Daughters Of Corporate ResponsibilityMegha | February 18, 2016
“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I am afraid of no one” – Malala Yousafzai
The decline in child sex ratio (defined as the number of girl per 1000 boys in the age group of 0 to 6 years) in India is overwhelming. The ratio saw a decline from 945 in the year 1991 to 927 in the year 2001. Its further decline to 918 in 2011 is disturbing as it’s symptomatic of the state of women’s disempowerment in the country.
Rigorous and collaborative effort towards the protection and empowerment of girls across the country is the need of the hour. The present government, lead by PM Narendra Modi, has announced the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative with the following objectives:
- Prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination
- Ensuring survival and protection of the girl child
- Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
That said, the government doesn’t claim monopoly over this cause. Corporates too can embody its ideology in their CSR activities.
In section 135 of The Companies Act of 2013, schedule VII mentions a list of initiatives that a company can cover under its CSR program. Here are three relevant points of focus that an organization can include in their CSR efforts:
- Promotion of education
- Promoting gender equality and empowering women
- Reducing child mortality and improving maternal health
The trend of focusing on female health, education, and empowerment is prevalent in the CSR culture of many organizations. These companies have either conceived their own programs or have associated themselves with various NGOs that are actively involved in the cause.
Some of these programs take an indirect approach to bettering the lot of the girl child. Strong female figures in their lives go a long way towards ensuring that girls grow up to be self-reliant, independent, and empowered.
Let’s have a look at some of the successful programs that companies have executed in this sphere.
Colgate-Palmolive and Maria Sharan
Colgate-Palmolive sponsors education for girls rescued by Maria Sharan. The project helps young girls abandoned on streets, in slums, and stations in Pune, Maharashtra by providing them with accommodation and education in an effort to nurture their growth.
Shakti Initiative Of Unilever
Unilever’s Shakti initiative is a micro-organization which creates opportunities for women to sell its product from door to door in rural areas. The household incomes of these self-help entrepreneurs, called Shakti Ammas, double because of this collaboration. In 2011, around 45,000 women were associated with this initiative and were selling products to 3 million households in 100,000 villages.
A micro-organization of ACC, the Association for Health, Education, and Development (AHEAD), is a CSR initiative that is headed by the wives of the company’s manufacturing units’ heads. Each unit has a separate chapter that imparts vocational training to women who live in villages surrounding the units.
Parivartan – The Whisper School Program
This initiative by P&G aims to provide education to adolescent girls about feminine hygiene practices to help them stay healthy and in school. The program ensures that girls do not miss school as a result of their periods, and have a sense of gender equality. It is in effect across 15,000 schools in India, impacting the lives of over 2 million girls.
ITCs Women Empowerment Initiative
ITC provides sustainable economic opportunities to women in rural areas by assisting them in setting up microcredit self-help groups (SHG). This initiative affects 24,000 women through 2155 SHGs. These women, through the SHGs, help promote human development. The revenue generated by these SHGs is spent on health, nutrition, and the education of children, making these empowered women a key factor in human development.
Government bodies and corporates are both reaching out to the underprivileged women of Indian society in an effort to empower them. These incentives, alongside and hand-in-hand with ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, will have a discernible positive impact on our society.