From the desk of Editor-in-Chief

A bridge of hope

As we step into the New Year, we hope and pray, just like you, for this year to be better than the past two. For the last two years have been nothing short of challenging for anyone.

And yet we all fought back with all our might, trying to keep ourselves and families safe and gave back to the society in whichever way possible.

In the past four years of our existence we have emerged as a multi-disciplinary think tank which provides advisory support to civil societies and corporates.  But the pandemic stretched everyone far and beyond. So we at The Bridge India did our bit to strive harder than usual, as well. For how could we, not push ourselves further during an exceptional crisis.

The Bridge India worked closely with NGOs and corporates by identifying the gaps and needs, resource mobilisation as well as ensuring the availability of right implementing partners during testing times.

One of the worst hit during this crisis, for example, we found out, during our work in the pandemic, have been the differently abled.  It is for this reason that this issue has been touched upon disability. Moreover, we have also reproduced some of the best stories from our stories through 2021. We have covered The Bridge India’s 4th Anniversary event, Impact making NGOs in the field of disability, Development Movements, how women play an important role in making India self-reliant, our preparedness for the third wave of COVID, nutrition and more.

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We feature these, because through them and our work through the year, we found hope in the midst of the gloom.  Be it more and more NGOs, corporate or the actively working government groups like the NITI Aayog coming together or individuals doing their bit, the efforts were visible.

What is also heart- warming is to see how many people want to read about these stories of change. We have seen our reader base grow and the number are only growing.

So here is to the ones who thrive on hope and happy beginnings!

Happy Reading!

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Anniversary Celebrations: Abilitating Change

By Amitabh Srivastava

Pic: Glimpse of Anniversary Event

Over the last four years, The Bridge India has been working to promote Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the most pressing needs of the country, such as education, health, gender equality, livelihood and empowerment, and inclusion. This year, then was no different. To mark our work through the year and to celebrate our fourth anniversary, we organised a fitting grand finale which coincided with World Disability Day on December 3. As a special focus, Bridge India organised a series of events that were not only enabling and empowering but also provided insights into several issues that we tend to push under the carpet or take for granted.

The Grand Finale day was marked by a three-part event. The first being a grand finale quiz on Kaun Banega Social Sector Champion 2021 an initiative to promote SDGs. The second was a panel discussion on leadership and participation of persons with disabilities towards an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world.

Last but definitely not the east, awards for Heroes of Humanity.

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Mahavir Sharma (Chief Guest Grand Finale)

Mahavir Sharma (Chief Guest Grand Finale)

The multiple events were presided over by the Chief Guest Mahavir Sharma, Entrepreneur and an angel investor from Rajasthan.

Introducing the event, Ms. Seema Jairath, Executive Director, Bridge India said that the organisation had filled the long-felt need to bridge the gap between the NGOs and the corporate sector to transform society. She said that in its four years of existence it had emerged as a multidisciplinary think-tank in providing advisory support to civil societies and corporates.

One of the much awaited events was the grand finale one of its kind quiz show ‘Kaun Banega Social Sector Champion’.

Raj Kumar Makkad (Chief Guest Preliminary Round)

Earlier, as part of the fourth anniversary celebrations, the prelimanary round of the quiz show in October 2020, saw our chief guest, Mr Rajkumar Makkad, State Commissioner, Disability Harayana encourage 21 participants. Six of these bright stars made it to the grand Finale.

The Grand Finale, a part of the three part series saw an engaging final round of Kaun Banega Social Sector Champion quiz with Quiz Master Deepak Taneja keeping the audience engaged in his inimitable style.

Himanshu Aggarwal from Indian Oil Mumbai, the first winner won the title Kaun Banega Social Sector Champion 2021 followed by Umesh Sahu from SAIL, Bhilai, and Debasmit Panja from Indian Oil Corporation, Haldia. They were given gift vouchers of Rs 30,000, Rs 20,000 and Rs 15,000, respectively.

Another very engaging part of our celebration was the panel discussion which saw our able panelists speaking about the shortcomings and limitations of the prevalent thinking on disability. All eminent names in their fields, the panelist were: Rakesh Jinsi, President SOS Children’s Villages of India & Senator SOS International, Austria; Vijay Sethi, Chairman Advisory Board Mentokart; Ruma Roka , Founder of Noida Deaf Society; Prashant Hota, President, Group Head CSR and Sustainability, Jindal Group; and RN Dubey, (DGM-CSR) CO India Oil Corporation. The session was ably moderated by Vikas Kataria, Director Resource Mobilisation and Communication, WaterAid India.

Among the important conclusions and recommendations from the panel discussion summed up by Vikas Kataria were:
a. Need to bring political leadership at board level and include diversity.
b. Disability should be mainstreamed.
c. There is a strong need to invest in innovative solutions.
d. The CSR Act is evolving and we are at the beginning stage of development.
e. Disability cannot be generalised, it has to be specified and has to be initiated from the school level. Braille and sign language can be taught as a language of daily skills.

The last but definitely not any less important part of the event saw The Bridge India felicitate Heroes of Humanity in the field of disability who have been role models.

For this, six persons with disabilities from different states have now become role models and were chosen after an able judge panel zeroed down on them. These six who were chosen for their incredible work in the field of disability are: Ragevendra Ratnakar Anavekar (Belgaum, winner of many national and international awards in swimming); Dr. Ritesh Sinha (Karnal Haryana, winner of many prestigious awards including Limca India Book of Records); Mr. Gunasekaran (Chennai, Tamil Nadu, recipient of role model award in the category of leprosy cured from the President of India); Himanshu Arora (Delhi,disability rights activist, research scholar and a crusader for disability, helping people to get quality education); Priyanka Hasija (Gurgaon, participated in power lifting and winner of Bronze medal in 2015 Special Olympics World Games at Los Angeles); Abdul Wahab (role model for youth, having trained 200 disabled persons in his village and an Assam government civil servant aspirant).

With the three events, we tried, once again to cement our commitment to bridging gaps in the social sector and being a catalyst of change. We hope to continue inspiring and getting inspired.

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Corporate biggies walk the nutrition talk

By Prachi Raturi Misra

Pic Courtesy: Dabur India Ltd.

We are what we eat, they say. And given what an average Indian gets to eat, it’s no surprise our nutrition levels are one of the poorest .According to Global Nutrition report, 2020,. 51.4% of women aged 15 to 49 years are affected by anaemia. India is ‘on course’ to meet the target for stunting, but 34.7% of children under 5 years of age are still affected, which is higher than the average for the Asia region (21.8%).

World Health Organization (WHO) says, “Nutrition is a critical part of health and development. People with adequate nutrition are more productive and can create opportunities to gradually break the cycles of poverty and hunger.”

The fact that poor nutrition doesn’t only lead to poor health but also has larger implication for a nation is a well known fact. A Bloomberg 2020, report pointed out that poor diets in developing countries are costing businesses as much as $850 billion a year in lost productivity.

A host of initiatives are being taken by the government, NGO as well as corporates to step up India’s nutrition goals. We look at some of the initiatives by a few leading corporates. From setting up kitchen to serve nutritious meals to children at school to helping set up kitchen gardens at homes to helping understand nutrition, they are doing it all.

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Nutrition-focused initiatives undertaken by Dabur India Ltd .

With its corporate motto being, ‘Dedicated to the Health and Well-Being of every Household’, talking nutrition as part of its CSR activities, says Dabur India Ltd CSR Head Mr. A. Sudhakar, is a natural extension of its motto.

“At Dabur, we have been working towards ensuring that a greater share of the population from the socially and economically weaker classes lead a healthy life. We work with local NGOs across the length and breadth of the country to jointly spread awareness about the need for a balanced diet and to meet the nutrition-related needs of people from underprivileged sections of the society,” he says.

Swasthya Aur Suraksha:
Dabur has put together an integrated programme aimed at improving the Health, Nutrition and Safety Standards in rural India, with a particular focus on the girl child. The programmes have been specially crafted to give the girl child the right chances to nurture their talent and skills, and helping them excel in different areas of life. The four key pillars of this Integrated Programme are:

• Safe and Nutritious Food
• Promoting Kitchen Garden
• Self-Defense Training
• Promoting Health Care

As part of this programme, Dabur, along with Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) – organise Safe & Nutritious Food (SNF) campaigns in schools to spread awareness about having a balanced diet and staying away from junk food. Seeing children as “powerful change agents who can usher in behavioural change and promote consumption of safe and wholesome food in their respective households”, Dabur began the Swasthya aur Suaksha programme. Through this, they reach out to school-going children and teachers to spread information about nutritious food intake.

Ghar Ki Bagiya:
During their interactions with the community and at the various malnutrition screening camps in the villages, Dabur, came across children suffering from malnutrition. “Their parents were, in fact, surprised that despite having proper meals, comprising rice and pulses, their children were facing these issues. Most parents were ignorant of the fact that adding fruits and vegetables in their daily diet was necessary to get the required nutrition. Some said the high prices put the fruits and vegetables beyond their reach, while marginal farmers did not want to use their small farmlands for growing vegetables and preferred crop that yielded better returns” shares Mr Sudhakar.

The idea of Ghar ki Bagiya came as the extremely unique project which works on building awareness within the community about environment as well as encourage them to plant and nurture plants that provide nutritious fruits and vegetables for their own consumption. The initiative offers dual benefits to community members by providing them seeds to grow nutritious fruits and vegetables for their daily consumption besides generating addition income for their households. This initiative has not only helped in upping the nutrition levels in target communities but has gone a long way in enhancing the green cover in the villages.

Over 600 families in 20 villages in Uttar Pradesh, 200 families from 9 villages of Baddi (Himachal Pradesh), 400 families from 10 villages in Pantnagar (Uttarakhand) and 300 families from 4 villages of Tezpur (Assam) have benefited from our GharkiBagiyaprogramme in 2020-21 and are now consuming vegetables as part of their daily diet.

Nutrition Support during COVID:
Under this programme, Dabur provided Immunity and Nutrition support to Communities and Migrant Workers who were struggling for daily essentials. They worked with local NGOs and community leaders to not only provide dry ration and nutritious meals but also medicines to people in need during the lockdown. Dabur supported these distressed families by providing them with groceries and vegetables, besides Nutrition and Health Care products and face masks.

Adani Wilmar’s Fortune SuPoshan project

Adani Wilmar Limited’s Fortune SuPoshan project, which aims to tackle malnourishment by improving nutrition levels among young children in its first phase ( 2016 to 2020) showed an assessment report, contributed to a significant reduction in malnutrition indicators.

Launched in May 2016, the Fortune SuPoshan project, which was executed on the ground by Adani Foundation, the CSR arm of Adani Group, is a mission against Malnutrition and Anemia and it was operational in ten sites Mundra, Hazira, Dahej, Kawai, Shimla, Tirora, Sarguja, Vinzhinjam, Kamuthi and Bitta across seven states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, and Rajasthan. The project will continue its operation at its existing sites by reaching the target group 0-5 age children, adolescent girls, and women in reproductive age.

All 239 villages where the Fortune SuPoshan project was operational in the first phase have shown a significant reduction in all three malnutrition indicators.
After four years of intervention via the Fortune SuPoshan project, the levels at the 10 sites fell to 4.1%, 1.3%, and 2.7%, respectively as found in the Universal Anthropometric Measurement conducted by Fortune SuPoshan’s team of village volunteers called SuPoshan Sanginis at these locations in the year 2019-20.
“It is most gratifying to see the significant impact the Fortune SuPoshan project has had in improving nutrition levels among young children across its sites. The project has been expanded to more sites now, and Adani Wilmar is committed to contributing to make India a healthy country,” said Angshu Mallick, MD and CEO, Adani Wilmar.

Havells India Ltd:Nourishing minds and bodies

Anxious eyes of some 70,000 odd children from the 700 Government School children in Alwar await QRG Foundation’s White and Orange vehicles, to bring them hot nutritious meals.

The journey began in 2004 with meals from a ready made meals from a popular restaurant supplied to a few schools. A year later, in 2005 it was decided to extend the food programme to more schools and begin a mid day meal scheme whereby children would get a nutritious, well balanced meal cooked with care and the best of ingredients at Havell’s very own facility.

In 2006 when government launched its mid day meal scheme throughout India, several Government school in Alwar already had a scheme going on, thanks to Havells Group.

The government then added their support with a 40 per cent funding. With the 60 percent that QRG foundation puts in, the biggest focus is on the quality of raw material, not to forget the cooking.

Interestingly, since QRG meals started there have been some marked changes in the lives of these children. Some of the most important ones are:

Reduction in dropout rate, more enrollments, better nutrition which leads to better concentration.

Nutrition, thus,a host of corporates realise, is an area that could definitely do with some helping hands because a better nourished society also means growth for the nation and economy. We, at The Bridge India couldn’t agree more.

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Development Happenings

By Bridge India Correspondent

Saubhagya Foundation

Exhibition

Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Department, Uttar Pradesh Organized State level recognition and exhibition on 3rd Dec.2021 at Atal Auditorium, Dr.Shakuntala Mishra National Rehabilitation University, Lucknow for various government organization and NGO’s working for persons with disabilities.

Hon.Shri Yogi Aditya Nath ( Chief Minister-Uttar Pradesh ) graced the event along with other dignitaries. Shri Yogi Aditya Nath appreciated the efforts of Saubhagya Foundation Staff and students who displayed excellent exhibition of Hand made Emroidery clothes and handicraft items which were made by their trained students (persons with disabilities).

Skill council for persons with disabilities in collaboration with Saubhagya Foundation organized Mega Job Fair at CRC ( Composite Regional centre) in Lucknow on 25th Nov.2021 More than 40 companies partcipated in this event and offer letters were distributed to 500 plus beneficiaries and felicitation was done for 40 employers.

Shri Sudhir Halwasiya Ji (U.P. State Convenor – BJP ) graced the event along with other dignitaries.

Top Brand companies like Reliance trends, Lemon Tree Hotel, Hyatt Residency, Swiggy, Startrek, Utkarsh Small Finance Bank, HDFC Bank, GVK EMRi, Vishal Mega Mart, Flipkart, Amazon, SV Credit Line Ltd., Hotel Comfort INN, Hotel Hilton Garden and may more partcipitated in this event.

Samarthan Trust

Job Fair for Person with Disabilities

Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled – Delhi organised a Mega Job Fair for Persons with Disabilities in commemoration with SILVER JUBLIEE YEAR of Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled & INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES.

374 Persons with Disabilities attended interviews from across Delhi NCR in the Job Fair. 18 employers came forward to hire potential Human Resource to their organization with various Job Roles.  41 Candidates were selected and 96 Candidates have been shortlisted for the next round in various domains. The Job Fair provided a common platform for Persons with Disabilities from different backgrounds who are in need of opportunities during this Pandemic and choose the job of their choice.

Tech Mahindra Foundation

Saajhi Samajh on ‘Including Disability at the Workplace’

Tech Mahindra Foundation (TMF), the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) arm of Tech Mahindra, hosted the sixth edition of Saajhi Samajh on ‘Including Disability at the Workplace: From Aspiration to Action’. On the occasion of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3rd December 2021, an expert-led panel discussion was hosted to promote the idea of an inclusive workplace for persons with disabilities (PWDs). The online event was attended by corporate veterans, employers, and young entrepreneurs to understand the significance of creating a conducive environment for PWDs.

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During the event, in his keynote address, C P Gurnani, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tech Mahindra said, “At Tech Mahindra, we are intentionally diverse and globally inclusive. We believe that diversity is the missing block of the puzzle that will unlock future growth opportunities for enterprises across the world. It is more important now than ever for businesses to embrace workforce diversity and reap its complimentary benefits in terms of increased creativity and profitability.”

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Felicitation of Heroes of Humanity

Ragevendra Ratnakar Anavekar

Disability: Locomotor Disability by Birth / 75 percent Disability, walks on knees or wheelchair
Achievements: He has won many national and international awards in swimming. He is also Kaleva Awardee & Para Asian Game Medallist

A Gunasekaran

Disability: Leprosy /50 % Disability
Achievements: He is a recipient of Role model award in the category of leprosy cured from President of India in 2016. He has also been awarded Best Social Worker award for serving people with disability from Government of India

Dr. Ritesh Sinha

Disability: Cerebral Palsy /100 percent Disability
Achievements: He has won many prestigious awards viz Cavin Kare Ability Award, ADAPT Award Winner, Haryana Divyang Ratna Purskar, Limca India book of records

Himanshu Arora

Disability: Brittle Bone Disease, Wheelchair bound
Achievements: Working as a Disability Rights Activist, Research Scholar. Being a crusader for disability helping many such people like him to get quality education and ensuring that they become
self dependent.

Abdul Wahab

Disability: Locomotor Disability in Cancer / 90% percent Disability , walks with scratches
Achievements: Abdul is a role model for youth in spite of his disability. He has been running a NGO Dalgaon Anchalik Bikalanga Unnayan Parisad specifically to support livelihoods for persons living with disability – Trained 200 disabled persons in his village. He is a Assam Government civil service aspirant.

Priyanka Hasija

Disability: Intellectual Disability
Achievements: She participated in power lifting & won Bronze Medal in ‘2015 Special Olympics World Games’ at Los Angeles

Impact Making NGO in the field of Disability

Khushboo Welfare Society

Khushboo Welfare Society
Contact Person : Mr. Vijay Pal
Contact Number: 9971698963
Email: vijay.pal@kwsindia.org
Website: www.kwsindia.org

Services Offered
Life Skills Development

·         Activities of Daily Living

·         Interpersonal Skills

·         Personal Safety & Security

·         Home Management & House Keeping

·         Cooking & Catering

·         Education (3Rs)

·         Computers

·         Gardening

·         Art & Craft

Theraputic Services

·         Physiotherapy

·         Occupation Therapy with Multi Sensory Integration

·         Hearing & Speech Therapy

·         Performing & expressive arts (Music & Dance)

·         Psychiatry & Counselling

·         Pottery

·         Yoga

·         Sports

Saubhagya Foundation

Saubhagya Foundation

Contact Person : Mr. Nitin Samvedi
Contact Number: 9870777919
Email: ceo@saubhagya.org
Website: www.saubhagyafoundation.org

Services Offered
Training on Specially abled on Skill Development
Placement of Trainees
Support Assistance
Tri-Cycle
Wheel Chair
Udaan for the Disabled

Udaan

Contact Person : Mr. Ram
Contact Number: 9818220303
Email: ram@udaan.org
Website: www.udaan.org

Services Offered
Early Intervention for Special Child
Parent Counselling
Vocational Training
ADL Training
GAIT Training
Inclusive Education & Special Education
Low Pressure Hyperbaric Therapy
Physiotherapy
Occupational & Speech Therapy
Noida Deaf Society

Noida Deaf Society

Contact Person : Mrs. Ruma Roka
Contact Number: 9811643244
Email: ruma_roka@hotmail.com
Website: www.noidadeafsociety.org

Services Offered
Primary & Remedial Education
Vocational Training
Parent Enabling
Deaf Schools
Livelihood
Customising Curriculum
Tender Heart NGO

Tender Heart NGO

Contact Person : Ms. Renu Bali
Contact Number: 9350844393
Email: office@tenderheartngo.org
Website: www.tenderheartngo.org

Services Offered
Rural Children Education
Woment Empowerment
Special Needs Education Program
Educating Slum Children
Health Project

NGOs help marginalized women write their own graph

Women in the remote areas are emerging strong in nation-building with the support of welfare schemes, self help groups and NGOs 

By The Bridge India Correspondent

For NGOs working to make women self-reliant, the call for Aatmanirbhar Bharat is nothing short of a validation. As the pandemic crashed economy resulting in joblessness and infamous migration, millions of women from the marginalized sections of the societies across the nation sprung a surprise by contributing not only to India’s collective fight against Covid-19 but also in the making of a self-reliant nation.

SHGs, a holding hand for underprivileged women

For instance, a Self Help Group (SHG) of adivasi women in Chhattisgarh instantly launched herbal hand sanitizer brand called Madhukam, which is made from mahua brew. Mahua is an integral part of adivasi culture and has traditionally been used to prepare alcohol in the region. But with the help of a local researcher and scientist, this women’s group turned the bane into a commercial boon. In another such development, dalit women from Telangana, who once were victims of hunger and deprivation, provided grains for pandemic relief. They are backed by several NGOs and women-centric communities. In Bundelkhand, over 1000 SHGs of women rose to self-reliance by growing neem trees and selling byproducts.

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“Women at local level can play a significant role in making India self-reliant, once a woman fully identifies herself and her potential. Access to skills, resources and financial independence can help in alleviation of poverty, enhance her social status and improve decision. This would however require support from their families and the local communities which calls for redistribution of roles, values, understanding and trust,” says Chandni, Director – Rural Management and Training Institute, Fundraising, Navjyoti India Foundation.
The Foundation has organised around 1,500 women into Self Help Groups (SHGs) in 32 villages in district Gurugram, Haryana. These women have been trained on operational, social and economic aspects to manage the SHGs on their own. As a result, the women who were financially excluded have now access to basic financial services such as savings, credit, bank linkages, insurance preventing them from being exploited from the clutches of the money lenders. “The saving capacities of the women increased from Rs100 to Rs1,000 per month. More than 100 women have become entrepreneurs and have opened up grocery shops, boutiques, running dairy business, selling cleanliness and hygiene kits and much more. These women are further providing employment to other fellow members creating a multiplier effect. Their monthly income varies from Rs3,500 per month to as high as Rs 1 lakh per month,” says Chandini.

Creating women leaders from remote territories

Women empowerment initiatives and livelihood interventions from SOS Children’s Villages of India have taken several women in the remote areas of the country out of poverty, violence and exclusion. Their Family Strengthening Programme is designed to empower women in the households, as primary caregivers of children, thereby safeguarding parental care for the children. The interventions lead families towards self-reliance and dignity by ensuring adequate health and nutrition and education of children as well as skilling, income generation and capacity building of women in a span of three to five years. One of the many successful case studies is of Dhanwanti Self Help Group which was formed in 2013 to support extremely Backward Caste and Scheduled Caste women of Kamruddinpur, a village in Begusarai District of Bihar.
Continuous interventions of the SOS have tripled their monthly income, gave them improved social status and recognition besides access to microcredit at low interest and various welfare schemes from the Central and State governments.The SHG is also linked with National Urban Livelihood Mission which allows members to avail various social security schemes such as Rajiv Gandhi Urban Electrification Scheme, Swachh Bharat Mission and Ujjawala Yojna.
“SHGs contribute to address all the problems of isolation, poverty, indebtedness, inequality and other complexities involved in development in a comprehensive manner. The women attain economic independence that empowers them to take charge of vital decisions in their families including education and welfare of their children. Given the widespread development challenges the rural and urban vulnerable communities are facing due to rapid and unplanned development and migration, these SHGs show a ray of hope on how the isolated, down trodden women can lead affront in securing a better future for their children,” says SumantaKar, Secretary General, SOS Children’s Villages of India.

Skilling women to gain independence

Vocational training in the rural belt has become a major hit. Practical knowledge in disciplines such as beauty, fashion, farming, electricity, finance and tailoring have given wings to several homemakers. A distant Bodoland Territorial Region of Assam presents a transformational story of women. Even though weaving has been an area of expertise of Bodo and Assamese women traditionally, many women left Bodoland during insurgency in search of job and landed up working as domestic workers in Guwahati or outside. To rehabilitate these women and to encourage others to join the workforce with a skill which they inherit, NGO The Ant set up a trust, AagorDagraAfad, with 250 weavers on board including destitute women across Chirang and Kokrajhar district. It’s an all women run trust and produces hand woven fabric and ready to wear dresses for men and women, and now runs a business of more than Rs 1 crore every year.
“We thrive to work for the poorest of the poor and have helped the landless families who were jobless during pandemic. The need of the hour is to focus on the women from interior villages, identify the support required for their upliftment through a participatory approach and act accordingly,” says Pranami, Executive Director, The Ant.
These NGOs have shown grit and determination to create wonders even in far-flung areas of the country. However, given the demographical and social challenges, there’s much more that needs to be achieved. The empowerment of the marginalized women would significantly improve their social and economic status, and will make them a strong participant of a self-reliant nation.

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