UN Women and Dharma Life Foundation join to help marginalized women in rural India

Date: Monday, December 7, 2020

[Press release]

Authors: Sarah Keller and Minji Kwag

New Delhi, India -- UN Women and Dharma Life, an India-focused foundation, have joined hands to increase awareness about gender-based violence and discrimination in rural India and help find and create livelihoods for low-income rural women, particularly the most vulnerable individuals in remote areas.

The two organizations, which share a common mission to empower women, signed on 1 October a Memorandum of Understanding on the 1-½-year project.

The new cooperation comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended livelihoods and well-being in rural India, disproportionately hurting women and girls who also are experiencing increased domestic violence and gender-based violence during the lockdowns.

Gaurav Mehta, Founder and CEO of Dharma Life, said the new collaboration “will help us gain from the expertise of UN Women's vast network of technical specialists, women thought leaders, and its offices in South-East Asia to further strengthen our work towards meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals with focus on gender equality, poverty alleviation and clean water and sanitation".

Katja Freiwald, regional manager of UN Women’s WeEmpowerAsia programme, which promotes women in business, said the agreement “takes us forward in tackling the inequalities and gender-based discrimination against women by providing them a platform and support to ensure their well-being and economic empowerment in the workplace and community”.

“Working with Dharma Life, we believe these goals can be reached sooner in India,” she said.

The partnership will make use of Dharma Life Foundation’s digital platform, the Jaya Alliance for Women’s Livelihoods. The Jaya Alliance, initiated in early 2020 with support from Ford Foundation India and Dharma Life Labs, a collaboration between Dharma Life, the Wheeler Institute for Business and Development at the London Business School and Siriti, helps rural women overcome low confidence and barriers, builds up their skills, and links them with job and entrepreneurship opportunities. The project is supported by the mobile-based Jaya App, which these women can use to take online trainings, join groups of learners, find out about job opportunities and government programmes, and more. Dharma Life will make use of UN Women’s network to add more partners such as governmental and training organizations and businesses so that the app’s offerings can be increased.

Under the new agreement, UN Women and Dharma Life also will work together to create and carry out programmes to make people aware of, and change their behaviors around, gender inequalities in India. They will mobilize private businesses to commit to the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles, especially Principle 3 on ensuring the health, safety and well-being of women and ending gender-based violence and discrimination in the workplace.

The Jaya Alliance is part of We for Village, Dharma Life’s programme to ease the devastating effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns on rural Indians. Reaching over 500,000 beneficiaries to date, the programme brings together Dharma Life’s global partners and its network of female entrepreneurs to respond to the crisis, help with recovery, and build people’s resilience to future disasters.

For more information:

Minji Kwag
International Communications Consultant, WeEmpowerAsia
UN Women Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Email: minji.kwag@unwomen.org

Sarah Keller
Dharma Life Foundation
Email: sarah.keller@dharmalife.in


About WeEmpowerAsia
WeEmpowerAsia is an EU-funded programme of UN Women that seeks to increase the number of women who lead and participate in business in China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. For more information, visit: http://weempowerasia.org

About Dharma Life 
Dharma Life is a social enterprise founded in 2009 that is dedicated to alleviating poverty in rural India by promoting entrepreneurship. It focuses on improving the quality of life by providing rural women with livelihood opportunities and low-income rural households with access to socially impactful products and services. For more information, visit: http://dharmalife.in