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Contextualizing Women’s Empowerment Frameworks

Amrita PhD students, Christopher Coley and Srividya Sheshadri of the Center for Women Empowerment and Gender Equality along with professors, Dr. Sriram Devanathan & Dr. Bhavani Rao have published their South India based women’s empowerment framework as a research article “Contextualizing women’s empowerment frameworks with an emphasis on social support: a study in rural, South India” in the journal “Community, Work & Family”.

Their article presents a finding from Amrita’s extensive women’s empowerment initiatives in rural India, specifically on the need to restructure empowerment frameworks to better account for family and male support. Improving the social and cultural support for women is the most important aspect of women’s empowerment. The role that men play in the process of empowerment: either as supporters or obstacles was studied by the researchers.

Read the article

Following the successful completion of the UNDEF-funded WE Project in 2014, researchers from AL + CWEGE conducted an extended impact assessment. One of the outcomes of this was the need to redefine the way women’s empowerment is understood, especially for the Indian context. The data clearly showed that, more than economic or political resources, improving the social and cultural support for women is the most important aspect of women’s empowerment. Global experts are also starting to realize this. To account for this, the researchers have developed a more accurate empowerment model, or framework, to account for the role of social pressures.

Men play an especially important, an often overlooked, role in the process of empowerment: either as supporters or obstacles. Therefore, engaging with men (which has never been done on a large scale) needs to be considered as a key programming element in future projects.

“The learnings and outcomes of this project are a testament to what can take place when research is driven by an underlying motivation to identify and address society’s needs from the perspective of the community. I feel extremely fortunate to be associated with Amrita, an institution that champions compassion driven research as a core value, ensuring that we hold ourselves accountable to the communities and social phenomena that we set out to study.”

Srividya Sheshadri, PH.D Student, Amrita University

“Taking part in this service project and the subsequent research has been a life-changing experience for me. One of the unique aspects of research at Amrita is that it always must have some benefit for society, and I think this work is in line with that mission. We now better understand the social conditions and can develop more effective programs in the future. I am proud to be a part of such efforts.”

Christopher Coley, PH.D Student, Amrita University

Dr. Bhavani Rao, our UNESCO chair in Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equality heads this center based at our Amritapuri campus. Dr. Sriram Devanathan is a professor and Principal at the Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru campus.

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