World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186. This is too long to wait. VAAGDHARA believes that an equally important vehicle to achieve this change should be empowering women to call on themselves to forge a better working world—more gender inclusive world—and not just calling on masses. Acting as a change agent, VAAGDHARA catalyzes this process by helping tribal women change their lives through pragmatic actions and purposeful partnerships, to achieve greater participation in socio-economic sphere.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day—Be Bold For Change—truly reflects VAAGDHARA’s decades long struggle to make women determined to advance and unleash their limitless potentials. For us, ‘Boldness’ is not just the ability to speak up in the male dominant world, but the determination to equally participate in every walk of life.
For last twenty years, the organization has invested in the creation and strengthening of Community Based Organizations with greater female participation. Be it women Self Help Groups, Mothers’ groups and Community Health Volunteers, each one of these institutions has driven change towards greater gender parity by empowering women through information, larger community discussions, training programs and grassroots level advocacy initiatives.
For example, the economic independence of women (to some extent though) achieved through vocational, agriculture, entrepreneurship training programs and credit linkages organized/facilitated by VAAGDHARA for women Self Help Groups, have led to a visible positive impact on the number of years a girl child spends in school.
Similarly, ‘i-Saathi’— an attempt towards digital literacy of tribal women— where a group of selected young, educated female volunteers and SHG members are empowered to use internet in their daily lives and act as ‘Change Agents’, capable of making hundreds of women digitally literate in the village. When these women turned digitally literate, they used internet infrastructure provided by VAAGDHARA to access internet which really makes their life resourceful.
A rural woman can change her family and herself a lot when she can make a decision. VAAGDHARA provided opportunities to them to make a decision regarding their children. We not only provide financial support to tribal students for higher education but also give them information about financial support being given to them by government to educate their children particularly girls as VAAGDHARA believes in educating tribal and rural girls to bring change.