Making strides towards equality: International Women’s Day 2019
March 9, 2019 - India
It was more than a day to celebrate. International Women’s Day 2019 was a moment where many eyes opened to the significant and vast progress our women’s empowerment projects have set astride throughout India.
A few days earlier in Mumbai, Amma launched Amrita Janani Jagaran--a project by AYUDH Mumbai. It will focus on innovative ways to empower women in urban slums and rural areas by helping them overcome their physical, mental and emotional challenges.
The vision is “Healthy Women, Healthy World” and includes improving health and hygiene awareness. The first phase begins in a Mumbai slum where volunteers are collecting information from the families who live there to learn from them what their needs are.
The first priority of the project is health treatment. There will be a team who visits weekly to provide professional counseling and medical care, including an attending physician. Volunteers are distributing Health Awareness/Medical Kits and holding health awareness sessions, with emphasis on the issues that women face for menses, child-bearing and menopause.
In addition, AYUDH is organizing clean-up drives and installing garbage bins in the slum. They are also holding value-oriented sessions for self-empowerment so that women and the rest of the community can reinstill faith in their own worth as human beings.
This year, we also celebrate honors given to Professor Bhavani Rao for International Women’s Day 2019. Rao serves as the UNESCO Chair in Gender Equality & Women’s Empowerment at Amrita University and is the Director of AMMACHI Labs.
She was awarded a certificate of achievement by Bhoomika, an organization that recognizes women in India who have led changes to restore the balance of power between men and women. About the award, Rao expressed her gratitude and reiterated that it is Amma's vision of equality for all human beings that has inspired the work.
Meanwhile AmritaSeRVe, our self-reliant village project, recognized women in its adopted villages who have courageously taken on the task of forming Self-Help Groups (SHGs). More than 850 women who live in these remote areas have created a structured system for internal lending so they can support each other’s micro-business initiatives and overall livelihood needs.
In many cases, the women are illiterate and started without the ability to even sign their names. However, most banks require a written signature to open an account. The women gathered to support each other in learning this basic skill and upon success, arrived at local banks to open the joint accounts for their SHGs.
Finally, at the Amrita University campus in Amritapuri, AYUDH organized a celebration with the theme “Better the Balance, Better the World”. Most ancient traditions consider Earth as Mother and a connection with womanhood on our planet. With Commander Prasanna Edayillam of the Indian Navy as guest of honor, the event called upon all of humankind to honor women in their ongoing struggle to balance their lives in today’s highly imbalanced world.