Welcome to CSR Dialogues from TeamLease Education Foundation, where industry leaders come together to discuss relevant progressive topics around the social development sector. For a recent session, we invited Mr Ravi Nayse, Vice President Of Skill Training, Ambuja Cement Foundation, for an interactive one-on-one conversation with Mr Joel Fernandez, Lead - Partnerships, Teamlease Education Foundation.
Here is a summary of the conversation. Please read on.
We need a culture shift to help improve the literacy rate of women
For the last 5-7 years girls are getting enrolled in primary middle schools, but the challenge is basically coming to the enrollment in higher education. The government has taken a very good initiative on the right to education and has built infrastructures to improve the accessibility to higher education. But the lack of girls in higher studies could be the cultural upbringing in our society. The old-school thinking still prevails where women have to look into a home business and men have to go out or be looked at as the breadwinner of the family. That cultural change has not happened completely because of the upbringing happening at home, especially in the rural areas.
So that change will only happen when as a society we start focussing on the upbringing processes and sensitizing the male community. Because in India, families are generally led by male folks and this shift has to be put forward as an important point, where we emphasise providing access to the same facilities, same opportunities, and responsibilities to women of the family.
To support more women in the workplace we have to create a comfortable and safe workplace. Ease has to be created in the workplace culture. And that will happen by actually making employers or the people who are managing the workflow of the workplaces sensitive towards issues related to women. During one of the skilling programs, Ravi Nayse, Vice President Of Skill Training, Ambuja Cement Foundation came to know that girls are apprehensive to join workplaces dominated by men. The reason could be anything. So to make workplaces more approachable there should always be one female mentor or supervisor to actually make them familiar with the workplace culture. Both male and female associates or colleagues should come forward and help in the smooth joining process of their teammates.
Also, there is still a dire need to create some kind of awareness in terms of women's empowerment. Non- traditional job roles like a welder, security guard or driver should be advertised more. Most of the training facilities are built in big cities but low literacy among women is majorly predominant in rural India. Rural India needs the same infrastructure facility, transport, and educational institute. And at the same time, more women facilitators, instructors, trainers, and teachers, should be hired to teach these batches.
Accessibility to these training facilities or educational facilities will improve the condition of women. Deliberate efforts at the workplaces where these women should get easy access, feel comfortable, and enrollment around should be in line with their habits and cultural upbringings.
Does CSR play an important part in changing the whole thought process?
Yes, it definitely does. CSR has a lot of potential to carry out programs or activities, which require out-of-box thinking. Also, CSR programs have the liberty to derive SOPs and processes and their own guidelines for implementation. Hence, CSR programs have more reach to the rural and deprived communities because they can identify the gap areas and have the freedom of working as per their own system. And as per the need of that area or community, special programs can be carried out.
For example, Mr Ravi Nayse created facilities where the parents and the family members of the women's force who wanted to join or wanted to enrol in their institute were invited. And made them familiar with the institute and its culture. Second, they felicitated mothers of women candidates as they are a very crucial element in the family who can actually promote the education and literacy of women. The third thing was deliberately taking mothers and the family members of the girl students to the workplace and introducing them to the supervisors. This made them comfortable with everything by actually seeing, and believing because accommodation is a big deal for many women. It gave family members a boost in the confidence that their daughter is in the right hands and can actually make a difference with the right education and skills.
To know more about the conversation between two industry leaders, watch the videos here.