Women Empowerment in India


About the country

The World’s largest democracy is home of 1.2bio people, and also the  World’s 11th economy.  India is also a nuclear weapons power, and the 3rd largest army in the World.  Surprisingly, it is the 13th largest beneficiary of foreign aid, India received $2.435.680.000 in 2016.

Ranking 135th on 188 in the Human Development Index chart, it is still facing problems of corruption, illiteracy, poverty and inadequate public healthcare.  In Odisha (formerly Orissa), the proportion of people living below the poverty level is 47.5%, double the country’s average of 26.10% The literacy rate is 65% among females, 82% among males.  Tribal people in India constitute 8.2% of the population, or 84mio people according to the latest census.


More specifically, discrimination against women is an acute issue in that country and starts early with sex selection: 600,000 Indian baby girls go missing every year.  As a consequence, gender imbalance is the highest in the World and worsening: among children of 6 and under, there are 914 girls counted for every 1,000 boys, in some rural regions, it is as low as 774/1000. The population of single women is estimated to be in the range of 70 million, or 12% of the female population.  This includes widows, divorcees and unmarried women, and those deserted by husbands. This is probably underestimated as multitudes of single women live invisibly, often at the mercy of callous families.

Very often and as a result of the above, single women are unaware of existing government policies and welfare schemes, they are often unable to combine a revenue generating activity with their children’s education and well being  They are especially vulnerable to sexual exploitation and violence.

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Main objectives

In a selected number of villages, the purpose of the project is the promotion of revenue generating activities together with positive self esteem among the poor tribal women who live from the harvesting of the Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP - for instance plant tissue used for fiber, building material, medicine, edible leaves, roots, flower, fruit, seed, nuts, honey, etc. and has both consumptive and exchange value) and build groups to develop a collective voice.  Additionally, this ensures improved and sustainable forest governance, while reducing rural exodus.

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Key principles


Formation of NTFP collectors committees, bringing tribal women into groups, making them better able to negotiate with buyers and policy makers, demand their rights to a fair price and vital social services.  They will be trained on improved forest management principles.


Training on business skills and fair trade, as well as proper NTFP processing to add value (cleaning, grading, drying, processing, packing and branding).


Support to NTFP initiative in the form of a seed capital given to half of the tribal women for arranging and marketing project in the 1st year, allowing them to generate thereafter an increased monthly income for the family

In cooperation with Holy Cross NGO : www.holycross.org.in