Women’s Empowerment: Connecting Women With Economic Regeneration

India as a country is not a particularly gender-just society. The country’s gender equity rank is 122 among 162 countries in the global Human Development Index, 2018.

Rural women in Uttarakhand have been facing the general inequities, with some special problems thrown in.

Women In Uttarakhand: An Overview

To start with the positive, the gender index score of Uttarakhand is higher than that of the country as a whole. The state scores better than the country average on certain indicators, but way low on others.

Here’s a glimpse, based on data from the Census of India, 2011 and the National Crimes Record Bureau, as available in newspaper reports:

  • Sex ratio in Uttarakhand: 963 females per 1000 males, higher than the national average of 940 females per 1000 males.
  • However, the alarming sign is that the child sex ratio has fallen from 908 females per 1000 males in 2001 to 890 females per 1000 males in 2011.
  • The female literacy rate is 70.01% compared to 87.40% male literacy rate.
  • There was a 22% rise in crimes against women and children in Uttarakhand between 2016 and 2017.
  • A 2017 World Bank document informs that Uttarakhand has the second-highest maternal mortality rate in the whole country: 283 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013.
  • Uttarakhand is a low-income state with female labor constituting 37% of the total. There has been a sharp decline in rural women’s participation in the labor force. From 80% in 1993-94, it has declined to 44% in 2011-2012.

Urban women’s labor force participation has declined from 22% to 15% during the same period.

Special Needs Of Uttarakhand Women: Our Understanding

We have been working closely with the farming families of Uttarakhand at the grassroots level. That has given us important insights into the special needs of poor women in Uttarakhand’s villages.

    • Mass seasonal migration of the male folk in search of income-earning opportunities has increased the burden of women. In many cases, they have been forced to withdraw from labor force participation to be able to manage all household needs by themselves.
    • Women’s unpaid work has increased, while their connection to the economic production process has dwindled.
    • Women’s non-participation in income-earning activities has increased the poverty level in rural families.
    • With the loss of their own income, women have also lost more of their already-limited voice in family and community affairs.

How We Are Reducing The Gender Gap

At Hemp Foundation, we are committed to foster gender-just values towards a more egalitarian society. We are proactively facilitating women’s empowerment through:

  • We are mobilizing women through the formation of self-help groups (SHGs).
  • We are training women in occupational skills related to hemp-based agro-industries.
  • We are imparting marketing skills training to women.
  • We are connecting women’s SHGs to income-generating initiatives.
  • We are connecting women’s labor to the transforming economy of rural Uttarakhand.

By bringing income-earning skills and opportunities to the rural women of Uttarakhand right where they are, we have been changing their lives.

There are many studies to reflect that women gradually gain in dignity and voice in an economically enabled situation. We also look forward to articulating such stories of change.