EMPOWERING WOMEN SOCIALLY AND ECONOMICALLY
The Art of Living Foundation’s programmes provide a solid foundation that nurtures the inner strength, creativity and self-esteem of women from all walks of life.
With this base established well, women are able to go out into the world, prepared to handle any challenge with skills, confidence and grace. They come to the forefront, where they become agents of peace and positive social change for themselves, their families, other women and their society.
How we work:
Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has inspired numerous initiatives to uplift and create opportunities for women, especially in rural areas. He has initiated mass campaigns against female foeticide. With female literacy rates abysmally low in some parts of the world, the Art of Living rural schools encourage parents to send girl children to school. At one such school on the outskirts of Bangalore city, 46% of the children are girls, with the numbers rising every year.
Women are given vocational training to reduce economic dependencies, and are given free homes registered in their names. Health education for women covers nutrition, hygiene and disease prevention, while self-development courses help to instil inner confidence.
The Art of Living has expressed its commitment to women’s empowerment on three levels: first-generation education of girls in deprived rural communities and counteracting prejudices against girls and their education; providing vocational training for women in poverty-stricken regions, enabling them to become economically independent; organising a series of International Women’s Conferences (IWC) to inspire women leaders and raise awareness of women’s issues.
Supporting the girl-child
The Art of Living is working in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund to educate people against the heinous practice of sex selection and female foeticide in India. This resulted in a conference ‘Faith in Action Against Sex Selection - India’s Missing Daughters’ in New Delhi, India in November 2005 to address the issue of female foeticide and the alarming imbalance in India’s sex ratio. Over 36 religious and spiritual leaders, representatives from the government, civil society and the media participated in this event. As a follow-up to a resolve taken at this conference, volunteers have been organising marches to create awareness about the issue in the affected states. One recent march covered 17 stations in six districts of Punjab, one of worst affected states in the country with a heavily skewed sex ratio of 798 girls per 1,000 boys.
The Euro a Day program (click here to donate http://euro-a-day.de/), also supports specifically girls’ education in rural areas.
One landmark initiative that has empowered hundreds of rural women is the VISTA India (Value Integrated Services to All) project. Started in 1985 near Bangalore, India, to empower illiterate, emotionally abused and sick women, it provides vocational training in sewing and embroidery to over 200 women at a time. In addition, they are also taught basic literacy skills and aspects of health and hygiene. After training, many take up employment with the local garment industry while others work from their homes to augment income for the house. More than 2,000 women from 30 different villages have been trained trough this programme.