Non Governmental Organizations | NGOs India | NGOs in Bangalore | NGOs in India

Empowering Women

Women’s NGO groups are working to empower women and improve their standing in the decision making process. One
example is the (Indian) Community Development Society (CDS), Alappuzha (Alleppey). This is a successful model of women in
development that has now been replicated in 57 towns and one entire district in Kerala State. The objective of the CDS is to improve
the situation of children under 5 and of women age 15 to 45 years. CDS work includes literacy programmes, income generating
schemes for women, provisions of safe drinking water, low cost household sanitary latrines, kitchen gardens, food-grain bank,
immunization, and child-care. The CDS has resulted in the empowerment of women and the building of community leadership. It
is a unique example of community based poverty eradication efforts by women. Since its small start in 1993, the CDS has grown to a
large-scale women’s movement with membership of 357 000 poor women (20 per cent of poor people in the State) from both rural
and urban areas.
Similar work in empowering women to play an active role in environmental improvement and development is done by the
Aurat Foundation in Pakistan and Seikastu Club in Japan. The Aurat Foundation works to help women acquire greater control over
knowledge and resources; to facilitate women’s greater participation in political processes and governance; and to transform social
attitudes and behaviour to address women’s concerns and development. The Foundation works directly at a grass roots level on
environmental issues. It has facilitated meetings between peasant women and policy makers, planners and political representatives,
as a result of which the women were able to express their concern about the impact of environmental degradation on their livelihood
and their lives. The Foundation has also lobbied with Government about the concerns of peasant women and has championed the
demands of rural women to the technology transfer and agriculture extension departments in Punjab. This has led to the development
of demonstration and training projects designed to improve the productivity of peasant women.
In Nepal, a local NGO, Women in Environment (WE), attempts to counter both environmental degradation and poverty by
getting women actively involved in environmental projects. Working with women social workers, environmentalists, women’s
rights advocates and other volunteers the organization has successfully mobilized women to work on such projects as National Park
buffer zone management, river bank stabilization, kitchen garden development and the creation of revolving loan fund for
environmental work. The Sindh Rural Women’s Uplift Group in Pakistan owns 108 acres (43 hectares) of fruit orchard in which they
use “organic and sustainable cultural practices” to fight against the use of synthetic pesticide and insecticide. The Group believes in
maintaining soil and plant health to reduce disease attacks – and to reduce environmental contamination.
Another example of an NGO group which works with women to develop sustainable solutions to environmental problems is
the Viet Nam Women’s Union (VWU). This is a large organization with over 11 million members, which promotes the role that
women play in Vietnamese society. In order to promote energy self-sufficiency for rural families with no access to the electrical grid
the VWU has joined in the Rural Solar Electrification Project, in conjunction with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) – an American
non-profit NGO which promotes rural electrification. The project has provided electricity – from solar photovoltaic cells – for
240 households and to 5 community centres. This is an especially timely initiative, since Viet Nam is in the process of designing a
national rural electrification master plan with the World Bank in order to integrate renewable sources of energy into an overall rural
power delivery system.

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