Imagine living an invisible life — one that remains unnoticed and unheard no matter what you do or what your contributions are for the good of the family or the community. You have a name but no identity. Your countless hours of work are not only not recognized but most often also go unpaid.
Women comprise half the population of the world and still fight for their rights. How do we bridge this gap so that women’s rights are recognized and respected? A nation develops only if its citizens, especially women, develop and are given space to grow. Even the Human Development Index (HDI), which the UN uses to gauge each nation’s level of individual human development, emphasizes that people and their capacities — rather than just economic growth — should be the criterion for evaluating the level of development.
When we educate a woman, we educate a family, the society and the nation. Education opens channels for gainful employment, which empowers women and gives expression to their opinions. At the core of the Adani Foundation’s vision is empowering women so that they know their worth; they know their right to choose and to determine those choices; they know their right to have access to opportunities and resources; they know their right to have power to control their own lives, both within and outside the home, and their ability to influence the direction of social change to create a more just social and economic order.
In this context, education, training, increasing awareness, building self-confidence, expansion of choices, increased access to and control over resources, and actions to transform the structures and institutions that reinforce and perpetuate gender discrimination and inequality are important tools for empowering women and girls to claim their rights. The Adani Foundation has charted its own course in over two decades and has been relentlessly working for the upliftment of the marginalized, women and weaker sections of society.
Be it Fathima Begum of a small village in Tamil Nadu or Soga Mary of Muthukuru village in Nellore, the Foundation has helped channelize their strengths and empower them. “We were invisible and didn’t have a voice until our work began to speak for us,” says Fathima, whose shopping bags, lunch and chocolate boxes, mats, trays, etc., made from palm leaves abundantly available in her coastal village have many buyers today. Ask Soga Mary, who took the reins of her life when things came to a dead end and started her own enterprise of bamboo craft. She not only supports her autorickshaw driver husband in running their household but also makes a good profit that enables her to save for her future.
The Foundation strives to create sustainable opportunities to promote self-reliance through gainful livelihoods for women either through self-help groups (SHGs) or creating a pipeline of talent by providing training at its Adani Skill Development Centres or a pool of health volunteers at the village level to create awareness of health and hygiene.