Women, especially in rural regions, face challenges that are unique to them.
The Art of Living helps face these challenges and empowers women using three tools:
- strengthening the individual
- creating a sense of community
- helping them find a cause to discover their own potential
A special focus is to empower women in rural communities. The rural woman is at the foundation of the rural community and our approach aims to nurture inner strength, creativity and self-esteem. Women can then become agents for peace and change for their families, the community, and society as a whole.
The Art of Living has been working in collaboration with various partners to create avenues for women empowerment that include increasing global awareness about women’s issues, creating economic empowerment and creating opportunities for women leaders to emerge.
Increasing global awareness
In partnership with the United Nations Population Fund, The Art of Living works to educate people against the practice of sex selection and female feticide in India. It runs a biannual Women’s Conference as a platform for women to discuss pertinent issues and create a renewed sense of enthusiasm about the difference they can make to the world.
Creating economic empowerment
To promote self-reliant communities, programs were started to engage rural women in income generation livelihood based activities. Rural women were trained in different skills like stitching, cutting, embroidery, bead work, for jute bags. Agarbatti i.e. incense stick rolling provides another convenient and simple means for rural women to earn their livelihood.
Numerous Self Help Groups have been promoted in the fields of food processing, bag making, tailoring & embroidery.
The Vishalakshmi Cooperative Society – a women’s multi-purpose cooperative society been set up as a support mechanism. It has over 300 members hailing from underprivileged background with dreams of business ideas. Under this project, various loans are dispersed to the members to facilitate self-employment at a low rate of interest.
Through its myriad service projects, opportunities have been created for women to emerge as leaders – be it prison programs, terrorist reformation, women’s issues, environmental causes, rural transformation.
500 rural women
were trained in tailoring training centers established in Odisha and Assam.
Over 623 Self-Help Groups
formed in the areas of food processing, bag making, tailoring and embroidery.
5,000 rural women
in India trained in vocational skills
About 100,000 people
sensitized against pre-natal gender testing
About 150,000 people
sensitized against child marriage
Trained over 200 rural women
in agarbatti rolling (incense sticks) in villages surrounding the Art of Living International Center in Bangalore.
Bi-annual Women’s conference
hosted to bring together women from different walks of life.
The VISTA project was started in 1985 near Bangalore to empower illiterate women, abused women and women in poor health. It provides vocational training in sewing and embroidery, while women are also taught literacy and informed about basic knowledge of health and hygiene. After the training, many take up employment with the local garment industry while others work from their homes to augment family income. Over 2000 women from thirty different villages have been trained through this program with multiple training units and a secure housing facility.
Featured Rural Transformation Service Projects
360 million people in India i.e. roughly 40 percent of rural households do not have access to electricity. A majority of these people rely on kerosene and other fuels to meet their lighting needs, which is hazardous to both their health and to the environment. Every year 2.2 million litres of kerosene is burned for lighting, emitting approximately 5.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. Traditional fuel combustion, the primary source of indoor air pollution, causes between 300,000-400,000 deaths per year in India alone.
Initiated in 2012, The Art of Living’s vision to ‘Light a Million Homes’ is an on-going campaign inspiring individuals and corporate partners to work with us to bring clean and affordable lighting solutions to un-electrified homes and villages in India and in Nepal.
The Light a Home follows an integrated approach that combines multiple elements of rural transformation including building rural entrepreneurs. While there is still a journey to be completed, smiles are already lighting up thousands of faces as they begin to experience the benefits of this project.
- Assam: India’s largest solar battery charging station launched to power 287 houses on a remote island in Dibrugarh, Assam in December 2016. With women heading the implementation, the portable solution has been installed on a sandy island.
- Arunachal Pradesh: 33 homes light up in the remote regions
- Jammu & Kashmir: Two schools fully electrified after the 2014 floods
- Tamil Nadu: A remote tribal settlement of Kodamban Kombai in the Nilgiri forest was electrified for the first time
- Karnataka: Three remote villages on the border of Karnataka and Goa got electricity for the first time in their history
- Maharashtra: Solar lamps provide portable electricity to nomadic laborers who are migrants and travel from place to place