Jesuit Missions 11 Edge Hill ,
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Empowering women in India

  • 6 January 2022
Jesuit Missions is supporting work in India which is helping women from Indigenous communities create sustainable livelihoods

Indigenous communities in India are at the bottom of India’s social ladder. India uses a caste system which, according to BBC News, “divides Hindus into rigid hierarchical groups based on their karma (work) and dharma (the Hindi word for religion, but here it means duty).” The caste system is over 3000 years old, and it is difficult to break away from your assigned grouping.

For the Indigenous population, the caste system makes it harder to earn a decent income or progress in other areas in life. Indigenous women also face further discrimination due to patriarchal views, traditions, and norms. These norms affect their working life, education, marriage, and social lives.

Men see it as the women’s role to look after the family with domestic duties while men work. Many women are left to do household chores and grow food for the family. If there are surplus crops, they can sell them at the market, but other than that, women have little opportunity to create their livelihoods.

Jesuit Missions supports work in North Gujarat, which is empowering women and helping to lift families out of poverty. The programme achieves this by creating sustainable livelihoods for women through their farming work.

So far, over 100 women are part of the sustainable livelihoods programme. The women have received plantlets that have good market value when harvested. The type of plant works well as it can grow in harsh conditions, allowing the women to plant it on the borders of their land or on wasteland, where their crops cannot grow.

The plant has a market price three times the investment it takes to grow. The women are now generating an income that does not disturb their existing farming duties. Growing the plant alongside food means the women no longer rely on one source of income. They are also empowered by generating an increased income and have more independence and power over family expenditure.

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