The Essar Foundation is driving social change in rural areas by empowering women through education and training
Recognizing the pivotal role women play in the development and progress of society, the Essar Foundation has identified women’s empowerment as one of its six focus areas.
To ensure the holistic empowerment of women, social, economic and political aspects that influence women’s lives must be addressed. An analysis of the status of women in India reflects a disappointing scenario in almost all important human development indicators. The lack of adequate schools, health centers, drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities hinders a large section of women, inhibiting their social and economic development.
The Women’s program aims to enable women to manage their monetary, physical and intellectual needs. As a consequence, it aims to raise their self-esteem and encourage a sense of security. The Essar Foundation undertakes initiatives focused on health, education, nutrition and financial management for women living in the rural areas near the company’s operations. The activities also encourage beneficiaries to access government services designed for women and children.
Empowering women and encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit is another vital aspect of Essar’s CSR strategy. The Foundation actively seeks opportunities to enable women in rural areas to have a voice in issues that concern them.
- To develop skills through appropriate training
- Encourage capacity building to enhance income opportunities
- To improve reproductive heath through awareness-building
ACTIVITIES & PROJECTS
Skills development and enterprise project
Rural India offers limited employment opportunities and extremely low earnings, particularly for rural women (who are typically uneducated). Recognizing the yet untapped potential of these women, Essar encourages rural women to earn alternate and additional income through self-help groups (SHGs). An SHG mela organized at Dabuna (Odisha), resulted in the formation of and lending guidance to more than 25 SHGs in the region. Similar activities have been undertaken in Chhattisgarh.
The Foundation also provides them the necessary skills training, which helps them not only establish SHGs but manage and build on them to increase their earning potential. The Foundation also links enterprising women with microfinance institutions, thus giving women entrepreneurs crucial financial support that might not be otherwise available to them.
Reproductive health project
It is estimated that every seven minutes, a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth complications in India. This converts into a significant maternal mortality rate of 301 deaths for every 100,000 live births (source: UNICEF).
Additionally, women living in rural areas often suffer from reproductive health problems due to a plethora of socio-cultural and biological reasons. Unequal access to resources, lack of awareness, illiteracy and low decision-making authority are just some of the contributing factors.
The Essar Foundation seeks to better this worrisome scenario by reaching out to women in the reproductive age group. The project creates awareness and provides women with the necessary assistance during and after pregnancy, enabling them to prevent pregnancy-related complications.
The project includes reproductive health camps, immunization camps, doctors’ training, referral transport to tertiary care units, obstetric care and training for auxiliary nurses and midwives. So far more than 5,000 women have benefited from camps for care for expecting mothers and other reproductive and child healthcare initiatives.
Livestock management to increase incomes
More than 70 per cent of rural households depend on livestock farming for supplementary income and 90 per cent of that activity is undertaken by women.
The Foundation creates awareness about livestock welfare through cattle camps and vaccination programs to help improve the productivity of this activity. The activities aim to improve the quality and product yield such as milk and meat, making them more marketable. Women are also encouraged to form dairy cooperatives and poultry farms to increase their earning potential.