International Women’s Day is a reminder that many women are still discriminated against because of their gender
EDUCATE a woman and you educate a family – a great African proverb to remember on Women’s Day. It is often a sad state of affairs in countries like India, where on the one hand, a woman is worshipped as a goddess and on the other, she is kept barricaded behind the shackles of societal norms.
For years, women have been forced to stay at home, locked away in some corner of the kitchen and kept away from opportunities to make their own path. Even though there are several women who are choosing to challenge this inequality and break the glass ceiling, there is a still a huge population of women living under this cloud of discrimination.
Thankfully, there are several organisations that are helping women emerge out of their forced shells. This International Women’s Day, while choosing the best woman empowerment NGO in India might be a tough ask, let’s celebrate the important work that is being done by the top 10 NGOs. You can support their work with a donation.
1. SEWA – Short for Self-Employed Women’s Association, SEWA was founded in 1972 by civil rights leader Ela Bhatt as an extension of the Textile Labour Association. The idea was to bring women from not just textile mill working families but also women from the lower strata of society and give them a chance to be employed and self-reliant.
Today, SEWA aims to offer employment to thousands of women across the country and provide them with food security, childcare, better health and, of course, a steady source of income.
2. Pinkishe – Did you know that every year, close to 23 million girls have to drop out of school simply because they start having their periods? When 16-year-old Khyati Gupta learnt from their maid’s daughter that she did not have enough money to buy sanitary pads, Khyati decided that she needed to start the change.
Pinkishe was born and through it, several thousand girls have learned more about their menstrual cycles and also gained access to better menstrual hygiene facilities. On Women’s Day 2021, support this organisation which offers sanitary pads and a better way of life to all women and girls.
3. Snehalaya – Snehalaya means a house of love and that is exactly what Girish Kulkarni had in mind when he started this NGO for women and children. The main intent behind Snehalaya was to ensure that women were protected against discrimination, inequality and abuse.
From raising awareness of how women can be empowered to offering rehabilitation to women who are most in need of it, there is so much that Snehalaya does today. It also caters to providing education to the children of underprivileged women and ensuring a decent level of healthcare as well.
4. Stree Mukti Sangathana – This NGO was started as a cultural group, wherein the volunteers would put on plays and perform songs to educate people about gender equality.
With their flagship play ‘Mulagi Zali Ho’ (It’s A Girl), they emerged as one of the most respected and reputed organisations working towards empowering women from the lower strata of society. Today they run counselling centres, networking opportunities and provide assistance in finding meaningful jobs, hence empowering women.
5. Azad – What began as a small group of incredibly dedicated volunteers, Azad has today become one of the most well recognised NGOs working towards empowering underprivileged women in the state of Bihar. The team at Azad contributes at a grassroots level and enables women to work for a better future for themselves.
By educating women, emphasising better health and giving them means of generating income, this women empowerment NGO hopes to offer a better future for women and their families.
6. Women for Women – As the name suggests, this is an NGO that is run by women and aims to help women. The target groups are women and children and through their centres and activities, they work towards motivating women to create a better life for themselves.
They conduct multiple awareness programs, promote better health, provide skill development and even offer ways to preserve the environment. This Tamil Nadu based NGO also helps communities have a better life with clean water, sanitation and healthy hygiene practices.
7. SNEHA– The Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action was established in the year 1999 by a group of doctors and social workers who wanted to offer solutions beyond the curative care received at a hospital. This group was of the opinion that in order to ensure better health for a mother and child, there must be education and prevention.
The organisation works towards improving the living conditions for women for a period of 1,000 days, which is the time period from conception to the child’s second birthday. SNEHA also works towards preventing violence against women and children as well as improving overall health for the mother and child. You can show your support to SNEHA this Women’s Day by making a donation.
8. Vishvodayaa Trust – Meenu (name changed) had resigned herself to a life with no hope, since she was born without an arm. Her parents considered her a burden and shunned her, until Meenu came into contact with the volunteers of Vishvodayaa Trust.
Through them, Meenu able to get a good education and the chance to make a better life for herself. The trust works towards empowering women by providing them with education, life skills and the opportunity to lead a meaningful life.
9. Plustrust – PeopleLikeUS is one of the leading NGOs for women empowerment that aims to emphasize a woman’s ‘inner voice’. Vibha Kumari wanted to be a teacher but when she couldn’t get a job in a school, she chose to tutor children rather than giving up on her dreams.
Plustrust brings together several such like minded people, who focus on their inner voice, rather than what society dictates. The NGO provides financial and mentoring support to empower women to rise above mediocrity and achieve excellence.
10. Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan – This is another NGO for women’s empowerment that has been striving hard to create change in the lives of women through computer and sewing classes. Equipped with these skills, women are able to earn a living for themselves with dignity.
Run by Magsaysay Award winner, Nilima Mishra, BNGVN runs several self-help groups, tribal development projects and even provides micro credit to women in need.
This article was updated in May 2023.
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