Mumbai: Ambuja Cement Foundation (ACF), the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of Ambuja Cement Ltd, has empowered 33,000 women to date in rural India enabling them to secure socio-economic stability in the communities. This was achieved through its work in empowering women to take up leadership positions in their own communities, promote self-help groups and support the formation of Women Federations.
ACF believes that women have the potential to bring in a major transformation in society and fuel sustainable economic growth. In rural India, women need productive employment, social security, healthcare and better working conditions, and therefore in every village that ACF operates in, it gets women to participate in Self-Help Groups (SHGs) building their confidence through education and training and assisting them with opportunities to fulfil skills gaps. These SHGs are just an entry point towards empowerment enabling them to form federations, cooperative societies and take up leadership positions within their family and community.
Of particular note, the Sorath Mahila Mandal in Kodinar is playing a leadership role in promoting SHGs, with a total of 8069 women engaged to date in SHGs. Whereas, the Ekta Mahila Federation in Chandrapur is leading the force in creating Open Defecation Free (ODF) villages and bring transformation within the communities.
ACF works towards transforming the lives of thousands of women and promotes inclusion and gender balance across all programs as they are one of ACF’s major stakeholders. Due to ACF’s interventions, women are today decision-makers in farmer producer organisations, water committees, running sanitation campaigns in villages and also breaking stereotypes in SEDI by enrolling for male-dominated courses.
Through Skill and Entrepreneurship Training Institutes (SEDI), ACF aims to train rural women with skills to find jobs, build careers and grow businesses in their local or neighbouring communities. ACF’s primary focus has been training young women with vocational skills that can serve the industry. Today, 40 per cent of the graduates from SEDI are women and they are successfully placed in trades such as electrician training & welding which does wonders in breaking gender stereotypes across the industry.
“We are happy that Ambuja Cement Foundation’s consistent efforts in empowering women have left a significant mark in rural communities. Seeing the transformation of rural women into becoming self-reliant, as healthcare workers, holding leadership positions, and so on, only makes our resolve strong in empowering women with necessary training and support. Through ACF, we will continue to contribute towards the social and economic welfare of women in the communities,” said Neeraj Akhoury, MD & CEO, Ambuja Cement Ltd.
“We have seen that women can actually elevate their families out of poverty and bring transformation improving the lives of thousands of women if the right platform is provided. These community based Self-Help Groups and Federations that we form not only provide savings and financial assistance but also create opportunities to rectify injustice. Our women empowerment program offers an umbrella of activities for women to secure income-generating opportunities and ultimately gain social recognition in the community.” said Pearl Tiwari, Director and CEO, Ambuja Cement Foundation.
Ambuja Cement Foundation also works towards empowering women to take up leadership positions in their own villages. There are 117 empowered women as part of Panchayati Raj Institutions leading and bringing change in their own villages. Chanda Tai is one such example from Hardona Village in Chandrapur, who rose from being an SHG member to Secretary of the Ekta Mahila Federation to a Sarpanch and has become a role model for women across 30 villages. She empowered women via a Rs 57 lakhs seed and compost business, helped tackle sanitation by creating ODF villages in partnership with a leading bank and worked to make her village a SMART village.
In 2020, ACF registered 382 additional SHGs thus cumulatively supporting 2601 SHGs and 5 Federations across locations. By creating formal institutions, these women have been able to create a mutual support system, achieve common goals and become the frontrunners of social change.