages and benefit from an ecosystem facilitating financial linkages. The Mein Pragati Android application enables evaluation of each participant’s budget diary, and financial health-card-based counseling, making each aware of
Village-based Crisil Mitras and Crisil Sakhis are trained to facilitate linkages and address immediate financial needs of their communities. Crisil Mitras, typically young adults with minimum qualification of passing Class xii, facilitate financial capacity building interventions.
Once recruited, Crisil Mitras undergo intensive Train the Trainer sessions. Their performance indicators are in line with Mein Pragati programme goals. Thereafter, the Mitras periodically undergo need-based training following assessments.
Village-level volunteers, called Crisil Sakhis, then continue to engage with participants to reiterate good financial practices through audio-messages, monitor progress and address immediate financial needs. The Sakhis are enterprising women who have participated in Mein Pragati.
This trained network of Crisil Mitras and Sakhis championing financial inclusion remain in Mein Pragati catchment areas after the project concludes, acting as a force multiplier. Mein Pragati focusses on existing collectives to enable an ecosystem that sustains behavioural change, encouraging peer-learning, a renowned precept of adult learning. The programme’s project areas are not limited to Crisil’s areas of operations, but steps into underserved and traditionally backward territories.
The Foundation intends to achieve scale by creating a network of 1,500 trained Sakhis in Mein Pragati catchment areas, who are trained and certified community workers. Over 300 trained Sakhis are working in their communities in Rajasthan and Assam.
The company intends to now create a pan-India cadre of Sakhis at the grassroots level. The ultimate goal is a self-sustainable network of Sakhis across rural India in a phased manner. Using real-time applications, on-call support, or an online platform to resolve queries, promote digital literacy, and enable convergence with financial service providers, based on unique socio-economic profiles.
In Assam and Rajasthan, Mein Pragati is the bridge between financial service providers and rural women. Lack of access to financial service providers is largely resolved by interventions, creating apprehensions about continuity in financial services.
Mein Pragati has seen participation from over 25,000 self-help groups, involving 27,000 women. More than 25,000 bank accounts have been facilitated under Mein Pragaiti, 46,000 insurance policies sold, 355 cattle insurance policies, subscriptions for 197 pension plans, and 1,645 kisan credit cards.
Breaking the barrier
imfa’s Project Unnati envisages social transformation in the hands of women by empowering them through capacity building on savings and credit, training on livelihood and life skill development for socio-economic transformation. The project puts 12-15 women in a self-help group through a training process of 151 meetings over an an average time of three years. The project follows two models of empowerment – economic empowerment and social empowerment.
This includes the formation of mutual support groups to commence savings activities, to improve existing income-generating activities, and to identify and start up more profitable activities. The shgs are provided regular training on preventive health, awareness on nutrition, safe drinking water, hygiene practices like hand wash, etc.
For Unnati, the company has partnered with the department of agriculture, government of Odisha, for training of women farmers in farming and non-farm activities such as sri paddy cultivation, vegetable cultivation, vermi-compost preparation, etc, and with Department of animal husbandry for livestock development, such as poultry and goat rearing.
In Project Unnati, the initial challenge was to convince the community members to allow women to come for trainings. Women suffer from ignorance, gender bias, social constructs and traditional mind-set. People were made to understand that investment in such projects would bring about significant changes in the socio-economic status of the household and ensure a brighter future for the family, children and the community.
Since 2011, total savings of the 81 shgs is R42.35 lakh. Sustainable income of R30,000 per annum is now generated for each of the 908 women members of 81 shgs through new income generating activities.
Project Unnati already covers 19 villages in three districts with 81 shgs covering 1,500 women beneficiaries. With four years of experience, the company is now expanding the project, targeting 3,500 additional women by 2020.
Indian Oil Corporation
Assam Oil School of Nursing (aosn), Digboi, a venture of public sector Indian Oil Co, was established with the objective of providing professional training to the unemployed girls in nursing and midwifery courses. The course is expected to improve their employability and empower them and make available quality healthcare professionals in the region and, thereby, support economically disadvantaged families in the region.
The project is implemented directly by Indian Oil with no help from external agency. Indian Oil aod Hospital at Digboi Refinery supports the institution in every possible way. The principal and teaching staff has been hired on contractual basis. The infrastructure for the institute: land, building, power, other amenities are provided by Indian Oil.
Since Assam Oil School of Nursing is located in the northeast corner of India, where communication challenges are plenty, it is difficult to find teaching faculty. Often, faculties have to be brought from Guwahati but keeping them for long, year after year is a huge challenge.
The institute provides quality professional training to girls in the north-east region. It empowers women with skills so that they are able to find professional opportunities. It makes available quality healthcare staff and, in general, brings social change and prosperity in the region.
There has been an improvement of availability of qualified nurses and medical services in Assam & North East since the institute was set up. Young girls belonging to under-privileged and economically backward families are trained as nursing professionals and have found stable careers, earning livelihood and economically empowered. About 60 students are enrolled every year (from 2015-16). So far, 410 girls have successfully completed gnm course and the placement record is 100 per cent.
To meet the growing need for more nursing professionals, another course (B Sc Nursing) was introduced in 2014. The annual intake capacity has been increased from 30 to 60. A separate new building is under construction to cater to the higher strength of students.
Latest equipment, books, faculties are being provided to the students. Students are taught community development and given rural postings so as to integrate with society, while studying. In due course, the company has plans to scale up the institute to increase its intake capacity.
Dare, a nationwide movement for women’s safety initiated by mspl, is part of the Baldota group’s activities to train women to defend themselves in any situation and take charge of their own safety. The girls are educated about the strategies and skills required to deal with any untoward situation like possible sexual threats, offences and attacks.
The company has trained about 2,000 women, 73,000 girls in 538 schools and colleges across Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Pune, Nashik, Hyderabad, Delhi and all distracts of Karnataka. The dare programme has been well accepted and recognised by the girls and education institutions, who have benefited from this programme. Based on feedback and demand, the company will extend the programme to Goa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in 2017-18.
mspl has recruited five master trainers, who are trained to teach self-defense techniques to groups and help them master the practical aspects. Individual schools and colleges across various cities were approached and requested to arrange for self-defence sessions with dare for their girl students.
The team of master trainers then travels to these locations and conduct sessions. Each session is two hours long and covers theory and practical lessons. The company has also implemented the programme for its female employees and across adopted villages.
Most schools and colleges were initially not keen on taking efforts to set up the workshops. A lot of convincing, right from the state, district, and individual school levels had to be done to implement the programme. The company now plans to take the programme across India and empower at least 500,000-600,000 girls by 2020, by teaching them self-defence techniques.
Know thy right
IndusInd Bank, while providing loans to women from weaker sections of society, under the bank’s microfinance programme in Madhya Pradesh, found that in a few instances, the beneficiary group of women faced domestic abuse at their homes.
Women in rural and semi-rural regions did not have access to formal bank-backed financial credit – even though access to micro-credit makes them financially independent. Moreover, women are subject to domestic abuse and are not aware of their legal rights. Thus providing legal rights literacy training informs women of their rights and entitlements and various laws that can protect them.
As a response to this social issue, the bank created a platform wherein it could engage the women in a continuous manner and educate them on their legal rights. A model was created wherein a formal channel was created for them to receive training and education. There are now facilities for even family counselling.
Through the sessions, women are educated on their legal rights and how to assert the same in situations such as domestic abuse and violence. Initially, women found it difficult to raise a strong voice against the family member who was causing the trauma. Continuous sensitisation and training sessions have helped them to identify these behaviours and made them aware of the legal course of action such as opting for counselling for the family. This involves transformation of a mindset for the women as well as their family members.
The awareness and recognition that the issue needs to be addressed rather than suffering, has been a major output of the bank’s initiatives. Secondly, setting up the framework and sensitising the law enforcement machinery of the way to deal with the issue when a complainant wants to lodge a complaint.
More than 30,000 women have been trained through the programme so far. About 21 women from among 56 participants (29 from Sagar and 27 from Gwalior), were selected as Community Catalysts. With the support of Community Catalysts at the local level the process of organising women into grassroots groups was accelerated by initiating formation of 20 Local Committees in Gwalior and Bhopal. Currently, 10 cases, including five new, of domestic violence of which four are of severe sexual violence inflicted by spouse, are being followed up by Samhita team.
The bank intends to broaden the reach of this programme to more districts of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and other states in the country.