How organisations can orchestrate CSR efforts to empower women

 How organisations can orchestrate CSR efforts to empower women

Priyadarshini Nigam

Women’s rights have been recognised globally in terms of education, economy, and healthcare. However, their practical implementation remains elusive, notably in India. According to the Global Gender Report 2022, India stood at 135th rank out of 146 evaluated countries. The performance was visibly dismal in bridging women’s educational (107th), economic (143rd), and health gaps (146th). But women-focused initiatives are lacking in CSR programs. While Indian corporates realise that CSR initiatives can play a huge role in empowering women, such initiatives currently form a bite-sized share of the total CSR efforts. According to the India CSR Outlook Report 2022, organisations spend just 1.93 per cent of their total CSR funds on areas like gender equality and women empowerment. There is a dire need to address the gaps, and Indian corporate can play a huge role. They hold a key instrument that can help bring change if orchestrated well—the CSR program.
Since the inception of CSR mandate laws in India, organisations have undertaken various initiatives to fulfil their legal obligations while making a larger impact. By orchestrating CSR initiatives toward empowering women, organisations can significantly impact the prevailing gender gap and help women realise their rights. Let’s understand how Indian corporate can drive change through CSR:

Education is certainly the most potent tool for empowerment. Organisations can use their CSR programs to improve literacy among the girl child at the beginning and increase their enrolment in primary, secondary, and higher school education levels. As these girls become adults, they will be literate and knowledgeable, giving them a stronger voice in society.
Also, empowerment through digital education is the need of the hour for both children and women living in remote areas. Educating even a limited number of school-going children and women can have an exponential impact.

Women traditionally were denied the opportunity to step outside their homes and work. Organizations can organize various CSR programs to upskill and enhance women’s employability and boost their workforce share.
For instance, organisations can contribute toward skill development programs to benefit their community and include more women in their implementation. Such initiatives can make women more independent and raise their standard of living.

Women’s health and general well-being is a sensitive topic as women often deal with various health-related issues. In this regard, organizations can play a vital role through their CSR initiatives focusing on women’s physical and mental health.
They can plan health awareness campaigns and set up health clinics in the communities where they run the CSR projects. Organisations can also partner with various agencies that work towards uplifting the health standards of women and execute multiple programs.

In a nutshell, organisations must assess their CSR programs and include women in their activities as they can act as role models and inspire others. By supporting projects geared toward women’s empowerment, Indian corporate can foster a culture of inclusivity and promote gender equality in the workplace and beyond. Combined CSR efforts by organisations and the government network can significantly improve women’s educational, economic, and health status.

Priyadarshini Nigam is Director and Head-CSR at Newgen Software


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