Our Response to COVID-19

Forging an Inclusive Society: 2021 Initiatives for Gender Equality

(Posted originally on embracingtheworld.org summarizing the 2021 Gender Equality Inititatives of AMMACHI Labs and CWEGE).

As the world begins its transition into a post-Covid era, the upheaval caused by the pandemic becomes more visible in India’s vulnerable sections, with gender equality a key issue. Still, our Center for Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equality (CWEGE) remains focused on the year 2030—a year the United Nations declares as the target for Transforming our world: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“Let us hope for a future where a day will not be needed to celebrate women, as they will be celebrated every day with a vision of gender equality already achieved,” said Dr Bhavani Rao, our UNESCO Chair on Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment. “The Covid disaster has pushed back a lot of gains, but with a heart and hope to make a difference, let’s renew our pledges and promises for a better world.”

CWEGE together with AMMACHI Labs launched several projects in collaboration with other prominent organizations:

Increasing gender equity in India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)

In collaboration with AMMACHI Labs, initiatives are planned for the next two years to train approximately 25,000 CRPF servicemen in Kashmir to bring them resilience and help them become more open and welcoming towards gender equality.

Madam Charu Sinha is with the Indian Police Service (IPS) and currently serving as the CRPF Inspector General of the Srinagar Sector in India. Due to its proximity to the Line of Control between India and Pakistan, the region is contentious. Sinha is the first woman to proudly hold this position and is known as both a military officer and an officer with heart.

Sinha has been with the IPS for more than 25 years and shares how she has had instances where she felt a lack of acknowledgement and acceptance towards women in the field. This resistance led her to pioneer ways to remove the question mark placed upon women’s capabilities as police.

According to Sinha, officers who are incapable of accepting women on their teams still highly outnumber senior male officers who appreciate and present equal opportunities. Thus, women officers navigate their own paths along a web where they want to help the newer generations to not face the same challenges.

Factors for both genders include patterns in the working culture, such as the time and distance that officers must take from their families when stationed and a high suicide rate in the military service.

Rekha Eipe Memorial Scholarship Award

Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham has received $40,000 US to establish the Rekha Eipe Memorial Scholarship Award for Women’s Empowerment and Education. The objective is to create an endowment fund and provide financial aid to talented women students at the university’s Masters in Social Work Program and develop future leaders that will shape a more equitable society. The scholarship is expected to benefit thousands of students across India for years to come.

Rekha Eipe dedicated her life to improving the cause of literacy and education with a special focus on children and young people working with UNICEF, CRY, Embracing the World and more.

“We appreciate the support of the Eipe Family and are so proud of Rekha Eipe, a dedicated champion of women’s empowerment,” said Dr Rao. “This generous gift will help continue to produce graduates that are valued for their leadership and innovation.”

The social work program includes instructions on how to find solutions to societal problems that lead to inclusive development of underserved communities. Currently, CWEGE coordinates the postgraduate program under the faculty of social sciences and humanities.

Film Competition: Gender Etiquettes and Behavior Change

The first edition of what will be an annual film competition was launched to address gender etiquettes and behavior change. Media portrayal plays an important role in setting new norms, and so the competition aims to engage students at Amrita on how to increase awareness about gender-sensitive issues.

The panel of judges includes Indian director Shekhar Kapur, who has twice won Academy Awards; Hollywood producer Jeff Robinov; the Additional Chief Secretary of Uttar Pradesh Radha Chauhan; publicist, TV personality and author Kelly Cutrone; and advertising producer Jani Guest. 

SMART SHG Project

SMART stands for Sustainable Management to Achieve Social Responsibility Using Technology and Training. The goal for this self-help group (SHG) initiative is to maximize the benefits of women’s SHGs while alleviating their poverty. Women’s SHGs provide financial inclusion and independence, and SMART SHG will specifically address the challenges women in India face. The project is based on three main components: financial and entrepreneurial training, gender-inclusive soft skills development, and the use of technology to support peer learning. 

Women in Sustaining the Environment (WISE)

The WISE project is a collaboration between Amrita and Tel Aviv University, Israel. The vision is to promote community resilience and natural resource management through women’s empowerment and skills training. Now in its second phase, the aim is sustainable water governance by supporting women’s participation in choice, maintenance and management of water resources. The project creates Women Water Officer Positions and an action plan that includes community knowledge platforms. The places of intervention so far are the states of Kerala, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. 

Greening the Mobile Technology Lifecycle

This project transcends the gender divide by training women in vocational education, entrepreneurship and e-waste management. These are fields of work dominated by men in India and around the world. Greening the Mobile Technology Lifecycle will enable women to become empowered stakeholders between individual households and the mobile phone industry. It will be launched in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

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