CARE India’s strategic approach built on Gender Transformative Change has helped in influencing livelihoods and lives of India’s most backward and economically vulnerable social groups
Published on March 19, 2021 at 5:43 am
Updated on April 18, 2021 at 06:32 am
While the Indian economy has grown exponentially since the 90s, the female participation in labour force, considered a key driver of a developing economy, has steadily declined. Between 1990 and 2020, the female labour force participation rate has fallen from above 30% to less than 20% in India (Source: ILO, 2020) ; thereby implying a huge gender disparity in growth and development in the society as well as the economy.
CARE India’s strategic approach built on Gender Transformative Change (GTC) has helped in influencing livelihoods and lives of India’s most backward and economically vulnerable social groups; and evolve programme approaches that bring changes in lives of women through capacity development and financial inclusion, including leadership at household and community levels to sustain their growth and development.
Titan Company Limited, one of India’s leading socially responsive organisations, supported the Kanya Sampurna Project (KSP) which has been CARE India’s flagship programme in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu, since 2017. This district was carefully chosen for our interventions as it is one of the most backward districts in the country with a very low literacy rate at 61%, and the Kattumannarkoil block (or Taluk comprising three development blocks) is a special assembly constituency with 37% of the population from the Scheduled Caste community.
KSP focuses on the GTC approach to build capacities of communities through multi-sectoral strategies comprising ‘Best start to life’, ‘Foundational skills’, and ‘Fit to earn’. This approach was co-created by Titan Company Limited and CARE India. Implemented in Kattumannrakoil and Srimushnam blocks, KSP’s goal is to empower girls through a lifecycle approach. Livelihood is a key focus area of the project and centres around young women between 18-35 years of age from 245 villages across 83 Gram Panchayats and two town wards. The project seeks to enable girls/women in the 18 to 35 age group to lead productive lives, and access critical life opportunities through enhancements in skills and capabilities.
Through KSP, CARE India operates four Life Skill Centres covering panchayats in and around Srimushnam and Kammapuram. Livelihood activities were initiated from 2018 with soft skill development, employment skills and entrepreneurship development, being the core development areas. Based on their aptitude and a psychometric assessment at the entry level, the trainees are referred to skill development courses and further on for jobs. Given the imperatives of living in the digital age, digital literacy, communication skills, capacity enhancement and career skills of the trainees are worked upon. KSP tele-callers circulate vacancy notifications for relevant jobs to the trainees.
The project has provided skill development and job referrals to 4,685 women, till now. A total of 1,408 trainees have been placed in different sectors like garments, banking, insurance, automobile, mobile, manufacturing and healthcare etc. KSP has networked with more than 100 employers from diverse business sectors to provide opportunities to the women in the project area, who have been trained and motivated to make a mark for themselves in life. Additionally, five recruitment firms provide support for job referrals to the KSP trainees.
The other key focus area of KSP is promoting dairy and value-based livestock product promotion based on local resources. With the support of TANUVAS, AAVIN and SRLM, trainings are organised for farmers in the project area to improve knowledge on livestock farming, increasing the volume of milk production, milk products production and marketing. Towards helping set up business enterprises and plans, KSP has trained and provided support to 1,173 aspiring young women out of which 1,009 women have started their own enterprise or expanded their livelihood startup in areas as diverse as sanitary napkins, tailoring, livestock, small shops, idli batter, phenyl, soap and more. It is very heartening to note that 62% have shifted to better opportunities after their first job break came from KSP, while 31% of trainees are continuing in the same jobs since employment. The average monthly salary range of the KSP trained employees has been INR 10,000 INR+.
During 2019-2020, a total of 2,093 young women were supported by KSP, of whom 1,061 are already employed, while 347 were successfully employed even during the COVID-19 lockdown period.
“CARE India’s Vision 2030 goal is to impact 100 million people from the poor and marginalised communities to overcome poverty and achieve social protection. In the new age of digital literacy and business-led entrepreneurship models, Kanya Sampurna Project has worked with one of the most disadvantaged social groups in India and has provided clear evidence that gender transformative changes within the household and the community can empower marginalised women to earn their livelihood and retain control over their resources. This is critical to sustaining India’s economic growth and social development. We are also thankful to Titan for providing us with the necessary support and encouragement to successfully implement the programme on the ground,” says Mr Manoj Gopalakrishna, Chief Executive Officer, CARE India Solutions for Sustainable Development (CISSD).
Shabina’s dream come true
Shabina, a graduate in Science, lived in Govindarajan Pettai with her family. Her parents worked as agricultural wage labourers. She is proud to share that she and her brother got all the support from their parents to study despite the meagre family income. This triggered a need within her to be gainfully employed and make her parents proud.
She, however, felt that lack of digital literacy made her less competitive in the job market. She did not know how to access employment websites or how to face an interview.
When she came to know about the Kanya Sampurna Project (KSP), she decided to enroll herself in the programme. She went for the psychometric assessment test and came to know her strengths and areas of development. She was referred to the Life Skills Centre. She attended all the sessions on career skills, digital literacy, legal literacy and remarkably improved upon her skills and confidence level.
Post the training she applied for a job and faced failure in her first attempt. However, post her second interview, she successfully got employed in ‘Foxcon’, a mobile company located in Chennai. With a monthly salary of INR 11, 975 with ESI and PF benefits and other benefits like transportation to office, she feels that her life has changed completely.
Sabina believes that the KSP project has filled the void between her dreams and achievement. Today she is very happy and proud to help her family financially, especially during COVID-19 crisis, during which her parents lost their employment. She is thankful to KSP for bringing light in her life.
(CARE has been working in India for over 70 years enabling impact for poor, socially and geographically marginalised women and girls through programmes in health, education, livelihoods and disaster management. In 2019-20, CARE India directly reached out to 50.4 million people in 19 states through 53 programmes.)