India has slipped 28 places to the 140th position in the gender gap index, with the Covid-19 pandemic impacting livelihoods and compelling four out of every ten women out of the workforce, as per the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021. The conditions in Maharashtra, which was one of the worst affected states, highly affected the livelihoods of people, with women being no exception. To curb this menace, a new project called 'HERS' has been launched which is a step towards bridging this gender gap in the state.
'HERS' stands for Health, Education, REVIVE, Skilling, a series of CSR initiatives designed to address fundamental issues faced by women in India which includes education, basic hygiene, employment and sanitation. The project is backed by Vinati Organics Ltd in partnership with Samhita and Collective Good Foundation. Vinati Organics Limited is a manufacturer of speciality chemical and organic intermediaries. In contrast, Samhita is an impact consulting firm, while Collective Good Foundation (CGF) is a not-for-profit organisation that facilitates sustainable and scalable impact across causes such as healthcare, livelihoods and WASH through an operating partnership with Samhita Social Ventures (SSV).
As part of the HERS approach, some of the primary obstacles to growth and development for girls and women in the country have been identified, including low access to education, vulnerability to gender-based violence, less access to technology and financial resources and low labour force participation.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women's health, employment and education, intensifying existing disparities and dealing a body blow to their dreams. It's essential that private and public sectors incorporate holistic and fundamental approaches in their gender strategies to help extend socio-economic opportunities for girls and women, and address key barriers to their growth and inclusion. This is the core aim of our collaboration with Vinati Organics," Priya Naik, Founder and CEO, Samhita – CGF said, as quoted by the CSR Journal.
Activities Under HERS
HERS will focus on helping women overcome the barriers and support their social and economic growth with the help of series of CSR activities.
In-School Training Programme
3,500 adolescent students (both male and female) from 8-10th standards and 100 teachers will be empowered through important life skills and gender sensitisation, with Yuva Mitra as the implementing partner.
School Sanitation And Behaviour Change Campaign
More than 30,00 students across five schools will be provided with access to safe and sustainable sanitation facilities to promote healthy and hygienic practices. Ecosan Services Foundation is the implementing partner.
Out-Of-School Employability Programme
Around 150 out-of-school young adults aged above 18 upto 30 years from rural area will be provided access to essential employability and life-skills training. Head Held High Foundation will serve as the implementing power.
320 teenage girls belonging to impoverished and rural families of Maharashtra, studying in 12th standard, will be given scholarships to support the completion of higher secondary education, with Buddy4Study India as the implementing partner for this initiative.
"Women are the strongest pillars of society. We believe that the initial step towards social and economic development must target at developing the capabilities and self-reliance of women. 'HERS' perfectly synthesises our vision for an inclusive and equitable society for women as well as girls," Viral Saraf Mittal, CSR Head, Vinati Organics Ltd said, as quoted by the CSR journal.
The 'HERS' project also helps restore the livelihoods of informal workers and micro-entrepreneurs affected due to the Covid induced lockdowns. Vinati Organics has committed to give returnable grants to 1,500 women farmers, artisans and micro-entrepreneurs, who are engaged in various occupations like food manufacturing, beauty entrepreneurs, shop owners and many others.