Building Rural Women’s Resilience in the Wake of COVID-19

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India, October 16, 2020: This modern century has brought significant changes in the status of women, and over the years, a number of initiatives have been undertaken by the government, businesses and social organisations to address the issues faced by women and bridge the gap created by society. However, there is still a long way to go before women can truly become empowered. For the sustainable development of a country, and to achieve gender equality, it is crucial to make our women strong and financially-independent.

Organisations Working Towards Empowering Rural Women

Guna’s Quilling: Founded by Gunavathy Chandrasekharan in 2013, Guna’s Quilling showcases the finest products, handcrafted by rural women. Under the brand name, women entrepreneurs sell quilled artwork such as wall art, greeting cards, miniature figurines, jewellery, and much more. Gunavathy Chandrasekharan has also conducted workshops and trained more than 2,000 artisans: most of whom are women, homemakers, students, and children in orphanages. She helps some of them market their products as well.

BANKIT: Noida-based fintech startup – BANKIT – like few others in the country, have harnessed the influx of human resources, post lockdown declaration in the country in March-end, in Tier 2, 3 towns and village, by promoting rural women. BANKIT joined hands with 1200+ rural women to work as a banking agent, distributor and master distributor, particularly in States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Orrisa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. It also has 5000+ women in the team to strengthen their presence. The vision of the organisation is to maximise the number of agents who are able to make Rs 5-10 Lakh revenue in a year by delivering various BANKIT services.

Taru Natural: The start-up was founded by Ruchi Jain in 2016. It sells organic produce like turmeric, jaggery, rice, pulses sourced from farmers across Maharashtra, Karnataka, Assam, Kerala, and Uttarakhand, among others. It helps farmers establish market linkages and ensure a steady stream of income. The Company sourced over 50 tonnes of organic produce in a year to empower farmers and women entrepreneurs! Not just that, they have over 300 different kinds of products on their platform, and in addition to supplying to customers, they also take bulk orders and cater to over 70+ restaurants and cafes across the country.

Institute for Sustainable Communities: Working through Gap Inc. and USAID Women + Water Alliance (W + W Alliance), the Institute for Sustainable Communities (ISC) is promoting water stewardship principles, better soil management practices, and water literacy amongst cotton farmers in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.

As part of the W + W Alliance, ISC and its implementing partners are working with 3,100 farmers, 45 per cent of whom are women. The project focuses on training women farmers and extension workers (Krishi Sakhis) on production and market linkages for bio-fertilisers and bio-pesticides, thereby, enabling them to supplement their livelihood and augment their income, while also promoting best practices in water stewardship and soil health management.

SELCO India Foundation: The Foundation set up a tailoring unit that aims to provide livelihood opportunities for women and transgender women who have suffered economic losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unit is being run by women and transgender women of Sri Lakshmi Pengal Munnetra Sangam. Priya Babu, a transgender activist, and Regional Programmes Manager, Swasti Health Catalyst, facilitated the setting up of the unit. Madurai City Ladies Circle 60 sponsored five tailoring machines, and SELCO India, a rural energy service provider, donated solar panels for the unit. The unit has received orders to stitch 13,000 face masks and 100 cloth bags.