From media attention about sexual assault to an increased focus on the 33% of women who are illiterate, women’s empowerment in India is a growing national issue. One area in which India lags behind even its neighboring countries in South Asia is in women’s participation in the labor force: only 29% of Indian women work.
When women are restricted to housework and prevented from leaving home, they can’t contribute to the family income, making it difficult for families to escape the cycle of poverty.
To address the issues faced by women in India, READ Global has conducted women’s empowerment programming since our expansion into India in 2007. We are proud to announce a new partnership with the National Mission for Empowerment of Women (NMEW) under the Ministry of Women and Child Development of the Government of India to launch a program to empower women to enter the workforce and become more independent.
The program will provide livelihood training programs and educational workshops to 400 women and 200 female children in India: in the states of Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar.
Three READ Centers are participating in the one-year pilot program, and READ India also set up the fourth location for this program: a new Women’s Resource Center in Bihar.
The livelihood training programs and workshops offered are:
Livelihood Training Programs
- Stitching and sewing training (6 month) to enable women to earn an income making and selling clothes
- Beautician training (6 month) to enable women to start businesses providing henna, skin care, and hairstyling in their communities
- Early childhood care and education training (3 month) for women who wish to become preschool teachers
- Computer training (6 month) to teach women basic computer skills which will help them find higher paying jobs
- Gender rights and gender based violence
- Health workshops
- Adolescent health
- Malnutrition and anemia
- Reproductive health
- Technology for social development to help women make radio programs that voice their concerns, discuss specific issues like health and legal rights with doctors and experts, and broadcast this information to other women in the community
- Literacy programs for children that utilize educational games, toys, and audio-visual tools to teach early reading and numeracy skills
NMEW has also created a unique initiative called Nari Ki Chaupal, to establish spaces for community groups, civil society organizations, and women from various communities to come together, reflect, and create dialogue. All READ Centers have a women’s resource section – a natural space for Nari Ki Chaupal to thrive.
The trainings and workshops are running at all four sites from May through October 2014. A “Master Training” program was conducted in April at the READ Model Center to teach coordinators the skills they need to lead these classes and workshops.
“These trainings are important for rural women because they provide options for better livelihoods. When women learn a new skill it helps them earn an income, which then develops their confidence and builds their esteem in the eyes of their families and society,” says Geeta, READ India Country Director.
About the author:
Helen Greene, READ Global Communications Intern
Helen is a senior at Princeton University studying Comparative Literature. Home for the summer, she is happy to help out at READ Global writing blog and social media posts, among other things. She looks forward to a career in the non-profit field focusing on women’s empowerment, health, and education.