Violence against women is a vicious oppressive cycle that emerges from and reinforces dire gender inequalities and keeps women in a subordinate position. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, violence against women has increased in the past decade. In 2011, there were more than 228,650 reported incidents of crime against women in India, while in 2021, there were 428,278 such incidents – an 87% increase. Rather than a worsening situation, this spike perhaps represents the growing confidence of women to report incidents of violence they face. In any case, it indicates the continuing presence of misogyny in our society, which we must address from the root causes.
Empowering women and girls is crucial for creating a just and equal society free from gender-based violence. Yet, despite some progress in recent years, there are still many challenges that we need to overcome to ensure that the girl child has equal access to nutrition, healthcare and education. And that women have equal economic opportunities and access to well-being in their homes, public spaces and the world of work.
ActionAid Association (AAA) seeks to ensure that feminist values inform all its work and has been working tirelessly to empower women and girls in India. Adopting a multi-pronged approach, AAA works to facilitate the strengthening of existing laws and justice systems to support women against violence while recognising the need to address the root cause of women’s subordination – her social and economic independence. Thus, we need to ensure gender equality in the world of work – which includes care work, where women carry the major burden, and concerning the right to property – where society often ignores women.
One of the success stories of ActionAid Association is the work with women farmers. AAA has enabled women farmers to gain access to land and water resources and has trained them in sustainable farming techniques. AAA’s intervention has led to women collectives taking up farming activities, seeing an increase in their crop yields, which has helped reduce poverty in their communities. Women farmers have also been given a voice in decision-making processes related to agriculture and rural development.
AAA achieved success recently in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh. Women have taken up a variety of livelihood options – goat and chicken rearing, vegetable gardening, horticulture, multi-layer farming, seed production and vermicomposting. Women farmers chose these options through a participatory rural appraisal spread across Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur districts. Women farmers also shared their difficulties in accessing resources as part of agricultural work – particularly seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and equipment. Keeping this in mind, AAA helped set up a Farmer Resource Centre to make accessible agricultural facilities and credit services through the BASANT Women Farmer Producer Company. As a result, around 3,000 women farmer entrepreneurs in these districts have significantly increased income and access to nutritious food for their families and have created inspiring stories for all to follow.
Another success story of ActionAid Association is the field of girls’ education. AAA has implemented programs to improve the quality of education in government schools and has worked to increase the enrolment and retention of girls. In addition, AAA has been running the “Yes to School and No to Child Marriage” campaign in more than 50 districts of five states in India to combat the cycles of oppression and inequality that child marriage unleashes on the girl child. By working closely with stakeholders such as the government and civil society, AAA has ensured that 10,000 villages in Odisha have become child marriage free. This campaign has resulted in more girls completing their education and pursuing higher education and careers. ActionAid Association has also trained young women to become community leaders, helping them to advocate for their rights and become agents of change.
Despite these successes, there are still many challenges ahead. As mentioned above, gender-based violence remains pervasive in India, with many women and girls facing harassment, assault, and daily discrimination. ActionAid Association has been working to address this issue by providing support services to survivors of gender-based violence and advocating for policy changes to address the root causes of violence against women. Furthermore, reducing the burden of care work is essential to ensure girls can pursue higher education.
Another challenge is the gender gap in access to economic opportunities. Women in India often face discrimination in the workplace and are often relegated to low-paying jobs in the informal sector. ActionAid Association has been working to address this issue by providing women with vocational training and entrepreneurship opportunities, helping them start their own businesses and become financially independent.
In conclusion, empowering women and girls is essential for creating a more just and equal society. ActionAid Association has been doing vital work to empower women and girls in India, but there are still many challenges that we need to address. By working together to address these challenges, we can create a brighter future for women and girls in India and around the world.
Empowering women and girls is a crucial goal, and supporting NGOs that work towards this goal is one way to make a difference. ActionAid Association is one such NGO that accepts online donations to support its work empowering women and girls in India. By donating to ActionAid Association, you can help support programs that provide access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities for girls and women. Your donation can support their work towards girl child education in India, helping to break down barriers to education for girls and ensure equal access to opportunities. Donating to charities like ActionAid Association is an effective way to make a positive impact and help create a more just and equal world for everyone.
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